Tallahassee, Florida- July 16, 2012
In the resignation letter that Dr. James Ammons turned in last week, he said that his time as FAMU's president had been cut short. Now, it's been cut even shorter. The Board of Trustees has voted to make Dr. Ammons' resignation effective immediately, instead of in October.
The university provost, Dr. Larry Robinson, is named interim.
Said Robinson: "We have some issues around hazing and anti-hazing we need to continue working on. We're not going to be doing business as usual. It's going to be a lot of things that we do fairly aggresive that are going to be different from the way we've done them in the past."
The chairman of the FAMU Board of Trustees told board members Monday that Dr. James Ammons is waiving his 90-day notice requirement, making Ammons' resignation as the university's president effective immediately.
The FAMU Board of Trustees scheduled a teleconference when Dr. Ammons announced last week he was resigning October 11th.
After voting to accept the suggestion to step down immediately, the board appointed FAMU Provost Dr. Larry Robinson as the interim president.
Said one FAMU Trustee, Rufus Montgomery: "Since I've been on the board, we've never made a quick decision on anything. So far we haven't made any mounmental decisions like this. We couldn't make a decision when someone was killed. So, why are we making such a rush."
Said Marissa West, Student Body President: "I think that FAMU needs pretty much immediate stability at this point. I don't think that we can afford to be left vulnerable and I think that we need to ensure a very smooth transition. I honestly think that Provost Robinson is qualified."
Robinson's appointment is subject to confirmation at the next regularly scheduled BOT meeting on August 22nd and 23rd.
Administrators say Ammons will begin his sabbatical leave tomorrow.
Tallahassee, Florida- July 16, 2012- 5:30pm
Florida A&M University’s (FAMU) Board of Trustees (BOT) today appointed Larry Robinson as interim president and permitted the resignation of FAMU President James H. Ammons to become effective today.
“I am grateful for this opportunity to serve at this critical time in the university’s history,” said FAMU Interim President Larry Robinson. “There is work to be done and I stand ready to do my absolute best to keep FAMU on its path of success. During this period, I look forward to serving our students, faculty, staff, alumni and supporters.”
Robinson’s appointment is subject to confirmation at the next regularly scheduled BOT meeting. The Board voted to move the previously scheduled September meeting to August.
During Monday’s emergency meeting, the Board agreed to waive Ammons’ contractual requirement of a 90-day notice and make his resignation effective today, July 16. According to Trustee Chair Solomon Badger III, Ammons will begin his sabbatical leave on Tuesday, July 17. The Board also agreed to pay the 2010-2011 bonus at the minimum contractual level of 25 percent ($81,250) of his base salary of $325,000. Based on the contractual agreement, the Board will also provide Ammons with a 2011-2012 bonus at 5 percent ($17,062), using the annual report he submitted as a basis.
Robinson, who has served twice as university provost, was assistant secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); the vice president for research, 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 consisted 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 baccalaureate 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.
Robinson attended LeMoyne-Owen College in 1975, graduated summa cum laude with a B.S. degree in chemistry from Memphis State University in 1979, and earned a Ph.D. degree in nuclear chemistry from Washington University in St. Louis in 1984.
Ammons during his tenure achieved several milestones:
• Four consecutive unqualified audits with no findings;
• Full accreditation of the College of Law;
• Reaccreditation of the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences;
• Worked with the Board of Trustees to develop and implement the 2010-2020 Strategic Plan, “2020 Vision with Courage;”
• Launched the Restructuring Plan;
• All-time high in enrollment in 2010;
• The re-opening of several buildings — a $42 million Teaching Gymnasium, a $12.6 million renovation to Jones Hall, a $16 million renovation to Tucker Hall, a $14.7 million renovation of the Commons Building, and a $13.5 million major renovation of Sampson and Young Halls;
• Bond approval for a $50 million project to construct an 800-bed suite-style residential facility, which will be completed in fall of 2013;
• Renovation of the Gore Education Complex at a cost of $12.4 million.
