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FAMU's new leader charts a fresh course
Accountability is key, James Ammons says.
By NICOLE BARDO-COLON, Times Correspondent
Published September 8, 2007
TALLAHASSEE - A packed gymnasium at Florida A&M University greeted the school's 10th president, James Ammons, Friday morning as he delivered his "State of the University" address.
The Marching 100, students, faculty, staff members and community leaders welcomed Ammons as he expressed hope for the university's future.
Ammons said the recent turbulent chapter in FAMU's history is over, and he vowed to restore the public's faith in the university.
"We stand at the door of a new era of excellence and accountability," he said.
Ammons listed many areas he would like to improve. Chief among them was financial accountability.
"It is extremely important that we are accountable for every dollar that is entrusted to this university," Ammons said.
He said his administration is putting processes and procedures in place that will help reach that goal.
"We're going to run this university effectively and efficiently," Ammons said. "We're going to handle our business."
The state's only historically black university has suffered in recent years because of financial mismanagement exacerbated by turnover in the president's office and in several major FAMU colleges and departments.
In June, a national accrediting body put FAMU on probation over concerns in those areas.
The university was required to submit its first monitoring report on Friday to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Ammons said the school is prepared to submit the report on time.
Ammons addressed other improvement areas, including boosting efforts in retention and recruitment, salary increases for the faculty and staff, and making a larger impact in the community.
His speech also reminisced about some of the milestones in the university's 120-year history. These included the Tallahassee bus boycott and other student-led protests, and the founding of different schools at the university. There was a special tribute to Althea Gibson, a FAMU grad who was the first African-American to win the U.S. Open and Wimbledon tennis tournaments. Students expressed their hope in the new direction of the university and its new president.
Kelly Scavella, 23, an international agriculture and business student, said she was inspired by Ammons' speech.
"It made me look inside myself to see where I can improve the school and the community," Scavella said.
"I like the way he stated everything," said Berlange Desinor, 18, a freshman premed biology student. "Even though we were shifting in a bad direction, we are going to go back to perfection. FAMU is known for producing great students. This is just a glitch in the process."