FAMU Trustees Approve Amendments and New Budget with No Dissent

Florida A&M’s Board of Trustees unanimously approved Thursday all six points of its meeting agenda in under 30 minutes.

At the close of the board’s two-day retreat, university trustees agreed to the $1,600,000-plus 2011-2012 operating budget and changes to the 2010-2011 budget to nearly $7,000,000, along with a multi-year contract for a new FAMU DRS superintendent, a compensation plan for university employees, and an increase differential fee for tuition. They also approved the university’s annual equity report.

The meeting began about 20 minutes later than its scheduled 11:30 a.m. start time. Trustees sprinted through the agenda points, which had been discussed in closed-door committee sessions in the days before, in about 25 minutes. FAMU

President James H. Ammons Ph. D. called it the board’s retreat a “show of commitment to this university and its future.”

No dissent arose among board members, although Student Body President Breyon Love questioned the possibility of a differential fee waiver for financially-unstable students and Charles Langston offered an explanation on the need for the board funding adjustments to university salaries.

Changes to The Budget

The board granted the university another $230,000 to the Building Fee and Capital Improvement Fee Fund to pay the Florida Department of Education for the remainder of the year, $376,028 for Internet services and emergency facility repairs, $367,655 for student financial aid, $625,000 for Pass-Thru Funds to pay food-supplier Sodexho for outstanding meal-plan invoices and another $5,169,752 for Direct Loans.

A New Hope for FAMU DRS

The board welcomed Patricia Hodge Ph. D. as the new superintendent of FAMU DRS with praise for her work at another university research school. She is scheduled to run DRS for at least two years. The board expects her to raise DRS’ overall grade from its recent D.

Trustee Solomon Badger who presented the contract to the board said two years would be “adequate time to make discernible progress at FAMU DRS.” “”We believe that if given the extended contract period she should be able to establish goals for FAMU DRS that includes raising the achievement standards of our students,” Badger said.

Trustee R. Alston praised her as an “an excellent choice for superintendent.” He explained to the approximately 20 men and women in the Al Lawson Center that she was on the faculty at his school when he was a boy. “I believe that she will move the DRRS in the right direction,” Alston said.

Trustee Marjorie Turnbull echoed his sentiments. “We look forward to hearing about your plans in how you intend to make changes,” Turnbull said.

A Momentary Conflict

Dr. William Tucker quizzed the board about what he called the “arbitrary way” nearly 50 FAMU employees were laid off in June. He challenged the dismissals, which were part of the university’s restructuring plan, as unfair and imbalanced. Ten employees filed grievances against FAMU this week for the dismissal, claiming the university had violated its Collective Bargaining Agreement. Tucker argued his case in the two-minute open floor session.

Chairman William Jennings stop any farther discussion, saying that he felt it “inappropriate” for the board to discuss the matter with litigation pending.