• The opening of a new center in Crestview that will produce pharmacy graduates who we hope will remain in that area; and
• Launched FAMU’s first on-line degree programs offering master’s degrees in nursing, public health, and business.
The Board agreed that at its August meeting, it will discuss various components related to the upcoming presidential search.
Tallahassee, Florida - July 17, 2012 - Noon -
Dr. James Ammons is no longer the president of FAMU. His 90-day notice was waived, making his resignation effective immediately.
The FAMU Board of Trustees had an emergency conference call meeting this morning to discuss how to handle Dr. James Ammons' resignation. Dr. Ammons turned in his resignation letter last week.
Dr. Ammons gave an October 11th date in his letter for his resignation. But, this morning, he and the Board of Trustees chairman recommended that that 90-day notice be waived. This means that Dr. Ammons' resignation is effective immediately.
The trustees voted unanimously on that recommendation during this morning's conference call meeting.
After a nearly hour-long discussion, the board then voted to name University Provost Dr. Larry Robinson as the interim president. Trustees say the appointment is subject to confirmation by the board. They say confirmation is a simple majority, which would have to be a yes vote from seven trustees.
Trustees are scheduled to vote whether to confirm Dr. Robinson as interim on a more permanent basis during their next meeting August 22 and 23.
That will be a face to face meeting on campus, not a teleconference.
Tallahassee, Florida - July 16, 2012 - 11:40am
Florida has a new “interim” president this morning. Provost Larry Robinson was given the job of making changes at the university pending a second vote in late August. Robinson joined FAMU in 1997. He served briefly as interim president in 2007. Robinson was supported by both the student and faculty trustees.
“There is a lot to think about. You know, we need to get to work on at the University. And some of those things are fairly obvious. We have some issues around hazing, or anti hazing that we need to continue working on. And even in those things we’re not going to be doing business as usual,” says Dr. Larry Robinson, FAMU Interim President.
Outgoing President Dr. James Ammons’ contract ran until October 11th. He voluntarily asked the board to waive his 90 resignation notice period. Faculty Trustee Narayan Persaud called Robinson a man not afraid to make tough decisions, someone who is inclusive and will work with faculty and students, and someone who is willing to change their mind when given the facts.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - July 16, 2012 -
Florida A&M University President James Ammons, who has been under fire since the hazing death of a marching band member, is immediately stepping down from his job.
Ammons has reached an agreement with FAMU's governing board to resign effective on Monday.
Last week, Ammons submitted a resignation letter that stated his resignation would not take effect until Oct. 11. His contract allowed him to give 90 days notice to the FAMU board, but Ammons waived the provision in exchange for getting paid bonuses.
Ammons came under fire in the wake of the hazing death of drum major Robert Champion. Trustees have complained about a lack of oversight of the famed Marching 100 band as well as lax management on other issues at the university.
As of 9:55am, the board is still discussing whether to name Dr. Robinson as interim president or wait until next month to consider him or other candidates.
The board voted to appoint Dr. Larry Robinson as interim president, subject to confirmation by the board at the next face-to-face BOT meeting in August. This would allow trustees to learn more about Robinson. They'll decide whether to decide to keep him as interim on more permanent basis. Confirmation would be simple majority, meaning seven trustees would be needed for the vote.
The Face-to-face meeting has been scheduled for August 22 and 23.
Tallahassee, Florida- July 16, 2012 - 9:50am -
Attached in PDF files above are Dr. Ammons' 2007 contract and the amended contract (2011).
The FAMU BOT Chairman and FAMU President James Ammons recommends to waiving the 90-day notice and making the resignation of Ammons effective immediately.
The board then casts a unanimous vote to make James Ammons' resignation as president effective immediately.
The board is now discussing whether to appoint provost Dr. Larry Robinson as interim president or if they should wait until their regular meeting in August.
Ammons is on phone but not in board room. He has not said anything outside of acknowledging his presence on the phone.
Trustee Rufus Montgomery says why rush a decision today when they've never made a quick decision before. Trustee Alston says there's a lot of cleaning up to do. Alston says he hopes the interim president will look at and address problems.
