Florida A&M University’s new president is still making the rounds getting to know Tallahassee. In a Tuesday address to the Economic Club of Florida Elmira Mangum says while most of the issues in higher education are universal, there are some unique quirks to Florida.
"[The] biggest surprise? It was the [Sunshine] Amendment. My first 48 hours...(laughter)" she said. "Everything else in higher education is Par.”
With two days of experience as a university president Mangum was faced with the prospect of losing one of her colleges—the jointly-run FAMU-Florida State Engineering School and she had to navigate Florida open records and government laws. A proposal in the legislature aimed to split the school apart. It was later watered down to a “study”.
“You know, I tell people jumping off in the deep end is a great way to learn how to swim," she told the Club.
Since then, Mangum has been studying FAMU, looking at the university and deciding where and what the university should be focusing on. She says so far there are a few areas she believes can be boosted—research in the sciences. Mangum she wants to increase the amount of money coming into the STEM areas by 2019. To do that, she wants to turn patents on faculty research into dollars:
"My goal is to monetize as many of those patents as we can--if we can convince them to let it go--to make sure it feeds back into our academic programs.”
Mangum is also looking to create a new program focusing on environmental justice and sustainability.