FAMU's President Ammons resigns

Jul 11, 2012

Florida A&M University President James Ammons has resigned as the university continues to deal with the fallout from the hazing death of one of the school band's drum majors.

Just weeks ago FAMU's board of trustees issued a vote of "no confidence" in Ammons over the way the university has handled the case. Ammons said at the time he had considered stepping aside but in the end decided to remain.

Wednesday, Ammons issued a letter to the board stating his intentions to leave the university.

"I am determined to move all the major challenges toward resolution," Ammons wrote in his resignation letter. " When the next president experiences her or his transition in, she or he will likely find additional challenges, albeit not nearly to the extent at that which I faced at the outset, or those I am now facing."

Ammons was brought in to the university to clean up a series of financial problems that resulted in the school having its accreditation threatened back in 2006. Since then the school has had a string of clean audit findings. However, in the wake of the Robert Champion hazing scandal, it was learned that the band program had paid out per-diem funds to more than 100 people who were not registered students.

There was also an unrelated problem which led to the departure of the schools auditor general for not finishing some audit reports.

"I realize that this must have been a very difficult decision for President Ammons and his family," said Florida Board of Governors Chairman Dean Colson. "As the President candidly and correctly noted in his letter, there are challenges remaining at FAMU that ‘must be met head on.’ The Florida Board of Governors is committed to continued assistance to the FAMU Board of Trustees in order to fully resolve these challenges and ensure FAMU’s future success.”

Ammons had been under increasing pressure to step aside from the Board of Governors and Governor Rick Scott. The University's own board also issued a vote of no-confidence in the president at its most recent full meeting.

"I am saddened by President Ammons' decision to resign, but it is his choice to do so.  Given all that has transpired, it seems to be in the best interest of the University and I applaud him for putting FAMU ahead of his personal goals," said FAMU board Chairman Solomon Badger.

The President's resignation comes at the same time that Robert Champion's family has announced a civil lawsit against the school for his death.

"“We have known for quite some time that the family intended to file suit.   Our hearts and prayers still go out to the Champion family.  We are unable to comment further due to the pending litigation surrounding this matter," said University spokeswoman Sharon Saunders.