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FAMU Deploys Independent Investigation into Donation, Announces Interim VP for University Advancement

Dr. Donald PalmDr. Donald PalmThe Florida A&M University Board of Trustees voted during a May 15 meeting to conduct an independent investigation into the handling of a $237.75 million gift. 

FAMU received the gift — a donation to support of student success initiatives and athletics — from the Issac Batterson 7th Family Trust and Chief Executive Officer Gregory Gerami, a Texas hemp farmer and the founder of Batterson Farms Corp. But the university paused moving forward after board members, alumni and others expressed reservations about the May 4 donation, which drew national attention as one of the largest ever for one of the country’s historically Black colleges and universities.

FAMU President Dr. Larry Robinson also announced the resignation of Dr. Shawnta Friday-Stroud, during the recent board meeting.

Friday-Stroud served as vice president for university advancement and executive director of the FAMU Foundation. She resigned to return full-time to her other role as dean of the School of Business and Industry. Executive Vice President/Chief Operating Officer Dr. Donald Palm is expected to step in to serve as the interim vice president for university advancement.

FAMU trustee Belvin Perry praised Friday-Stroud, who presided over record numbers in giving but previously expressed her desire to return to the School of Business and Industry full-time. The university reported that Friday-Stroud and her fundraising team have raised $75.3 million in cash and $10.7 million in pledges since July 1, 2020.

“Nobody has raised the kind of money she has,” said Perry. “I just want to thank her as we move forward for the outstanding job she has done.”

Friday-Stroud’s interim replacement served as vice president/provost at Virginia State University before returning to FAMU, where until 2016, he was associate provost for undergraduate studies and a tenured professor in the FAMU College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Institute of Public Health.

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