Search committee forum poorly attended

At a time when 19 HBCUs nationwide are without a university president, schools have been putting a lot of time and effort in choosing their next leader. 

Florida A&M officials took suggestions from the public Thursday as they embark on filling the position. that is also vacant at North Carolina Central University, Fisk University and Morehouse University. 

Barely 20 of  the room’s 75 seats were filled. Most of those present were search committee members and the Board of Trustees. There were only about three students in attendance.

Faculty Senate President Narayan Persaud was disappointed with the attendance. “We had our town hall meeting to seek input from all regarding the next FAMU President.  Attendance was poor. Only a handful of faculty attended, and Dr. Davenport was the only faculty who spoke up,” Persaud said in an email to faculty.

Interim President Larry Robinson was upbeat despite the turnout. 

“The board has done an excellent job. They’ve organized extremely well. I am very pleased with the progress. This is a very important process,” said Robinson. 

Although the search committee is tasked with choosing a candidate, the Board of Governors must confirm the selection of presidents. Many students are concerned that the FAMU communities’ voice will not be heard in the selection process. 

“The Board and committee will consider the stakeholders’ issues,” Tommy Mitchell, president of FAMU National Alumni Association and presidential search committee member, said. “It’s important to hear their questions and concerns. Those concerns should be included in questions that we ask the candidates during this process.”

Elizabeth Davenport, president of FAMU faculty union, thought the meeting was held at an inconvenient time.

 “This meeting was held at a time contrary to the culture at this university,” Davenport said. “What student stays on campus from six to eight?”

Special Assistant to the President Rosalind Fuse-Hall said the search committee has had a transparent process. 

“I feel good about the fact that this has been an open process so people can be informed about the progress that has been made,” Fuse-Hall said. 

Officials within the marketing department said information about the search process and meetings has been distributed through the university’s Facebook page, the alumni base and local newspapers. 

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