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Feb./March 2011
Vol. 1 No. 5

FAMU Restructuring and Reinvesting to be Best in Class

President James H. Ammons

Throughout the United States, universities are looking at their academic programs, reviewing  administrative and academic structures, as well as its business processes for addressing the  diminishing resources from state allocations.

Florida A&M University is also undergoing a restructuring and reinvestment process that will result in what university officials hope is a revitalized FAMU – one that better meets the needs of its students
and faculty, exercises fiscal agility while leveraging technology, and helps the university reach its long-term goal of being a research intensive university that addresses state needs.

Spurred by discussions that have occurred over the last three years, the current focus on restructuring and reinvesting, state budget, may also lead to a reduction in the university’s workforce, streamlining
business processes, and reorganizing some academic units.

“Beginning with our comprehensive review of our University related to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) review, the campus has been engaged in various conversations regarding how we can work more efficiently and be more effective,” said FAMU President James H. Ammons.

Ammons has appointed Teresa Hardee, CFO and vice president for Administrative and Financial Services, to lead the core team called the President’s Restructuring and Reinvestment Committee (PRRC). The PRRC has solicited campus and stake-restructuring and the reinvesting of FAMU’s
strengths. Other members of the PRRC team include Provost Cynthia Hughes Harris; Rosalind Fuse-Hall, chief of staff; William Hudson Jr., interim vice president for Student Affairs; Sharon
Saunders, chief communications officer; and Kwadwo Owusu-Aduemiri, director of Institutional Research. The group will offer recommendations to President Ammons.

Ammons updated the FAMU Board of Trustees (BOT) at its Feb. 10 meeting and will provide a final report at the April 7, BOT meeting. The President also presented a preliminary overview in December 2010. Since that time, the PRRC team has been collecting data, sharing information and conducting focus groups and forums to gain input regarding restructuring/reinvesting from various stakeholders.

A restructuring website is accessible from the University’s home page. Ideas regarding restructuring are being posted on the site from faculty, staff, students and other stakeholders. The results from a survey shared with the campus and other constituents is available on the website.

 

 Faculty Focus Group
For more than a year, a 35-member committee, appointed by Provost Hughes Harris, has examined the restructuring of the academic division. The committee, headed by Rodner Wright, dean of the
School of Architecture, presented its preliminary findings to the campus on Friday, January 7 during a focus group session.

“One lesson we’ve learned is that we cannot be the best in everything,” said Ammons. “This restructuring exercise permits the university to focus on its strengths, review administrative and academic programs and reduce our expenditures.”

Other information being considered is the FAMU work plan submitted to the Board of Governors (BOG) that outlines FAMU’s priorities. These priorities align with BOG’s strategic priorities and the New Florida Initiative was launched in 2010 in partnership with Florida’s former governor and the legislature. New Florida is a multi-year endeavour to ensure that Florida’s knowledge and innovation economy is
sustained by high-technology, high-wage jobs in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The University has developed five areas through the Board of Governors work plan that have become the basis for the University’s Legislative Budget Request:
  • Enhance visibility and productivity as a doctoral/research university;
  • Increase university activities to address health care disparities among underserved populations;
  • Increase the persistence/retention rates of undergraduate students, leading to increased
  • graduation rates;
  • Initiate on-line academic programs; and
  • Increase international opportunities for faculty and students
“Aligned and synced, these priorities provide a good road map for FAMU to achieve its vision and mission,” said Ammons.

Since 2007, FAMU has lost more than $35 million from the university’s budget as a result of budget cuts. To account for the reduction, FAMU has eliminated vacant positions, reduced energy costs and covered the cost for several programs through stimulus dollars and Title III funding. Over the course of the past three budget reductions, the University held harmless several academic programs to include the: College of Engineering, College of Law, College of Pharmacy, and academic programs that were undergoing accreditation visits.

“What makes the restructuring critical,” noted Ammons, “is every state agency has been asked to develop a plan to reduce its budget by 15 percent effective July 1, 2011.”

FAMU’s largest expenditures (78 percent) are in the area of salaries.

“While stimulus funds permitted us to continue employing many people, after stimulus, there will be a significant and immediate reduction in our workforce,” said Ammons.

As the university restructures, Ammons said that he wants to improve business operations and administrative support areas such as financial aid, payroll and technology. In addition, he wants to reinvest money in areas where improvements and upgrades are needed.

“Although we have to act quickly to catapult the University into a lean, operating mode, restructuring is an iterative process,” said Ammons. “It requires that we engage in on-going communications with the University family. I am committed to working with the BOT and the campus community to restructure the University and invest in the future of FAMU.”

To track the restructuring process, log onto www.famu. edu. To submit restructuring ideas, email restructuring@ famu.edu.

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