University holds public forum with presidential candidates

The university held a public forum Wednesday in Jake Gaither Gymnasium with the remaining two presidential candidates.

Elmira Mangum, who serves as vice president for planning and budget at Cornell University, and John Price, former founding president of the University of North Texas at Dallas, were the finalists. Both candidates gave their opinions about important hot button issues, ranging from how to increase enrollment to hazing.

Mangum referenced her experience in education as a strength and reason for her interest in the position. She believes faculty is the “lifeblood” of the university and essential in making it a world-class university.

“I do believe everything begins with the quality of faculty that we have,” Mangum said.

Price said his experience at UNT Dallas gives him an advantage in many areas

“I know the importance of applying to the rules of SACS (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools) … doing the things you need to be doing in order to have an accredited institution,” Price said.

Chavis Walker, a third-year physical therapy student from Mount Dora, Fla., said he appreciates the university having a public forum.

“I think this is great for the community, and I was especially interested to hear how the candidates answered the questions asked,” Walker said.

To raise money and support for FAMU, Mangum plans to tap into the alumni.

“I would love to bring more alumni to the campus and get involved with programs with students, finding out what their interests are and targeting their participation on campus,” Mangum said. “People give to things they care about.”

Price thinks one way to encourage student enrollment is to examine the current university model.

“Increasing tuition every time you have a decrease in state funding is unsustainable,” Price said.

One of his goals to increase enrollment is to discover what will inspire others to give to FAMU.

“People will give out of inspiration,” Price said. “They will not give out of desperation.”

He said a winning football team and an improvement in the athletics program, for example, would also serve as inspiration to give.

When it comes to enrollment and helping students gain their degrees on time, Mangum said it’s important to find students financial assistance and services to support academic development.

“We have to be aggressive,” Mangum said. “We have to recruit. [You] have to be intentional about the students that you want.”

Mangum said although athletics and the arts may open the door for students to learn about the school, research programs and faculties get them in the door.

Erin Ravenel, a third-year nursing student from Tampa, agreed with Mangum’s answer.

“I really liked what she said about research programs and faculties,” Ravenel said. “One of the reasons that I came to FAMU was to graduate from their illustrious nursing program that I had heard exciting things about.”

Although Price said he doesn’t have experience as president in dealing with a campus the size of FAMU, he wants the focus to be on hiring the best and brightest leadership team.

Price suggested rebranding the university and being more aggressive in promotion and marketing.

“You don’t want to be the best kept secret in the world,” Price said. “You want people to know what it is you’re doing and want people to know all the areas and programs that you have.”

Another characteristic Mangum believes the president should have is accessibility.

“I believe in an open-door policy,” Mangum said.

Both Mangum and Price believe in a no-tolerance rule when it comes to hazing reform.

“Education around the process of becoming a brother or sister needs to be talked about,” said Mangum, who is also a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc.

Price said the education process should begin a student’s freshman year.

“As a part of student entrance into the university, we need to give a training on the culture and importance of organizations,” Price said.

The board of trustees will have a final vote and make its decision on FAMU’s next president as early as Thursday.