Florida A&M University’s Board of Trustees is refusing to discuss contract renewal for university president Elmira Mangum—at least for now. But the decision puts her continued service in doubt.
UPDATED 4:40 pm:
Mangum’s tenure as university president—the so called Rattler in Chief—has been a contentious one. And after Friday’s Board of Trustees meeting it may be coming to an end.
The Board Friday chose to hold off on renewing her contract until performance evaluations conclude later this year. But Board Chair Kelvin Lawson says the trustees haven’t closed the door on Mangum.
“I think the best way to discuss that is post a second year’s evaluation,” Lawson explains, “which we will get early to mid-August. And at that point, based on the results of that evaluation, the Board may opt to do nothing and let the contract expire or they may opt to take some other action.”
Those other actions could include termination, but Lawson says no one is seriously considering it. The Board could also extend the current contract or entering into new negotiations. If the contract expires Mangum’s presidency would end in April. She won’t say whether she would be open to new terms.
Some have questioned Mangum’s leadership, but Friday she defended her record.
“We make decisions based upon where we are, where we want to be, understanding where we have been and making sure that we are not repeating—I’m going to say—the less than stellar outcomes of the past,” Mangum says.
Because of slipping graduation rates, the school lost out on the last round of performance based funding.
But criticism of Mangum’s administration isn’t always tied to student performance. Just ahead of this month’s meetings, former trustee Reverend R.B. Holmes released a joint letter with a number of former university presidents urging the board not to renew Mangum’s contract.
“And I pray to god, that you will search your heart and do what is in the best interest of faculty, staff, students and the future of FAMU and historical black colleges and universities, god bless you,” Holmes said at Friday’s board meeting.
Holmes and others who signed on to his letter bristle at what they sees as lack of communication and attention from the current administration.
The Board unanimously voted to wait on contract talks until performance evaluations conclude later this year. But that likely pushes a decision past the June 30 deadline in Mangum’s contract. If the Mangum and the board can’t mend fences, her presidency would come to an end April next year.