Florida A&M University

Robert Champion, a FAMU Drum Major, died in Nov. 2011 from injuries related to a hazing ritual.
Robert Champion

There will be no plea deal for one of the four remaining defendants facing manslaughter charges in the 2011 hazing death of a Florida A&M University band drum major.

The trial for the final four FAMU band members charged in the hazing death of drum major Robert Champion starts next week.

An attorney for Benjamin McNamee told Judge Rene Roche on Wednesday that his client would consider a plea deal if it could be done before the judge who had handled the case previously, but Roche rejected the idea.

Robert Champion, a FAMU Drum Major, died in Nov. 2011 from injuries related to a hazing ritual.
Robert Champion

The four remaining defendants in the hazing death of a Florida A&M University marching band drum major are about to go on trial, and their attorneys argue what happened to Robert Champion was part of a contest.

Defense attorneys are making a case that Florida's anti-hazing law is so vague that what happened to Champion wasn't hazing but part of a contest.
The defense is asking a judge for a hearing challenging the anti-hazing law. Circuit Judge Rene Roche set a hearing a week before the defendants' Oct. 27 trial.

Elmira Mangum speaking
Donald DeBevoise / WFSU News

Elmira Mangum’s Inauguration as Florida A&M University’s eleventh president capped a week of celebrating the school’s “new season” with her appointment. Speakers from FAMU and across the nation praised Mangum and her vision for the school at the ceremony Friday.

Elmira Mangum
FAMU Office of Communications

Florida A&M University is leading up to the Friday inauguration of President Elmira Mangum with a week of community-centered events reflecting some of Mangum’s central priorities.

Mangum will officially be named the university’s 11th president during a ceremony Friday at the school’s Alfred J. Lawson, Jr. Multipurpose Center and Teaching Gymnasium. FAMU  co-chair of the inauguration week Professor Ann Kimbrough says, “This week’s activities all reflect Dr. Mangum’s initiatives, and more importantly, where she would like to have the spotlight shown in certain areas."

Charlie Crist's twitter

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist says the black vote is crucial to winning the upcoming general election against Republican Governor Rick Scott. On Tuesday, Crist made those remarks in Tallahassee at the historically black university, Florida A and M.

During a campaign event touting higher education, Crist said the turnout in the African American community is very critical, and encouraged FAMU students to help get others to the polls.

Athletics Director Kellen Winslow

Florida A&M University’s new leader is laying out her priorities for the school. That includes focusing on boosting enrollment numbers, retaining students and increasing research. University officials say one way to grow FAMU’s numbers is by getting serious about athletics.

Florida State University

Florida State University has backslid slightly in its quest to break into the highest national university rankings.

U.S. News and World Report has released its latest list of top schools. Florida State slid three places to number 43 among all public universities. It’s been trying to break into the Top 25 schools on the list for some years now. In a release, FSU downplayed the slide, with interim President Garnett Stokes saying, “long-term investments we are making should be reflected in the U.S. News & World Report rankings in the coming years.”   

The drumline warms up Thursday evening as band director Sylvester Young looks on.
Nick Evans

Football in Tallahassee isn’t just a popular sport, it’s woven into the city’s culture.  Along with the teams there’s the bands. For Florida A&M University’s Marching One Hundred the first performance comes this weekend in Miami.  In the second part of an on-going series, Nick Evans reports on the band as they prepare for gameday.

At FAMU, the relationship between the football team and the marching band is a little bit different.  Even though the team has a lot of talented players, the school has for years been better known for The Marching 100. 


A Florida A&M University law professor is suing her employer over what she says is gender discrimination and unequal pay.

Law Professor Jennifer Smith says she’s been repeatedly denied a promotion as retaliation for requesting public records about professor pay. She also alleges the FAMU Law School administrators hire men at rate rates than women and pay them more. Smith, an assistant professor, was granted tenure in 2010 but has been denied a promotion to full professor since then.

Donald DeBevoise

Florida A&M University plans to suspend its men’s golf and tennis programs in an effort to rein in a recurring budget deficit.

The move comes at the direction of the university’s new Athletics Director, Kellen Winslow, who, in a statement from the university, says “the current financial situation of the athletics department makes it imperative” to cut the programs. At many colleges and university’s athletics is responsible for raising its own money.  

Tom Flanigan / WFSU News


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.”

York College / flickr.com/creativecommons

Legendary poet and activist Maya Angelou died Wednesday, but three years ago Tallahassee played host to the famed writer for an evening of song and lecture at Florida A&M University.