Stay with WCTV for more
Tallahassee, Florida- July 16, 2012
Florida A&M University's governing board is holding an emergency meeting to discuss the resignation of school president James Ammons.
The FAMU board plans to meet for three hours on Monday where it will discuss the resignation and finding a successor.
One key decision could be whether or not Ammons is allowed to remain in control, even though his resignation does not take effect until Oct. 11.
Ammons abruptly resigned last week despite surviving a no-confidence vote from FAMU trustees back in June.
Ammons has been under fire in the wake of the hazing death of drum major Robert Champion. Trustees have complained about lack of oversight of the famed Marching 100 band as well as lax management on other issues at the university.
Tallahassee, Florida- July 12, 2012
The resignation of FAMU's president has many students, parents and supporters wondering what's next for the university.
Dr. James Ammons said himself there are challenges ahead.
FAMU Alumni Association President Tommy Mitchell says he tried to convince Dr. Ammons to hold off on resigning as university president.
But, says it was inevitable because of the beating Dr. Ammons has been taking since drum major Robert Champion's hazing death.
And that, Mitchell says, will be one of FAMU's biggest challenges, even after Ammons is gone.
"On two occasions, I asked him to consider not resigning" said Mitchell.
But FAMU President Dr. James Ammons resigned Wednesday.
Said Mitchell: "The only thing that makes it best for FAMU, is the fact that they were not going to leave him alone. They couldn't bring him down without bringing FAMU down."
Dr. Ammons wrote in his resignation letter that the next president will likely find challenges.
Mitchell says the first challenge is the university's image problem.
He says FAMU has been singled out for the November 2011hazing death of Marching 100 Drum Major Robert Champion.
"To show you how bad we have become the poster child for hazing, there was a report about a hazing at another institution, but, they used FAMU pictures of the Marching 100. What really bothers me about this is, hazing is a national problem" lamented Mitchell.
Mona Brown, the mother of an incoming freshman, says the decision for a new president needs to be made fairly quickly.
"I would imagine that yeah, there will be some changes and they probably will be positive changes. We have to move forward and hope and pray that another president will be just as good or better."
Mitchell says another major challenge is how long it's taking for the hazing investigation to be completed
The FAMU Board of Trustees is meeting by phone on Monday, July 16.
Tallahassee, Florida- July 12, 2012 -Noon
The FAMU Board of Trustees has scheduled an emergency meeting in the wake of Dr. James Ammons' announcing he's stepping down as FAMU's president. Trustees will discuss the impact of the resignation and transition plan.
Eyewitness News was on FAMU's campus yesterday when the Board of Trustees discussed during their conference call the urgent need to talk about Dr. Ammons' resignation and come up with a plan on how to deal with it.
READ MORE: Rattlers React to Dr. Ammons' Resignation
Dr. James Ammons submitted his resignation to the Board yesterday. In the letter he wrote, "When the next president experiences her or his transition in, she or he will very likely find additional challenges."
Dr. Ammons originally refused to step down at some requests, after drum major Robert Champion died in November from hazing.
The chairman of the Board of Trustees, Dr. Solomon Badger, says he is saddened by President Ammons' decision to resign, but says he applauds him for putting FAMU ahead of his personal goals.
Dr. Ammons says there are new challenges that must be met head on.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – July 12, 2012 -
The Florida A&M University Board of Trustees has scheduled an emergency meeting for Monday, July 16, from 9 a.m. to noon. The subject matter is to discuss the impact of the president’s resignation and transition plan.
READ MORE: Rattlers React to Dr. Ammons' Resignation
[UPDATE] Tallahassee, Florida - July 11, 2012 11:20 p.m.
The FAMU Board of Trustees meeting Wednesday afternoon looked at the resignation letter of Dr. James Ammons.
"This was unexpected," said board member Rufus Montgomery. "This was unanticipated."
Some members wanted to put off dealing with the resignation until August, but not everyone agreed.
"Penn State dealt with their problem. They acted swiftly in a matter of days."
