The interim head of Florida A&M University told hundreds of faculty and staff Monday that he was stunned to learn in a telephone call last week that the school was being put on probation, largely for chronic financial mismanagement.
“My first response was shock,” said Larry Robinson, the university’s chief executive officer who is running the school’s day-to-day operations until James Ammons becomes president Monday.
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools gave FAMU six months to clean up its troubled financial situation. And while the probationary period could last up to two years, the university is at risk of losing its SACS membership and thereby accreditation.
Robinson told the throng of faculty and staff jammed into the auditorium of the university’s pharmacy college that they must work together to help the school resolve issues that threaten its accreditation.
“I’ve never seen this many of us in one place,” Robinson said. “It tells me you know how serious this matter is and you’re ready to work. This is the time Famuans, the Rattlers, have to come together.”
Chuck Hobbs, a local attorney who received a master’s degree at FAMU, conceded that problems have escalated in recent years, but predicted Ammons would work “indefatigably” to get things back on track.
“The wheels have fallen off and it’s going to take Dr. Ammons and a commitment … from everybody involved to make sure we pitch in together rather than falling apart,” Hobbs said. “You can tell everybody’s concerned about the next step.”
Robinson also said the university has yet to receive formal notification from SACS, which was created in 1895 and accredits roughly 800 colleges and universities in 11 southern states and some in Latin America.
“We’re waiting on the specific language,” he said.
However, he told the audience that the university believes it has resolved 22 of the 35 critical findings in an auditor general’s review earlier this year.
Because of the overflow crowd, Robinson went to a smaller auditorium to address more faculty and had an evening meeting scheduled with some of the students attending summer school.
“Any thought about us not being here is totally ridiculous,” he said. “(But) no one is taking this lightly.”
– Associated Press
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