During Angelou’s appearance in Tallahassee she relied on a wheelchair and seemed frail-—being helped onstage by an assistant. But her voice was strong, and she had lots to talk about.

LHatter / WFSU News

When it comes to softball, Tallahassee’s higher education institutions are on a roll. Florida A&M, Florida State and Tallahassee Community College’s women’s teams are all heading to playoffs, giving the Capital City something to cheer about.

seminoles.com / Florida State University

During last weekend’s annual NFL draft nearly a dozen Florida State football players were snapped up by pro teams. With a couple FAMU players also getting a shot, Tallahassee schools could get more representation in the NFL.

A former Florida A&M University band member has been sentenced to jail for the 2011 death of a drum major.

In all 13 people were charged in the hazing death of drum major Robert Champion. Six have received probation but no jail or prison sentences.

Friday, Jessie Baskin became the first person to receive a jail sentence in the case. Baskin  received a year behind bars, along with five years of probation and 300 hours of community service for his role in the hazing ritual aboard a bus in Orlando that led to Champion’s death.

Florida A&M University

A new 24-hour news network targeting a national African-American audience is coming to Tallahassee after partnering with Florida A&M University

A signing ceremony Friday morning at FAMU marks the beginning of an 11-year partnership between the school and the Black Television News Channel. It will be housed in FAMU’s School of Journalism and Graphic Design. Though many minority networks struggle for revenue, BTNC co-founder Robert Brillante maintains his channel has a significant advantage.

Florida A&M University and Florida State University are partnering up to bridge the gap between workforce needs and the type of degrees students are earning. 

The two schools will split a state-issued $3 million grant to focus on improving the information technology workforce in North Florida.

Update: Florida A&M University has reached a deal with incoming president Elmira Mangum. In a statement issued around 10:20 p.m. Thursday, FAMU's board chairman Solomon Badger said, “We are pleased that we have approved the terms of the presidential contract and in speaking with Dr. Elmira Mangum tonight, she has agreed to accept the terms in the updated contract. We look forward to our meeting with the Board of Governors on February 20 to confirm her appointment.”

Florida A&M University trustees are still trying to iron out a contract with the school's president-select Elmira Mangum. 

Trustees met Friday to approve several changes to the school’s contract offer—but the process has some wondering if Mangum will still want the job when negotiations are complete.

John W. Thompson, CEO of Virtual Instruments and former CEO of Symantec Corp, has been named chairman of Microsoft’s board of directors.

Thompson was the only African American leading a major tech company during his time at Symantec. He  is credited with increasing that company's revenues by more than $5.5 billion to $6.2 billion.

Florida A&M UniversityTrustees are still working on a three-year contract for Elmira Mangum, who is set to start her new job April first and have delayed approval of the contract.

Trustees don’t like annuity payments of 15 percent added on to Mangum’s salary. Those could be pared back to 10 percent. The group also wants changes to how much Mangum could receive if she’s fired. But some trustees seem to have particular trouble with Mangum’s $425,000 proposed salary; $84,000 more than what FAMU’s last full-time president, James Ammons, was making when he resigned.

LHatter / myflorida.com

In the past few years, there have been several high-level vacancies at Florida’s public universities. And in many cases university trustees have expressed dissatisfaction with replacement candidates.

Such was the case at Florida A&M, where, shortly before naming Cornell University’s Elmira Mangum to the post, trustee Karl White complained about Florida’s open record laws:

“This was my 6th presidential, in some form, search. I have to say this one was the  most difficult ... based upon the constraints of the Sunshine Law," he said.

Elmira Mangum
FAMU Office of Communications

For the first time in Florida A & M’s history, a woman will head the university on a permanent basis.

Since 2010, Elmira Mangum, 60, has been at Cornell University, where she helped steer the school through the recession and rein in a nearly $150 million deficit as Vice President of Budget and Finance.  Now, she’s bringing those skills to Florida A&M, which was just freed from accreditation probation stemming in part from bad financial audits. 

Florida A&M University’s Board of Trustees has interviewed the two finalists for the school’s presidency. But as the board nears a decision on who gets the job—one issue is left unanswered what to do about interim president Larry Robinson.

Elmira Mangum is Cornell University’s Vice President of Budget. John Price is the former founding president of the University of North Texas-Dallas. Wednesday they discussed why they want to be the FAMU’s next president:

Florida A&M University could name its 11th president this week after a search committee narrowed the field of finalists from four to just two  Monday.

Elmira Mangum, the first of the four initial candidates,  heads Cornell University’s Budget Office. Magnum told trustees  when it comes to university leadership, it is a shared effort: