An email sent by a group, calling itself Coalition to Reinstate Mangum, on Sept. 20 made claims that the university violated legal and ethical standards in the dismissal of former Florida A&M University President Elmira Mangum.
Mangum was placed on paid administrative leave Sept. 15 after a 10-1 vote by the Board of Trustees. The board named Larry Robinson interim president, a role he has filled twice previously, including for 22 months prior to the start of the Mangum administration in April 2014.
“The Florida Governor, Florida Department of Education, Board of Governors, and the Board of Trustees remain active participants in discrimination and unfair treatment of Florida’s only public HBCU: FAMU,” read the email by the Coalition.
The Coalition did not respond to email requests to explain its origins or who are its core members. No one to date has assumed responsibility for the organization.
The Coalition specifically targets the governing branch of FAMU; Board of Governors member Alan Levine, Trustee Kelvin Lawson and Trustee Thomas Dortch. The trustee members are accused of breaking the law by discriminating and using gender terms in Mangum’s evaluation.
According to the email, “Levine serves as a ‘master’ over FAMU slaves. Racism at its best.” Levine is also accused of attacking FAMU alumni and students via email and social media.
Lawson “violated students’ right to freedom of speech and peaceful protests by calling police to scare students from showing support for President Mangum,” alleged the email.
FAMU students approached by The Famuan said they were unaware of the “Coalition” but each expressed support for Mangum.
“I would be elated if she were reinstated. She did a lot of good things for the campus,” said Trenton Ward, third-year music industry student. “I absolutely feel like she did her job. She intertwined with students and helped out. Whenever students’ voiced opinions, she did the best she could to get the job done.”
The email also states that the board broke conflict of interest policies by allowing members to vote when Lawson’s brother, Al Lawson “was running against Dr. Mangum for the presidency and is a lobbyist for Florida State University.”
Al Lawson, the older brother of BOT chair Kelvin Lawson, never made it the second round for the presidency in 2013. Lawson is running as a candidate for the Democratic Party for the United States Congress in the 5th district.
Levine, Dortch and Lawson were contacted, but wouldn’t respond to multiple requests for an interview with The Famuan.
The Coalition went on to accuse trustee members of lying on record against published minutes to persuade other trustees in voting to remove Mangum. Second-year English education student, Kaitlin Haines said, “I feel like she was a good president, but she was pushed out by the Board of Trustees. I know there’s a lot of backlash from that.”