TALLAHASSEE - A lawmaker told Florida A&M president Fred Gainous on Thursday to fix the school's accounting and bookkeeping problems soon and make sure they never happen again.
Sen. Les Miller, D-Tampa, said he was holding Gainous and Florida A&M trustees chairman James Corbin responsible for ensuring that they can end years of sloppy bookkeeping practices at the nation's largest historically black institution.
"It's an embarrassment because I'm black," said Miller, whose wife and son are Florida A&M graduates. "I'll be damned if I'm going to let it happen while I'm in this Legislature."
Corbin, in response to a separate question by the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Education, said Florida A&M has been able to skate by with lax standards for years. He blamed it on the former Board of Regents, of which he was once a member.
"We were not held, in my opinion, to the same kind of rigorous standards as the other universities," Corbin said.
Miller said those days are over.
"To have people continuously say to me (that) FAMU can't do this or that because it's a predominantly black university, that's a bunch of bull," he said. "FAMU will have standards and those standards will have to be in place just like any other university."
Florida A&M's trustees approved an eight-point plan Monday designed to turn around its bleak history of managing finances. It would include hiring a vice president for fiscal affairs and developing a long-term financial plan. That plan must be ready by Jan. 19.
The school has had a series of financial problems, including late financial aid payments to students, questionable spending or thefts by former employees and sloppy business practices that might have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.