Montgomery was one of the trustees to push a quick action on the matter.
"This is not about hazing this is about leadership or lack of leadership at FAMU. There have been over 30 serious issues over the past year that have come before this board."
Montgomery cited the 13 arrest involved in Robert Champion's death and the fact that there won't be a marching band this Fall.
"We've got a drop in enrollment coming. I read the other day the Florida Senate's [could be] investigating the school. I mean, come on ya'll, we need to deal with this."
After much debate, the board agreed on another meeting. It will occur on Monday, July 16 at 9:00 a.m. to discuss the terms of Ammons' resignation.
"We must be able to provide the leadership that is necessary to discuss this grave issue," said board member Narayan Persaud.
THE CAPITAL, TALLAHASSEE, July 12, 2012
Michael Peltier, The News Service of Florida
Florida A&M University President James Ammons resigned Wednesday amid continuing fallout from the hazing death of "Marching 100" drum major Robert Champion and other problems at the historically black school.
A month after he received a vote of no-confidence from the FAMU Board of Trustees and nearly eight months after Champion's death, Ammons sent trustees a resignation letter on Wednesday. Ammons had been president at the Tallahassee school for five years.
In a letter to A&M Trustees Chairman Solomon Badger Ammons said he wrestled with the decision to step down as the university continued to face a number of challenges related to Champion's death and other issues that have shed a negative light on school.
"Now there are new challenges that must be met head on," Ammons wrote. "I am determined to move all of the major challenges toward resolution and move our university toward success."
The announcement came the same day Champion's family filed a lawsuit in Orlando against FAMU and the company that operated the charter bus in which the hazing allegedly occurred.
Ammons, who as president earns at least $325,000 a year, said he would stay on until Oct. 11 and remain on campus after that time as tenured professor.
In response, Badger, one of four trustees who did not cast a vote of no-confidence last month, accepted the resignation with regret.
"I am saddened by President Ammons' decision to resign, but it is his choice to do so," Badger said in a statement. "Given all that has transpired, it seems to be in the best interest of the University and I applaud him for putting FAMU ahead of his personal goals."
Champion died on a band charter bus in November after the university's renowned marching band performed at the annual Florida Classic football game in Orlando.
Thirteen band members have been charged in Champion's death. Of those, 11 face felony hazing charges and could face up to six years in prison. Two others were charged with misdemeanors.
"Our hearts and prayers still go out to the Champion family; we are unable to comment further due to the pending litigation surrounding this matter," the university's chief communications officer, Sharon Saunders, said in a statement in response to the suit.
While the hazing case has drawn national attention, some university system officials have been at least as troubled by other issues. A scathing letter sent to Badger by the state university system Board of Governors chairman, Dean Colson, alluded to several serious issues that have worried state officials. Among those were lower graduation rates, allegations of fraud having to do with summaries of an audit that hadn't actually been done, and a sexual assault of a minor at the university's research school. Then, as the hazing allegations came under the national spotlight, school officials learned that several members of the famous band weren't even students at the university.
The breadth of the problems require a major change, said university trustee Rufus Montgomery during a meeting of the board Wednesday, a meeting scheduled to talk about budget items before Ammons announced his resignation.
"This is not about hazing, this is about leadership or lack of leadership at FAMU," said Montgomery. "There have been over 30 serious issues over the past year that have come before this board ….This all came under the watch of the current president. For the last seven months we've danced around it week after week, problem after problem….
"We've got the FAMU students on trial this fall in the Champion case, we have no band this fall, we've got a drop in enrollment coming, I read the other day the Florida Senate's (considering) investigating the school," Montgomery continued. "I mean, come on, you all, we need to deal with this."
In June, the school's Board of Trustees gave Ammons a vote of no-confidence, with eight of 12 trustees saying they had lost faith in Ammons ability to lead.
"I realize that this must have been a very difficult decision for President Ammons and his family," said Colson. "As the president candidly and correctly noted in his letter, there are challenges remaining at FAMU that ‘must be met head on."
