[UPDATE] FAMU Band Bus President Charged with Felony Hazing

By: Eyewitness News; Lanetra Bennett; Mike Vasilinda; Associated Press Email
By: Eyewitness News; Lanetra Bennett; Mike Vasilinda; Associated Press Email

Tallahassee, Florida- September 4, 2012

According to the Orange County Sheriff's Office, documents have been filed stating that Dante Martin was arrested on August 30 in Hillsborough County, Fla. Detectives say Martin is charged with one count of felony hazing. Bond was set at $15,000 and Martin has already bonded out of jail.

Stay tuned to Eyewitness News and WCTV.TV for more on this developing story.

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Tallahassee, Florida- August 29, 2012

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- The so-called "president" of the band bus on which a Florida A&M University band member was fatally beaten now faces a felony hazing charge.

The Orlando Sentinel cites recently revised court documents that now list 25-year-old Dante Martin as one of 12 felony defendants in the death of 26-year-old drum major Robert Champion last November.

The document, originally filed May 2, previously included 11 defendants charged with felony hazing.

Martin's attorney Richard Escobar told the newspaper prosecutors had told him they were considering the felony charge. Martin also faces two other counts of misdemeanor hazing.

Officials say Champion was punched, kicked and flogged as he tried to go from the front to the back of a charter bus after the annual Florida Classic football game against Bethune-Cookman Univeristy

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Tallahassee, Florida- August 17, 2012

FAMU's legal team is set to begin talks with Robert Champion's family attorney. Could mediation over the lawsuit in the 26-year-old drum major's hazing death end in a settlement?

The FAMU Board of Trustees voted to begin mediation with Robert Champion's family attorney regarding its civil suit against the university. When asked if FAMU will settle it, new Interim President Dr. Larry Robinson said it is a possibility.

Marching 100 Drum Major Robert Champion placed his life in his bandmates' hands during a hazing ritual. FAMU's interim president says the lawsuit over Champion's death is now in the hands of attorneys.

"Motion passes."

Thursday, the FAMU Board of Trustees authorized its legal team to start mediation with Champion's family attorney.

Said FAMU Interim President, Larry Robinson: "This is the way that the legal process works. So, we want to fully participate in that process. We'll see how that goes."

"We're optimistic that there will be change, that this new leadership will implement some new policies and procedures that protect students," said Christopher Chestnut, Champion family attorney.

New Interim President Dr. Larry Robinson says administrators have started implementing an Anti-Hazing Plan...

He says they're hiring a music department compliance officer, a special assistant to the president and a new band director.

"...Sometimes you don't have to reinvent the wheel," said Larry.

Dr. Robinson says he cannot share any specifics as far as any settlement figures. He says he does not know when mediation will begin, saying the attorneys could be meeting right now for all we know.
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Tallahassee, Florida- August 16, 2012- Noon

FAMU administrators have decided to try to settle the lawsuit filed against the university for the hazing death of drum major Robert Champion.

The FAMU Board of Trustees had a closed session this morning to discuss litigation. Immediately after opening back up to the public, the board passed a motion to enter mediation with Robert Champion's family in attempts to settle the lawsuit.

Champion died during a hazing ritual after the Florida Classic in Orlando last November. His death lead to a suspension of the marching band and President James Ammons later stepping down. At yesterday's Board of Trustees meeting, the board officially named Larry Robinson as interim President of the University. Right now, the board is hearing comments from the public- including students and faculty.

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Tallahassee, Florida- August 16, 2012- 11:10am

Florida A&M to enter mediation with dead drum major's family in an attempt to settle lawsuit.

Florida A&M University wants to try to settle the lawsuit filed against the school due to the hazing death of a band member.

FAMU trustees on Thursday voted to instruct attorneys representing the university to enter a voluntary mediation session with attorneys for the family of Robert Champion.

Champion died last November after Marching 100 members allegedly beat him during a hazing ritual.

Eleven FAMU band members face felony hazing charges, while two others face misdemeanor counts in the hazing of Champion. They have pleaded not guilty.

The Champions in their lawsuit claim university officials did not take action to stop hazing even though a school dean proposed suspending the band because of hazing three days before their son died.

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Tallahassee, Florida- August 16, 2012- 10:45am

Day two of the FAMU Board of Trustees meeting. Interim FAMU President Dr. Larry Robinson says that the chancellor of the Florida Board of Governors says reports of the BOG investigation of hazing at FAMU is forthcoming and will be available in September. FAMU will have the opportunity to respond to the findings.

