Deciding His Own Fate
Handing in his resignation, FAMU president Fred Gainous chooses to forgo trustee vote By Marlon A. Walker
Florida A&M University President Fred Gainous dealt the final blow to his career at the 117-year-old university, choosing to forego a vote by the school’s governing board and hand in his resignation.
The resignation came six weeks after FAMU’s board of trustees called for Gainous’ resignation, but changed their minds by adding a clause allowing him to keep the position past Jan. 1, 2005, if he could win a full vote of confidence from the board at its December meeting (see Black Issues, Oct. 21).
Gainous, citing a slew of reasons, including the need for healing, said the resignation was done to ensure a smooth transition process for the university.
Gainous, a FAMU alumnus, said the decision was made “so that Florida A&M can move forward in selecting a president compatible with both the board and the university.”
He said the university community — including alumni and residents of the surrounding neighborhoods — should not be divided like it currently is. “If this will help, I think it ought to be done,” he said.
Gainous’ term will end on Jan. 1, and the board plans to be ready with an interim by then. It’s an improvement over the last time a president announced that he would end his tenure with the university. In February 2001, then-President Dr. Frederick Humphries announced his resignation, effective July 1 of that year. He stayed on as president until Jan. 1, 2002, because an interim had not been chosen.
After an interim is chosen, Gainous will become a tenured professor at the university’s College of Engineering Sciences, Technology and Agriculture. He’s looking for the board to approve funding for a Center of Agricultural Policy, which he would run after he returns from taking his annual leave.
Gainous’ salary will also be affected in the administrative shakeup. In his first year after his tenure as president ends, he will receive 10 percent less than the $275,000 he made as president, or $247,500. After Jan.1, 2006, he receives a 10 percent cut in his salary at that time to 222,750.
Virgil Miller, the school’s student body president and a FAMU trustee, said committees have been meeting to ensure if a transition were needed, it would be the best one for the university. He said Gainous has been in on the process and that his announcement was made with enough notice to leave the school in a good position.
“We as a committee have been meeting… and he’s been there every step of the way,” said the second-year graduate public health student from West Palm Beach, Fla.
In September, the board voted to fire Gainous after alumni and members of the board aired their grievances about the poor standard of service they felt Gainous was giving the university. The vote made it so that Gainous was given several months to work toward a unanimous approval by the board at its December meeting. A unanimous vote had been deemed impossible by many who felt that board chairman Jim Corbin would never vote to keep Gainous on as president. A week after the vote, Gainous said no one would force him to leave FAMU. He said his decision to step aside was made knowing the university will continue to move toward new heights.
The application deadline for interim president was Nov. 30. The person who is selected will not be able to run for president. Florida Chancellor Debra Austin’s office is collecting the résumés and student body president Miller said he believes an interim president will be in place by January.
“We’re going to move as expeditiously as possible but not move too fast to make sure we get the best candidate possible,” Miller said.
Students such as Alexandra Judkins are still waiting to see what affect, if any, this decision will have on the university. The 20-year-old business administration student said she believes more needs to be done to build a better relationship between the students and the administration.
“Administrators don’t usually interact with students,” she said. “(A better relationship) would allow students to see what administrators are doing to improve the school so we’re not missing each others’ big picture.”
© Copyright 2005 by DiverseEducation.com