Ammons, who came to Florida A&M from North Carolina Central University, had some successes. He was credited with increased prestige for the university's pharmacy education program, which secured accreditation during his tenure. The university notes that under Ammons' leadership the school received its first "unqualified" audit in three years from the state, and that the school is about to start a new doctoral program in physical therapy.
Ammons is a Florida A&M graduate, with a B.S. in political science and an M.S. in public administration and a Ph.D. in government from Florida State. He also taught political science at FAMU.
[UPDATE] Tallahassee, Florida- July 11, 2012- 6pm
Dr. James Ammons has been defending his post ever since a Marching 100 drum major died from hazing ... Now, Dr. Ammons is resigning as FAMU's president.
He submitted his letter of resignation earlier today. Dr. Ammons has been defending himself ever since the hazing death of Marching 100 drum major Robert Champion.
In his resignation letter, Ammons wrote, "The Board of Trustees and the Board of Governors made it patently clear to me that I had to take charge and move forward immediately."
There were a lot of people who had been asking Dr. Ammons to move on for a while now. Many say he was partly responsible for the hazing death of Marching 100 Drum Major Robert Champion back in November.
However, Dr. Ammons has many people supporting him throughout these past turbulent months.
In his resignation letter he says there are new challenges that must be met head on. He says "when the next president experiences her or his transition in, she or he will very likely find additonal challenges, albeit not nearly to the extent of that which I faced at the outset, or those I am now facing."
Dr. Ammons was the tenth president of FAMU. This is his alma mater. He served for five years.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - July 11, 2012 - 1:50pm
Florida A&M President James Ammons has resigned the same day parents of a drum major who died after being hazed added the university to a wrongful death lawsuit.
Ammons resigned Wednesday in a letter to the university governing board.
Robert Champion died in November after being beaten by fellow band members during a hazing ritual aboard a bus parked outside an Orlando hotel following a football game against the school's archrival.
Eleven FAMU band members face felony hazing charges, while two others face misdemeanor counts for alleged roles in the hazing. They have pleaded not guilty.
Champion's death put a spotlight on hazing at the school and led to the suspension of the band until at least next year.
The lawsuit brought by Champion's parents claims FAMU officials didn't take enough action to stop hazing.
“I was just made aware of today’s announcement and have read President Ammons’ resignation letter. I realize that this must have been a very difficult decision for President Ammons and his family. As the President candidly and correctly noted in his letter, there are challenges remaining at FAMU that ‘must be met head on.’ The Florida Board of Governors is committed to continued assistance to the FAMU Board of Trustees in order to fully resolve these challenges and ensure FAMU’s future success,” says Dean Colson, Chair for the Florida Board of Governors.
Chairman Solomon Badger III Statement
"I am saddened by President Ammons' decision to resign, but it is his choice to do so. Given all that has transpired, it seems to be in the best interest of the University and I applaud him for putting FAMU ahead of his personal goals."
Dr. Solomon Badger III
Chair, FAMU Board of Trustees
University Statement Regarding the Champion Family Lawsuit
“We have known for quite some time that the family intended to file suit. Our hearts and prayers still go out to the Champion family. We are unable to comment further due to the pending litigation surrounding this matter.”
Sharon P. Saunders
Chief Communications Officer
Stay with WCTV for details.
FAMU Board Votes No Confidence
by Mike Vasilinda
Tallahassee, FL -- June 7, 2012 --
Florida A & M Universities Board of Trustee’s, by an eight to four vote, said they have no confidence in the School’s President. But, as Mike Vasilinda tells us, the vote is a message to the President that he could be fired soon if problems aren’t solved quickly.
100 non students on a state paid band trip, false audits, “sexual assaults of minors at the FAMU developmental research school,” and a drum major who died from hazing, all looked to trustees like a university without leadership.
“I am deeply troubled by what appears to be a serious lack of oversight and serious gaps in communication,” FAMU Trustee Belinda Reed Shannon said.
“Not knowing is, in fact, an indication of poor management,” Trustee Narayan Persaud said.
