Board of Trustees Discusses Ammons ‘Evergreen’ Contract

For Florida A&M President James Ammons, everyday brings a fresh start and yesterday never happened.

Life tends to happen that way when your employment contract has an evergreen clause, which makes it hard for your employer to terminate you.

On Oct. 3, the Ad-Hoc Committee of the Florida A&M Board of Trustees met to review President Ammons’ contract.

Committee members present were Trustees Kelvin Lawson, Charles Langston, Rufus Montgomery, and Solomon Badger. Staff members present included attorneys David Self and Rosiland Fuse-Hall. Lawson chairs the committee.

Prior to the Oct. 3 meeting, Lawson had closed meetings with Ammons discussing the committee’s proposed amendments to his contract.

According to the minutes provided by the Office of Communications, Ammons seemed receptive to the amendments proposed by the committee.

Based on those prior closed-conversations with Ammons, the committee proposed the following amendments to Ammons’ contract:

During closed talks with Lawson, Ammons said that he would like to extend the sabbatical past the one-year specified in the current contract.

“The president would like to extend the sabbatical past one year, stating that the university has set precedence by doing that for previous presidents,” Lawson said.

According to Lawson, even with the proposed amendments, Ammons’ total compensation would put him in the bottom third of the salaries of other state university presidents.

According to a survey of public university presidential salaries conducted by “The Chronicle of Higher Education,” Ammons made a total of $364,000 during the 2009-10 school year. Ammons’ base pay is $225,000 from the state of Florida. The FAMU Foundation provides the rest. The evergreen, and super-majority clauses of Ammons’ contract were also discussed.

The evergreen clause, to some degree, makes Ammons’ post as president permanent.

“The evergreen clause just says that Ammons contract is renewed everyday,” said Fuse-Hall.

For his term to end, Ammons must either voluntarily resign or the board must have a two-thirds majority to terminate him without cause.

Due to the evergreen nature of Ammons’ contract, the agreement cannot be negotiated, without first consulting the president and his legal counsel.

Lawson said that Ammons has not had an attorney present throughout negotiations.

The supermajority clause says the board would need a two-thirds majority to terminate Ammons.

In 2010, Ammons accepted an $81,250 bonus just days before the faculty was given a $1000 compensation increase. He was also awarded a $113,750 bonus in 2009. Both were based on performance.

According to Fuse-Hall, none of these amendments will be made until the next board meeting. There is no set date for the meeting.