FAMU’s ‘native son’ James Ammons, chosen as 10th president
TALLAHASSEE -- James H. Ammons was named the 10th president of Florida A&M University Thursday afternoon by its Board of Trustees. Ammons, chancellor of North Carolina Central University (Durham), was one of three finalists for the position.
“It was a very close vote,” said Challis Lowe, chairwoman of the FAMU Board of Trustees, “which is indicative of the quality of candidates who were brought before us today.”
The announcement comes after more than a yearlong search for a permanent FAMU president.
FAMU Trustee Rev. Dr. R.B. Holmes said, “Ammons would bring the kind of energy, vision and motivation necessary to lead FAMU forward. He will build upon the great legacy of past presidents to ensure that our best days are not behind us, but are before us.”
Ammons was in Tallahassee Thursday along with the other two candidates – Thelma Thompson, president of the University of Maryland at Eastern Shore; and Howard C. Johnson, special assistant to the chancellor — for the final interview with the full board.
“As a graduate, I know first-hand the value of FAMU and its mighty contributions. . . its rich history and legacy that spans almost 120 years,” Ammons said in his opening statements. “The legacy of my family and FAMU are forever linked . . .. Many of my junior high, high school teachers, guidance counselors — those whom I respected the most — are all graduates of FAMU.”
A native of Winter Haven, Fla., Ammons also told the board and a packed audience that it was after a trip to the Orange Blossom Classic, where he saw FAMU’s Marching‘100’ perform, that “he knew “FAMU was the place for me.
He became a FAMU Rattler in 1970, graduating in 1974 with a bachelor’s degree in political science. After being awarded the Minority Graduate Fellowship from the American Political Science Association, he then earned a master’s degree in public administration in1975, and a doctorate in government in 1977, both from Florida State University (Tallahassee, Fla.)
Ammons began his teaching career in 1977 as an assistant professor at the University of Central Florida; he served in this position until 1983. He returned to FAMU in 1983 as an associate professor of political science, and in 1984, he became assistant vice president for Academic Affairs. In 1989, Ammons was named associate vice president for Academic Affairs and also served as director of the Title III Program. He assumed the rank of a full professor in 1993, and was appointed provost and vice president for Academic Affairs on October 1, 1995, a position he held until becoming President of NCCU in 2001.
The board’s decision will be ratified at its regularly scheduled March 8 meeting in Tallahassee. Contract negotiations are expected to begin in the coming weeks.