November 23, 2011
Former Attorney General Bob Butterworth, Quincy Police Chief Walt McNeil to Co-Chair Proceedings, Review Bands' "Culture, Traditions" & Related Issues
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Florida A&M University (FAMU) President James H. Ammons, today announced the appointment of members to a special, independent "Task Force" to review issues related to the death of Marching "100" band member Robert Champion. The group will be co-chaired by former Florida Attorney General Robert "Bob" Butterworth and Chief Walt McNeil, of the Quincy (Florida) Police Department.
"I am grateful that General Butterworth and Chief McNeil have agreed to serve this important role during a great hour of need for our university community," said Ammons. "Their integrity and independence will guide this process to find the truth and to recommend any appropriate disciplinary action, policies and procedures to put FAMU on a stronger path to its future."
Ammons praised the deep experience and stellar track record of Butterworth and McNeil as "essential to a meaningful, credible and thorough review" that will lead a process the university will rely upon "to get the truth and to take any appropriate action."
Butterworth, a legendary Florida statesman and political leader, served four terms as attorney general of Florida and also as secretary of the Department of Children and Families. Earlier in his career, he was a prosecutor, judge, sheriff of Broward County and reliable "troubleshooter" when governors needed a trusted reformer to step into a job.
McNeil, former chief of the Tallahassee Police Department, also served as Florida's secretary of Department of Corrections and secretary of the Department of Juvenile Justice. He was just named honorary president last week of the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
In addition to co-chairs Butterworth and McNeil, Ammons announced six additional members who have agreed to serve on the Task Force: Joe Oglesby, a Pulitzer Prize-winning former editorial page editor of The Miami Herald and a FAMU graduate; Derek Daniel, former executive director of the Florida Commission on Human Relations; and, John Charles Thomas, director of Communications and Political Initiatives for the Florida League of Cities, who also is former chairman of Leadership Florida and a former legislative director and director of cabinet affairs for late Gov. Lawton Chiles; Freddie Groomes-McLendon, former executive assistant to the president at Florida State University; former Sen. Alfred "Al" Lawson, who is a FAMU graduate and the longest-serving member of the Florida Legislature; and Tallahassee Atty. Daryl Parks, president of the National Bar Association and a former member of the FAMU Board of Trustees who served as chair of the Student Relations Committee. Parks also served as Student Government Association (SGA) president at FAMU.
Ammons pledged that the Task Force would be completely independent and supported by the university in its work. It is authorized to review any related documents, meet with and question any students and staff - and to make recommendations for any appropriate follow-up policies and actions by the university president.
"In this difficult time for the Champion family and for our FAMU family, we are committed to making right anything that may be wrong within any element of our university community, " said Ammons. "The important work of this Task Force will be applied to creating a better, safer and more unified FAMU."
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