Interim FAMU President Says He Wants Job for Good
The man filling in as interim president of Florida A&M University says he wants the job for good, despite having signed on to do it only until a permanent replacement could be found.
Dr. Henry Lewis III began serving his term Jan. 1. He was hired in December with the stipulation that he could not be hired for the permanent position.
“Thirty-one days have indicated to me I can do this job, and yes, I want to do this job,” Lewis says.
Lewis also says he wants to make it clear that he’s not asking the trustees to revoke their position. He’s just stating his interest. But many of the trustees said his announcement does not help the search under way for a new university president.
“It is inappropriate, unprofessional and just short of inciting chaos,” says trustee Castell Bryant. “It creates a cloud that places the integrity of the board on the line. I’m disappointed, yet not surprised.”
At least five of the 13 trustees also have said they want the board to stick to its decision, arguing that the board’s credibility is at stake.
No trustee has criticized Lewis’ first month as interim president. His successes, including improving customer service in campus offices and prompt financial aid checks to students, have resulted in a grass-roots effort to make him a presidential candidate.
Student government leaders gathered more than 1,500 signatures last month on a student petition urging the board to change its mind.
Earlier last month, Lewis said he had been bombarded with inquiries from faculty, alumni, parents and students about whether he was interested in being the permanent university president.
“Go for it … that’s what my gut tells me,” Lewis says.
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