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FAMU Board Divided Over Contract for New President

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. ― Trustees who oversee Florida A&M University are divided over a contract for the school’s new president.

The FAMU board was scheduled Friday to approve a $425,000-a-year contract for Elmira Magnum. Magnum is currently vice president for budget and planning for Cornell University.

Several trustees raised questions about the proposed three-year contract and the perks included in it.

Magnum’s proposed base salary is nearly $84,000 higher than what FAMU paid James Ammons, who abruptly resigned in 2012 amid the fallout after the hazing death of drum major Robert Champion.

The contract calls for paying for Magnum’s relocation expenses, an annuity worth 15 percent of her salary and makes her eligible for an annual bonus equal to 10 percent of her base salary. It also includes payment of her membership fees in both a country club and a well-known exclusive club near the state Capitol building.

But other trustees voiced concerns that quibbling over the contract could delay when Magnum would start. She is supposed to start April 1. Her appointment still needs to be ratified by the Board of Governors, which oversees the entire state university system.

After more than an hour of debate, and one tie vote, the trustees agreed to rework the contract and to take a vote this week.

FAMU trustees voted earlier this month to hire Magnum as part of an effort to shake up an institution that has been beset by problems during the last decade. Magnum has no ties to the university and she is the first woman selected to the job permanently.

The choice of Mangum, however, was not unanimous, and followed an outpouring of support for interim president Larry Robinson. Robinson helped put in strict, new anti-hazing rules for the school, overhauled the Marching 100 band, and dealt with sanctions placed on the university by a regional accreditation organization. FAMU’s probation was lifted in December.

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