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Board of Trustees Begin Search for a New President
August 15, 2012


— Florida A&M University (FAMU) Board of Trustees (BOT) unanimously agreed to appoint Larry Robinson to serve as interim president until a permanent president is appointed. 

Robinson’s appointment must be confirmed by the Florida Board of Governors.

In outlining his plan as interim president, Robinson said that the foundation has been established for his work.

“As I assume this post, I do not have to start from scratch,” said Robinson.  “Over the past 125 years, the framework has been established and the future direction for the university is clearly articulated in our 2010-2020 strategic plan, which is appropriately titled FAMU 2020 Vision With Courage. Considering all that has happened, we continue to do remarkable things at FAMU. I would like to contribute this success to the dedication, commitment and perseverance of our students, faculty, staff, alumni and supporters near and far.” 

The FAMU BOT also outlined its new process for conducting the presidential search and appointed Trustees Karl White of Boston and Dr. Spurgeon McWilliams of Tallahassee as co-chairs of the search committee.  Other Board members appointed to the search committee include: Narayan Persaud, president of the Faculty Senate; Marissa West, president of the FAMU Student Government Association; Torey Alston of Fort Lauderdale; Belinda Reid-Shannon of Raleigh; and Marjorie Turnbull of Tallahassee.  Tommy Mitchell, president of the National Alumni Association, and the Honorable Elizabeth Webster, member of the Florida Board of Governors, were appointed to the committee.  Chairman Solomon Badger will serve as an ex-officio member.

Chairman Badger also appointed an advisory committee to the search committee which includes Trustee C. William Jennings of Orlando; Chairman of the Board of Governors Dean Colson; and Frederick S. Humphries, former president of FAMU. 

Badger welcomed Robinson as interim president and has asked the search committee to consider:

•    Developing a process that begins with soliciting input from the board, alumni, faculty, administrators, staff and students, as well as other university supporters that will result in the Leadership Statement;

•    Making a recommendation about securing a search firm;

•    Developing a timeline for the search process which includes the screening, interviewing and a short list of candidates for the board to interview; and

•    Developing a communication strategy for keeping the board and the public informed about the process.

“I would ask the committee to keep this process as transparent as possible, while also balancing the need to permit the process to work effectively,” said Badger.  “Please know that this Board and the University are committed to an open process that abides by the Public Meetings and Public Records laws.”

Robinson was appointed chief executive officer on July 16, 2012, and was to be considered for confirmation at the next BOT meeting. Robinson, who has served twice as university provost, has served in various leadership posts.  He was assistant secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); the vice president for research and a professor in the Environmental Sciences Institute (now School of the Environment) at FAMU; and director of the NOAA Environmental Cooperative Science Center (ECSC) headquartered at FAMU, which consists of a broad, multi-institutional consortium of predominantly minority-serving institutions.

Between 1984 and 1997, Robinson served as a research scientist and a group leader at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. His work there included detection and assessment of special nuclear materials and application of nuclear methods in nonproliferation, environmental science, forensic science and the assessment of high purity materials. From 1997 to 2003, Robinson directed FAMU’s Environmental Sciences Institute where he led efforts to establish bachelor and doctoral degree programs. In 2007, he became the first African American to serve as the science advisor to the United States Department of Agriculture’s Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service.

According to Badger, Robinson will not seek the permanent position as FAMU president and will earn a salary at a rate of $325,000 annually.

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