Robinson encouraged the board and community to support the FAMU athletics department. He says they're going to be asking others to buy tickets. Head football coach Joe Taylor addressed the board and said that the players look good and are ready for the season. He mentioned the need for facility upgrades and said alumni need to give back.

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Tallahassee, Florida- August 15, 2012- 5:30 pm

FAMU's Board of Trustees has confirmed Dr. Larry Robinson as the interim university president, but will he be in the running for the job permanently?

Dr. Robinson began serving as FAMU's interim president last month when Dr. James Ammons resigned but, trustees confirmed that decision today.
Trustee Persuad says the university has the best of both worlds, because Dr. Robinson is an "insider" and an "outsider" explaining that Robinson isn't a graduate of FAMU, but, he is dedicated to the institution.

"Aye"
The FAMU Board of Trustees has confirmed Dr. Larry Robinson as the interim president of the university.
While he got a standing ovation from the audience during Wednesday's board meeting, some of his biggest supporters were at the table with him.

Said FAMU trustee, Cleve Warren: "I have great confidence in his capacity to manage this interim period at the university."

"I have absolutely no doubt of Dr. Robinson's ability and willingness to move this university forward during this very difficult time," said Trustee Bill Jennings.

Dr. Narayan Persaud, another Trustee said: "I can say on behalf of the faculty at Florida A&M University that we are proud to have Dr. Robinson serve as the interim president."

Dr. Robinson says the trustees' kind remarks made his day but, he knows the days ahead won't be all smiles...
He's been serving as interim since July 16th after Dr. James Ammons resigned as president -- which was a part of the fallout of the November hazing death of drum major Robert Champion.

Said Robinson: "I want parents to know that we place a lot of emphasis on safety, not just the hazing issue alone, but our overall perspective."

Dr. Robinson says one of his major focuses is on student retention and progression... "Not only on their progression, but things that help to reduce their accumulation of debt; probably be a little bit more intrusive than perhaps we've been in the past and making sure we do everything we can in making sure we keep these kids on track."

The board chairman also announced this morning a nine-member search committee for a new permanent president at FAMU. The committee is made of trustees, along with the alumni association president and a member of the Florida Board of Governors.

Dr. Robinson has also reported that he would be proud to be the president of FAMU, but, says, he is taking that option off of the table in order to provide the stability needed in this transition period. He says it will hopefully avoid controversy and will lead to more candidates willing to apply.

TALLAHASSEE, Florida- August 15, 2012- Noon

Dr. Larry Robinson is officially the interim president at FAMU. The Board of Trustees opened their meeting on August 15th with the vote.

Dr. Larry Robinson has been serving as the interim president at FAMU since July 16th. Members of the board of trustees asked then for time to get to know Dr. Robinson before confirming that decision. When they voted yes this morning, Dr. Robinson got a standing ovation.

Dr. Larry Robinson became interim when Dr. James Ammons resigned in the aftermath of a drum major's hazing death.
This is only the third time the board of trustees has had to select a president. In 2002, trustees had to replace Dr. Frederick Humphries and in 2006, they had to find a replacement for Dr. Fred Gainous.
Trustee Bill Jennings, who chaired both previous president searches, says one of the first things they have to do now is decide what type of president they really want.

Jennings recommends retaining an executive search firm.

Dr. Robinson will not be applying for the permanent position.

Dr. Robinson says his work plan would include enhancing doctoral programs, enhancing online degrees, and increasing the graduation rate. He says as interim president, he will use the university's strategic plan as his framework.

His salary will be $325,000 a year.

Today's vote by trustees to appoint Dr. Robinson as interim president is still subject to confirmation by the board of governors.
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DR. LARRY ROBINSON NAMED INTERIM PRESIDENT; SEARCH COMMITTEE TO BE CO-CHAIRED BY TRUSTEES KARL WHITE AND DR. SPURGEON MCWILLIAMS

Florida A&M University (FAMU) Board of Trustees (BOT) unanimously agreed to appoint Larry Robinson to serve as interim president until a permanent president is appointed.

Robinson’s appointment must be confirmed by the Florida Board of Governors.

In outlining his plan as interim president, Robinson said that the foundation has been established for his work.

“As I assume this post, I do not have to start from scratch,” said Robinson. “Over the past 125 years, the framework has been established and the future direction for the university is clearly articulated in our 2010-2020 strategic plan, which is appropriately titled FAMU 2020 Vision With Courage. Considering all that has happened, we continue to do remarkable things at FAMU. I would like to contribute this success to the dedication, commitment and perseverance of our students, faculty, staff, alumni and supporters near and far.”

