The New FAMU Trustees
At least one state official describes the new Florida A&M Board of Trustees as “perhaps the strongest the governor has pulled together.” The new trustees, who were named June 15, range in age from senior citizens to a college student. They are Black, Latino and White; Republicans and Democrats. They range in expertise from senior corporate executives and retired military personnel to education administrators and spiritual leaders.
Nominations for these coveted board slots came from FAMU faculty, staff, students, President Frederick Humphries, the alumni association, education circles, the business community and state lawmakers, among others. Ultimately, it was Gov. Jeb Bush, under the counsel of advisers, who selected this team of 13 individuals in whose hands the future of FAMU now rests. Already, some onlookers are concerned that the group may be too heavily influenced by the FAMU old guard. Both the chairman and vice chairwoman are FAMU alumni, as are three other trustees. Other observers see this as a good thing, noting that with the university facing so much change all at once, it is as important for the board to maintain some continuity with FAMU’s past as a commitment to its future.
Only time will tell how this board will fare. Trustees will serve terms ranging from one to four years. For now, they are still getting to know one another and coming to grips with the awesome and historic responsibility they have assumed.
Lt. Gen. (RET.) Julius W. Becton Jr.
This veteran of the Korean and Vietnam wars also is the former president of Prairie View A&M University and, most recently, the former superintendent of public schools for the District of Columbia. Becton is an alumnus of Prairie View A&M and earned his master’s degree at the University of Maryland. Now a resident of Springfield, Va., he is one of four trustees who will serve on the board from out of state.
Dr. Regina Benjamin
This physician and alumna of Xavier University has made a career out of aiding the disenfranchised. Currently the associate dean for rural health at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, Benjamin is the recipient of several national and international humanitarian awards, including the Nelson Mandela Award for Health and Human Rights, which she received in 1998. A graduate of the medical school at the University of Alabama-Birmingham and the business school at Tulane University, she lives in Spanish, Fort, Ala.
Dr. Castell Bryant
A veteran educator who likes to “keep things simple,” Bryant has already shown herself to be an independent thinker whose main concern appears to be the interests of FAMU students. An alumna and former employee of the university, she earned her doctorate at Nova Southeastern University. Bryant is currently the president of Miami-Dade Community College’s North Campus. She lives in Miami.
This FAMU alumnus is the Commonwealth of Virginia’s secretary of education. The former army colonel began his higher education career as the vice president for student affairs at Virginia Union University. Bryant received his M.E. from Howard University and today is a resident of Fairfax Station, Va.
Collins is the new chairman of the FAMU trustee board. His was the only nomination made for the job during the group’s initial board meeting. The savvy lobbyist is a former student body president of FAMU who knows his way around political circles in Tallahassee and Washington, cities where the consulting firm he owns does business. Collins has ambitious plans for the university and the trustee board, and is among those who believe they can and will name a president before the end of the year. Though most of his time in recent years has been spent in Washington, he maintains a residence in Tallahassee.
Hanna is the managing shareholder of Bryant, Miller and Olive, P.A., a law firm in Tallahassee. He has been involved in higher education stewardship for more than a decade, having started as an appointee of former Gov. Lawton Chiles to the state’s Community College Board. A graduate of the University of Florida, Hanna earned his J.D. at Florida State University and currently lives in Tallahassee.
Dr. Robert Holmes
Holmes has been a pillar of the Tallahassee spiritual community for 15 years. The pastor of Bethel Baptist Church is heavily involved in education issues in the state and is a former director of the University of North Florida’s Downtown Campus. Holmes has a bachelor’s from Malone College in Ohio, a master’s from the Methodist Theological Seminary and a doctorate from Virginia Union. He lives in Tallahassee.
Considered by many to be one of the most powerful women in American business, Hughes is expected to be one of the board’s big guns when it comes to fund raising and institutional management. The founder and chairwoman of Radio One, the nation’s largest African American owned radio network, comes from a family with a long history of commitment to education. Her grandfather, Lawrence Jones, was the founder of the Piney Woods School in Jackson, Miss. Hughes continues to own the school, which is now one of the nation’s only remaining historically Black boarding schools. She is a graduate of the University of Nebraska, Creighton University and the Harvard Graduate School of Business. Hughes currently lives in Baltimore.
This seasoned fund-raiser already has played a significant role in development efforts for the FAMU law school building fund and the university’s scholarship fund. The executive director of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority also has deep family ties to FAMU. Jennings, his mother and three aunts are all FAMU alumni. He lives in Orlando.
Another one of the board’s big guns, Lacher is president of BellSouth. The alumnus of Belmont Abbey College earned his M.B.A. from Fairleigh Dickinson University and is a former Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan Fellow. Lacher has a long track record of service on higher education boards. His credits include having served as chairman of the United Negro College Fund in Miami-Dade County and as a member of the Florida Governors Commission on Education. He lives in Miami.
Born in Havana, Cuba, Prado came to the United States to flee communism. In recent years, the entrepreneur and community leader has served on several public and private boards. A graduate of Florida International University and the University of Miami, Prado is a registered nurse who lives in Hollywood, Fla.
White is the new vice chairwoman of the board. This FAMU alumna has spent the past 37 years working in education at the K-12 and community college levels. As president of the Educational Advancement Foundation board of directors she has helped award more than $100,000 in scholarships to students in the state. White earned her master’s from Columbia University and is a resident of Jacksonville, Fla.
— Compiled by Cheryl D. Fields
© Copyright 2005 by DiverseEducation.com