Florida A&M University

Florida A&M University has offered $300,000 to settle a lawsuit stemming from the hazing death of a band drum major. But the family of the drum major is calling the offer “insulting.”

The university made the offer after mediation with the family failed.

Attorney Chris Chestnut, who represents the parents of Robert Champion, the FAMU '"Marching 100" drum major who died last November after being beaten in a hazing ritual, says the university's  $300,000 offer shows it isn't serious about resolving the case.

Ryan Benk / WFSU-FM

About 50 years ago, African Americans were fighting for their civil rights, including the right to vote. And, with early voting underway in Florida, state and local leaders are joining people, like U-S Congressman John Lewis, a Civil rights icon, in encouraging young African American voters to take advantage of the remaining early voting days.

“Fired Up! Ready To Go! Fired Up! Ready to Go! Then, Let’s Vote!”

On a windy day in Tallahassee, U.S. Congressman John Lewis got the students at Florida A and M University “fired up and ready to vote!”

The family of a student molested at Florida A&M University’s lab school by another student says they will file a lawsuit unless FAMU agrees to a million dollar settlement.  The case follows the conviction of 19-year-old Ralph Monroe II who is currently serving a mandatory life sentence for the crime.

The first of 12 former Florida A&M University band members facing felony charges in the hazing death of a drum major has been sentenced to community service and probation after an Orange County judge said he played only a minor role in the hazing death of Robert Champion.

Florida A&M began its life as the State Normal College for Colored Students on October 3, 1887 with 15 students and two instructors. But getting to 125 years old hasn’t been easy for the school. Its student body helped launch the Tallahassee Bus Boycott of the 1950’s and the lunch counter sit-in’s of the 1960’s.

LHatter / WFSU

Students at Sealey Elementary school are being encouraged to “Go For the Gold” this year as the school kicks off its annual reading campaign. More than 200 students packed the cafeteria-turned -auditorium of Sealey Elementary School Monday to hear LeVonne Idlette—a student at the Florida A&M University College of Law who competed in the 100 meter hurdles during the 2012 Olympic games in London.

Florida A&M University is continuing with efforts to educate students about the effects of hazing. Thursday the university suspended classes and held a hazing town hall meeting with a panel of experts.  The meeting coincided with the introduction of a federal bill to impose new penalties on hazing perpetrators.

Erich Martin / WFSU

Florida A&M University’s Rattler Football team played its first home game of the season over the weekend and beat the Hampton University Pirates with a score of 44-20. And the team did so without the school’s famed marching band cheering them on. And longtime fans of Rattler football say it’s just not the same without the band.  

Hip Hop Recording Artist Future performed his hit single “Turn off the Lights” during the halftime show, and the crowd sang along. But reviews of Future’s performance, were mixed.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has concluded its investigation into the finances of the Florida A&M University’s marching band. The investigation was launched following the hazing death of school band drum major Robert Champion last November. The probe found several instances of missing money and duplicate payments to band members and others who traveled with the Marching 100.

In the nine months since Champion death, FAMU has dealt with the arrest and felony charges for 12 former band members, the resignation of the school’s longtime band director and university president, as well as negative publicity. And students like Rance Rutherford say almost everywhere they go, people want to know what’s going on:


Florida A&M University is looking to the future after nine months of negative attention stemming from the hazing death of school band Drum Major Robert Champion. There are also fewer students on campus this year as a result of declining enrollment, but school officials and students are cautiously optimistic that FAMU has turned a corner.

FAMU’s interim president Larry Robinson says he knows the past year has been rough for the school, and he urged students to consider how their actions can be perceived by others.

From the Florida A&M University Press Office:

After months of bad headlines stemming from the hazing death of a band member and subsequent investigations into the school’s finances, Florida A&M University is now experiencing a  steep decline in enrollment. The enrollment drop comes with its share of problems, but  some university officials say it also has a bright side.

Florida A&M University’s events director is facing eight misdemeanor charges for filing fraudulent travel expenses.

FAMU events director Tammy Hamlet is accused of falsifying mileage reports and departure times for trips she took between September 2010 and May 2011. Investigators say she then submitted those reports for reimbursement from the university, resulting in $1,821 worth of fraudulent charges.  Florida Department of Law Enforcement Spokesman Steve Arthur says this investigation is one of many that began after the death of band drum major Robert Champion.

Florida A&M University wants to settle a lawsuit stemming from the hazing death of one of the school band’s drum majors. University trustees voted Thursday to direct their attorney’s to enter a mediation session with the attorneys representing the parents of Robert Champion, who died in November after being beaten in a hazing ritual. Lynn Hatter reports FAMU’s attorney says they want the courts to dismiss the lawsuit.  

A mediation session is required before the case against the university can go to a trial.


One of the first issues before FAMU’s Presidential search committee is to decide what kind of candidate it wants to lead the 124-year-old institution. Many of FAMU’s former presidents have been alumni and all have had ties to academia, but some say it might be time for FAMU to look outside the box:

“I think we should reach for a river, for wherever the leadership is that can run the school. We won’t be able to restrict leadership to a given category. That’s my personal opinion," said FAMU Board Chairman Solomon Badger.


Florida A&M University is set to admit its first class of students at its Pharmacy school extension program in Crestview. Pharmacy Dean Michael Thompson says the start of the school is the first of many health-related programs it plans to bring to bring to the rural panhandle city.

Historically Black Colleges and Universities aren’t just for black students. While many of these institutions, commonly referred to as “HBCU’s” have their roots set in America’s segregated past, today they are the college or university of choice for an increasingly diverse array of students.       


Florida A&M University has received a five-million dollar grant to study breast and lung cancer disparities in African-Americans.

FAMU is recruiting doctoral students to be a part of the research team and is partnering with Tallahassee Memorial Health Center to provide mammograms for women who can’t afford them.  

Interim University President Larry Robinson said the grant allows the school’s faculty and students to focus on important health issues.

The grant was provided by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities.

Florida A&M University

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:

Update 2:24 pm:  Ammons will recieve more than $98,000 in bonuses per a revised statement from FAMU spokeswoman Pam Tolson:

"The Board agreed to pay the 2010-2011 bonus at the minimum contractual level of 25 percent ($81,250) of his base salary of $325,000.  The 5 percent bonus for 2011-2012 is $17,062 based on his base salary of $341,250."


Update: 12:10 pm:    Ammons will receive more than $100,000 in bonuses in exchange for resigning immediately. From FAMU spokeswoman Pam Tolson:

Florida A&M University is preparing to launch another presidential search. It will be the third time in the in the last decade the school has had to look for a new president, after James Ammons announced he is resigning from the post. FAMU is still dealing with the fallout from a hazing scandal prompted by the death of a drum major. But those problems are only the tip of the iceberg facing the university. 

Florida A&M University’s Board of Trustees will meet Monday to discuss how to move forward in the wake of the resignation of the school’s president. James Ammons abruptly resigned Wednesday, about a month after the board issued a no-confidence vote in his job performance. FAMU is still dealing with the fallout from a hazing scandal in its band program. It’s also under fire for incomplete audits and low graduation rates.

Florida A & M University President James Ammons resigned Wednesday in the wake of the hazing death of Marching 100 band drum major Robert Champion and other problems facing the university.

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.