Update: FAMU Board Rejects Contract Extension For Mangum; Presidential Search Talk Begins

Aug 24, 2016

Mangum speaks with students on the first day of class (undated).
Credit LHatter / WFSU News

Florida A&M University could be without a president come April. That’s after trustees opted not to renew President Elmira Mangum’s contract. Florida A&M University may have to start searching for a new president soon. That’s after trustees refused to renew President Elmira Mangum’s contract.

Mangum’s latest evaluation shows FAMU’s governing board continues to be unimpressed with her job performance. Now that may cost her the presidency. Board member David Lawrence says Mangum’s biggest problem is her inability to form positive relationships with stakeholders.

“I think you cannot succeed in any way that’s good enough unless the issue of relationships is tackled and overcome.”

Mangum has been criticized for at times appearing standoffish. Some say that’s a sexist claim. But Lawrence says relationships are crucial—especially with lawmakers who control the purse strings.

“It’s a fatal flaw. I don’t think she can succeed without finding ways to build trust, frankly, be less defensive.”

Others say it's time to make a clean break.

“At this point I feel we’re at a bit of an impasse," said Board Chairman Kelvin Lawson. "And we have to decide A) Do we continue to try and work through whatever issues are on the table, or B) Do we take alternative steps?”  

The board has been going back-and-forth on how to handle Mangum’s employment since last October, when a different crop of trustees tried and failed to oust her. There have been problems between Mangum and trustees the state university system governing board, alumni, and faculty. In June, the board punted on whether to extend Mangum’s employment by a year. Wednesday, the board was more definitive. That meant her current still expires in April.

A proposal to extend Mangum’s employment failed on a 7-to-5 vote.  Her current contract will still expire in April. Some are already floating the idea of when to begin a new presidential search. The board is convening a task force to work with Mangum in the meantime.

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Mangum’s latest evaluation shows FAMU’s governing board continues to be unimpressed with her job performance. Mangum says most of the categories she was rated on had no clear metrics, but trustees say they have repeatedly stated their expectations. Board member David Lawrence sums up Mangum’s biggest problem. Relationships.

“I think you cannot succeed in any way that’s good enough unless the issue of relationships is tackled and overcome," he said.

Mangum has been criticized for at times appearing standoffish. Some say that’s a sexist claim. But Lawrence says relationships are crucial—especially with lawmakers who control the purse strings. A proposal to renew Mangum’s employment contract failed and as of now, she is out of the presidency in April. The board is convening a task force to work with Mangum in the meantime.

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