FAMU continues efforts to repair its image


Florida A&M’s fight to end hazing and rebrand its name continued Wednesday.

The board of trustees agreed to extend the contract with the Dan Klores Communications’ (DKC’s) public relations firm until the board’s February meeting.

“At that time, we will have a report from DKC on what services they’ve provided to date and further report on what rebranding efforts there will be,” board Chairman Solomon Badger said. “From there, we will be able to have bidding progress.”

BOT members agreed the hazing allegations have put the university in crisis mode. In December 2011, the BOT hired DKC to help the university’s crisis management and rebrand at a cost of $25,000, plus $5,000 for expenses.

After 12 months of FAMU being in the national spotlight, board members are split when it comes to assessing the firm’s progress.

“I think we need to understand what crisis management means,” BOT Vice Chair Spurgeon McWilliams said. “Before we sign a contract for another year of money, I’d like to see a summary of what the firm has done to help the university. I’m not sure if they’ve helped rebrand the university.”

Sharon Saunders, chief communications officer, presented the DKC summary to the BOT.

“On many occasions, we’ve had daily contact with DKC,” Saunders said, adding that the firm has been involved with shaping stories in a positive light with media outlets.

While board member Belinda Reed Shannon is satisfied with the work of DKC, fellow board member and Faculty Senate President Narayan Persaud is dissatisfied with DKC’s progress despite the firm’s summary from Saunders.

“I’m concerned with how much we’ve paid DKC,” Persaud said. “I don’t see what they’ve produced.” Student Body President Marissa West also

weighed in on the discussion.
”I think rebranding and crisis management are

to be distinguished,” West said. “We have turned a corner in terms of public view on university, but I don’t think a large part of that is due to our business with DKC. A lot of it is just great things happening with the university.”

The marketing communication and subcommittee reported that the online surveys posted to get feedback from the public on the presidential search have done well. Alumni accounted for 61 percent of the comments. Faculty, staff, students and local community members made up 39 percent.

“I’m pleased with the work of the marketing communication subcommittee,” said BOT member Torey Alston. “The university has done a great job with the help of board member Narayan Persaud and National Alumni Association President Tommy Mitchell.”

The survey was scheduled to be closed at 5 p.m. Thursday.

In addition to the board of trustees meeting, some members were involved with the search for the next president.

The BOT hired Florida-based firm Greenwood/ Asher and Associates Inc. to assist in finding a university president. The firm has more than 65 years of experience in executive searches nationally and globally.

“This is the first time for the board of trustees to meet formally with the Presidential Search Committee firm,” Badger said.

Two of the firm’s representatives, Marion Frenche and Julie Holley, attended the meeting.

BOT members discussed leadership qualities for the university’s next president.

“Our approach isn’t passive,” Frenche said. “We don’t wait on applications to come in. We search for qualified applicants. We’re very proactive to 



the university’s presidential search.”

Both FAMU and the firm’s recruiting strategy is broad.

Both FAMU and the firm’s recruiting strategy is broad.

“We’re working to recruit qualified candidates who can demonstrate success in leadership, management and development,” Holley said.

Candidates will come into the application pool with three avenues.

“Ad avenue, nomination avenue and via market segmentation,” Holley said. “Via market segmentation is based upon criteria listed in the university’s job description.”

Board member Charles Langston said many presidents who are not academia have been successful presidents.

“Private sector versus public sector,” Langston said. “The BOT should look into that since we want to go broader.”

The BOT hopes to find a president by fall 2013.

Other HBCUs such as Morehouse College, North Carolina Central University and Fisk University are also looking for presidents.