Florida A&M’s governing board reached a deal Monday to pay former President James Ammons more than $98,000 dollars in bonuses in exchange for speeding up his resignation date. Ammons was originally set to leave by October 11. FAMU’s Provost Larry Robinson will serve as interim president at least until the school’s board meets in August. Student board member Marissa West called for Robinson’s appointment saying the university needs some stability:
“I think that we’ve seen the negative effects of letting things linger and not being decisive and not having solutions.”
But Robinson’s appointment may also be temporary. In the run up to the board’s Monday meeting other suggestions to fill the interim position were tossed out, most which aren’t affiliated with FAMU. And Board member Rufus Montgomery says while he has no objections to Robinson filling the post, he wants the door to stay open for other people to be considered:
“In our August meeting, after an exchange of the board and a discussion with potential candidates…and to trustee Lawson’s point: if there are other people interested in this…I mean, since I’ve been on the board we haven’t made a quick decision about anything. We couldn’t even make a decision when someone was killed.”
Ammons in the latest person to resign in the wake of the hazing death of band drum major Robert Champion. Former band Director Julian White stepped down earlier in the year. But the resignations may not end there. University Board member Torey Alson says more people need to go.
"Everyone wants stability. But I also believe that there have to be major reforms and changes at the university based on all these things we’ve been talking about. There are still major issues and probably some people in the wrong places and wrong seats that I think has to be dealt with immediately.”
As interim President Robinson’s task is to begin the clean-up process. He came back to FAMU last year after serving briefly in the Obama Administration. Shortly after the board’s meeting Robinson spoke for the first time. He says he’s honored to have the interim slot, even if it’s only for a short time. And he also says the school won’t be doing business as usual:
“We have some things we need to work on and we’re going to work on those. I see it as an opportunity for the university to move forward on a number of fronts and that’s what I’m going to be looking to do.”
Meanwhile Ammons is now on sabbatical until October, at which time he will become a tenured faculty member. In the five years he was at the helm of FAMU, the school had string of clean audits and achieved full accreditation of its College of Law. But a hazing scandal within the school’s band program and other issues arising in the last several months marred that record.