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Alumni question FAMU president

By BARRY KLEIN

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 15, 2001


BOCA RATON -- The troubling question for Florida A&M University alumni about Frederick Humphries' decision this week to resign as president is whether he jumped voluntarily, or was pushed.

Several supporters reminded him Wednesday that he promised just last month to remain president for a few more years.

That was then, Humphries responded during a meeting of the state Board of Regents.

Today, he said, "I'm just plain tired."

"It's true I said I wanted to stay on two more years, but I decided I wanted to have a different lifestyle," said Humphries, 65.

He said he is weary of the responsibility and stress of running one of the nation's top historically black universities, which he has done for 16 years.

"This was my decision," he said. "I really want to do it."

That didn't satisfy all of the alumni who came here seeking answers. One asked for an investigation of the governor's role in Humphries' departure. Another asked whether his departure could be delayed at least until a proposed reorganization of Florida's higher education system is complete.

That isn't likely to happen until well into the summer. Humphries wants to leave June 30.

He expects soon after to begin a yearlong sabbatical that includes a period of study and reflection at Cambridge University in Great Britain. Then he will become director of a science, research and policy center at the site of FAMU's new law school in Orlando.

Humphries said he made the promise last month because he wanted to ensure the new law school got off to a good start.

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