UPDATE: FAMU trustees defy Gov. Scott, keep president Ammons in postby Dara Kam | December 19th, 2011
Gov. Rick Scott refused to back down from his contention that FAMU President James Ammons should step down, at least temporarily, even after the university’s board of trustees decided to keep Ammons in his post.
Scott issued the following statement shortly after the board’s conference call this morning:
“For the sake of appearances, and to assure the public that these investigations are clearly independent, I believe it would have been in the best interest of Florida A&M University for President Ammons to step aside until all of these investigations are completed. However, we have a process in Florida for the administration of the State University System, and that process has been followed. Like all other Floridians, I will abide by the decision made by the Florida A&M University Board of Trustees.”
Florida A&M University President James Ammons will remain in his post after the historically black university’s governing board this morning rejected Gov. Rick Scott’s recommendation that Ammons be suspended until investigations into the hazing-related murder of FAMU Marching 100 drum major Robert Champion are complete.
The board also agreed this morning to meet weekly for at least the next two months to receive updates on the investigations into Champion’s death – ruled Friday a homicide by the Orlando medical examiner’s office – and alleged financial wrongdoings.
“We will stand firm against outside influence regardless of how well-intended that lead to detrimental consequences that threaten the viability of the university,” Board of Trustees Chairman Solomon Badger said during a telephone conference call this morning. “Our decisions will be fact-based and will result from a deliberative process…Therefore, it is my recommendation that until a final report results from these investigations with official facts, the president’s status remains the same.”
There was no discussion of or vote on Badger’s recommendation.
Scott has repeatedly asked Ammons to step down, and called Ammons into his office Friday afternoon to urge him to step aside until the investigations are complete.
But the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools – the accrediting organization for the university – warned that Scott’s interference may threaten FAMU’s accreditation which requires that schools be free from political influence.
FAMU’s Alumni Association President Tommy Mitchell held a press conference Sunday afternoon warning Scott to let the university operate independently.
And late Sunday evening, Scott’s office issued a statement defending his actions thus far.
“It is up to the FAMU Board of Trustees and Dr. Ammons to determine how to proceed. I have not and will not try to influence their decision. I simply offered my advice and opinion based on the events and the facts I was made aware of. Like all other Floridians, I will abide by the decisions made by the Board of Trustees and President Ammons tomorrow, and I do not plan to release any further comment before then,” Scott said.
Two weeks ago, the trustees rejected a motion to suspend Ammons and instead publicly reprimanded him. Ammons abandoned an effort to fire the renowned band’s director Julian White and instead placed him on administrative leave with pay until the investigations are over.
Read more about the “culture of hazing” here.