The FAMU BOT also outlined its new process for conducting the presidential search and appointed Trustees Karl White of Boston and Dr. Spurgeon McWilliams of Tallahassee as co-chairs of the search committee. Other Board members appointed to the search committee include: Narayan Persaud, president of the Faculty Senate; Marissa West, president of the FAMU Student Government Association; Torey Alston of Fort Lauderdale; Belinda Reid-Shannon of Raleigh; and Marjorie Turnbull of Tallahassee. Tommy Mitchell, president of the National Alumni Association, and the Honorable Elizabeth Webster, member of the Florida Board of Governors, were appointed to the committee. Chairman Solomon Badger will serve as an ex-officio member.

Chairman Badger also appointed an advisory committee to the search committee which includes Trustee C. William Jennings of Orlando; Chairman of the Board of Governors Dean Colson; and Frederick S. Humphries, former president of FAMU.

Badger welcomed Robinson as interim president and has asked the search committee to consider:

• Developing a process that begins with soliciting input from the board, alumni, faculty, administrators, staff and students, as well as other university supporters that will result in the Leadership Statement;

• Making a recommendation about securing a search firm;

• Developing a timeline for the search process which includes the screening, interviewing and a short list of candidates for the board to interview; and

• Developing a communication strategy for keeping the board and the public informed about the process.

“I would ask the committee to keep this process as transparent as possible, while also balancing the need to permit the process to work effectively,” said Badger. “Please know that this Board and the University are committed to an open process that abides by the Public Meetings and Public Records laws.”

Robinson was appointed chief executive officer on July 16, 2012, and was to be considered for confirmation at the next BOT meeting. Robinson, who has served twice as university provost, has served in various leadership posts. He was assistant secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); the vice president for research and a professor in the Environmental Sciences Institute (now School of the Environment) at FAMU; and director of the NOAA Environmental Cooperative Science Center (ECSC) headquartered at FAMU, which consists of a broad, multi-institutional consortium of predominantly minority-serving institutions.

Between 1984 and 1997, Robinson served as a research scientist and a group leader at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. His work there included detection and assessment of special nuclear materials and application of nuclear methods in nonproliferation, environmental science, forensic science and the assessment of high purity materials. From 1997 to 2003, Robinson directed FAMU’s Environmental Sciences Institute where he led efforts to establish bachelor and doctoral degree programs. In 2007, he became the first African American to serve as the science advisor to the United States Department of Agriculture’s Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service.

According to Badger, Robinson will not seek the permanent position as FAMU president and will earn a salary at a rate of $325,000 annually.

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- August 15, 0212 - 11:20am -

The FAMU Board of Trustees just voted to confirm Dr. Larry Robinson as the interim president of FAMU.

Dr. Robinson received a standing ovation by the audience when the vote was taken.Trustee Jennings called Dr. Robinson one of his heroes.

Robinson had been serving his regular role if university Provost and interim president since July 16th. He will serve as interim president until a new president begins working. The board is scheduled to discuss the president search process during today's board of trustees meeting. The meeting is being held in the Grand Ballroom on campus.

The trustees are now discussing a search plan for a new president.
This is only the third time the board has had to select a president. In 2002, trustees had to replace Dr. Frederick Humphries and in 2006, they had to find a replacement for Dr. Fred Gainous.

Trustee Jennings, whom chaired both previous president searches, says one of the first things they have to do now is decide what type of president they really want.

Jennings recommends retaining an executive search firm.

Dr. Robinson will not be applying for the permanent position.

Search committee includes :

FAMU Trustee Karl White and Trustee Spurgeon McWilliams are co-chairs; Trustees Narayan Persuad, Marissa West, Torey Alston, Belinda Shannon, Marjorie Turnbull, FAMU Alumni Association President Tommy Mitchell, and Elizabeth Webster from the Board of Governors

Advisory Committee: Trustee William Jennings, Board if Governors Chairman Dean Colson, and former FAMU President Frederick Humphries

The board of trustees chairman, Solomon Badger, asked the search committee to meet as soon as possible.

The committee will determine a start date.

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) --

Florida A&M University trustees still dealing with the fallout from the hazing death of a marching band member are planning to name an interim president.

James Ammons in July abruptly resigned from his job as university president.

The university board meets Wednesday and Thursday and is expected to keep Larry Robinson as interim president.

Robinson, the FAMU provost, was named interim president last month during an emergency meeting but trustees wanted to confirm the choice at a face-to-face meeting.

The board is also expected to discuss the search process it will follow to select a permanent replacement for Ammons.

Eleven FAMU band members face felony hazing charges, while two others face misdemeanor counts for alleged roles in the hazing of drum major Robert Champion. They have pleaded not guilty.


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