The vote was two to one against the President
“Eight yes votes, and 4 no votes.”
The vote means that the president gets to keep his job, but he’s been told, this is your last chance.
“I hear you loudly and clearly,” University president Dr. James Ammons said. “I understand that there are some measures that I have to take as president of this University to fix things, and I’m going to fix them.”
Reaction afterwards was mixed.
“I think if Dr. Ammons cannot make significant changes in the way that he leads this university, I think it will lead to his removal,” Trustee William Jennings said.
Trustees have their next face-to-face meeting in September. Any action before then is unlikely, unless new problems are discovered.
Tallahassee, FL -- June 7. 2012 --
The FAMU Board of Trustees say they're not confident in the university president's leadership.
Members expressed their concerns about Dr. James Ammons during today's board meeting.
The FAMU Board of Trustees voted no confidence in University President Dr. James Ammons. The majority of trustees say they feel Dr. Ammons may not have the leadership skills to guide FAMU through the aftermath of a drum major's hazing death and other issues.
While the no confidence vote was eight to four, Dr. Ammons still had plenty of people to back him.
The president of the FAMU Alumni Association, Tommy Mitchell, spoke at today's board of trustees meeting. He told Dr. Ammons that the association is his ally.
Mitchell says Ammons and the University needs support now than ever.
Mitchell held a press conference immediately after this afternoon's board meeting to rally support from alumni and fans.
STATEMENT BY REP. ALAN WILLIAMS CONCERNING FAMU PRESIDENT JAMES AMMONS
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- State Rep. Alan Williams (D-Tallahassee) issued the following statement concerning FAMU President James Ammons:
"As a state lawmaker and a graduate of Florida A&M University, I am very proud of my alma mater and recognize that tremendous challenges face the university during this era of reform.
"Today's vote of the FAMU Board of Trustees serves to recognize that there is a strong desire and willingness among university officials and leaders throughout Florida to bring more positive change to FAMU. I share that desire, but I also believe that President Ammons has demonstrated capability to lead the university, and he should be allowed to continue to lead the university, during this historic phase of development and progress at FAMU.
"I have full confidence in Dr. Ammons and the future of Florida A & M University."
UPDATE Tallahassee, FL -- June 7, 2012 --
FAMU Alumni Association just announced that there will be a rally immediately after the board of trustees meeting. He says the rally is in support of Dr. Ammons and his efforts, and support of the university.
Former FAMU Interim President Castelle Bryant spoke during the public comment portion of the board meeting. Dr. Bryant says she made a presentation to clear the record in response to an article in the campus newspaper. She did not go into details, but she left the information with board members and requested that they include it in minutes.
The FAMU BOT votes 8 to 4 "no-confidence" in Dr. Ammons. Ammons remains President of FAMU.
FAMU BOT is in recess about to vote on no-confidence vote on Dr. Ammons.
Trustee Pressure says how can they reclaim the dignity of the university when not knowing is the norm. Trustee Slaying says it's a tough decision but he is supporting the motion.
The motion was seconded by trustee Langston. They are allowing Ammons to comment.
Trustee Jennings made motion to vote on no confidence in Dr. Ammons.
Dr. Ammons says FAMU fell short of its goal for first time students by 91 students. He says the goal was 2,300, but 2,209 were enrolled.
Dr. Ammons says they continue to work on fundraising. He says they reach $3.3 million of the $5.5 million goal. Dr. Ammons says alumni giving was at 9 percent and he says they hope to get it up to 12 percent by next year. He says they expect a spike this upcoming year because of commemorative pens for the university's 125th anniversary.
Tallahassee, FL -- June 7, 2012 --
The FAMU Board of Trustees continues its two-day retreat this morning. University President Dr. James Ammons is reviewing the goals from 2011-2012. Goals include meeting accrediting standards, increase the number of distance education programs, increase doctoral students, and increase doctoral graduates.
Dr. Ammons will also go over goals for 2012-2013.
After the retreat in room 450 of the Al Lawson Center, the board will convene on the gymnasium floor for the trustees meeting at 11:30.