Prominent FAMU Trustee Resigns from University Board

Richard Dent III, the Florida A & M University (FAMU) graduate who has enjoyed a highly successful career as a retail executive, resigned earlier this month from his post as vice chair of the FAMU Board of Trustees.

Dent, a likely prospect for chairman of the 13-member board had he stayed on, advised the chairman of the Board of Governors of the University System of Florida of his decision via e-mail late last Friday night, saying the demands of a new venture he is heading “will prevent me from giving the time and energy that FAMU needs from each and every Board of Trustees member.”

FAMU did not announce the popular alum’s departure nor did the Board of Governors, the body that appointed Dent to the FAMU Board of Trustees. Dent, who earned his undergraduate and master’s in business administration degree at FAMU, was recently appointed chief executive officer and president of Astor and Black Custom Clothiers, a new custom clothing company that will be based in Florida.

Dent took the new post after working more than a decade for Limitedbrands as an executive for its Victoria’s Secret ladies intimate apparel operations.

Dent could not be reached for comment. Rosalind Fuse-Hall, FAMU’s chief of staff and liaison for the Board of Trustees, said any trustees comment regarding Dent’s departure would come from the Board of Governors, the body that appointed Dent.

Fuse-Hall said the Board of Governors has a nominating committee responsible for handing vacancies, adding “The vacancy has to be noticed,” as in publicly posted before being filled.

Late this week, FAMU Board of Trustees chairman Solomon L. Badger issued a brief statement citing Dent as “a tremendous asset” to the FAMU board of trustees and the university as a whole. “He brought a high level of intelligence, creativity and enthusiasm during his tenure as a member of the board,” Ammons says.

Dent, who had been appointed in 2008 to complete a partial term, was recently appointed to a five-year term. He was the chair of the Budget and Finance Committee and chair of an ad hoc committee on Student Housing and Athletic Facilities that completed its work in January, according to the university.

Dent’s departure came at a time when the FAMU Board of Trustees and the FAMU president have been aggressively trying to handle the fallout—internally and externally—from the hazing death last fall of FAMU band member Robert Champion, a 26-year-old drum major.

A subsequent autopsy determined Champion’s death a homicide, asserting he died from bodily injuries suffered as he was beaten by some fellow band members on a bus after a fall intercollegiate football game in Orlando, Fla.

The university has since suspended its band, suspended all club recruitment for the remainder of the school years, and appointed a blue ribbon panel to  give it advice on how to address hazing in a way that would help the school root it out of university culture. President Ammons also suspended the school’s legendary band director and four band members, then reversed his decision at the request of law enforcement who asked the school to halt all punitive actions pending the outcome of investigations into the band member’s death.

The Board of Trustees, to demonstrate it is engaged in oversight, began having weekly meetings in December with a focus on the post-hazing fallout, hired a New York public relations firm in December for quick advice on damage control and publicly reprimanded president Ammons over his initial handling of the hazing death fallout.

The university, which is marking a major anniversary this year and trying to launch a new capital campaign, is still waiting on the outcome of a criminal investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) into the hazing incident. Hazing is a criminal offense in Florida, and charges are expected to stem from that investigation.