FAMU Announces Investigation, Appoints Interim VP for University Advancement

May 15, 2024
EVP/COO Donald Palm speaks during the 2024 MLK Jr. Convocation.
FAMU Announces Investigation, Appoints Interim VP for University Advancement

EVP/COO Donald Palm speaks during the 2024 MLK Jr. Convocation.

Florida A&M University’s (FAMU) Board of Trustees (BOT) voted Wednesday to conduct an independent investigation into the handling of the Gregory Gerami gift.

The vote during a Zoom meeting was held hours after Shawnta Friday-Stroud, Ph.D., vice president for University Advancement and executive director of the FAMU Foundation, resigned to return full-time to her role as School of Business and Industry (SBI) dean.

In announcing the news to the University of Advancement staff, President Larry Robinson, Ph.D., said during this transition period, Executive Vice President/Chief Operating Officer (COO) Donald Palm, Ph.D., will step in to serve as the interim vice president for Advancement.

“Donald brings with him a wealth of experience and a dedication to our institution’s mission. I am confident that he will capably fulfill this role,” Robinson said.

Since August 2023, Palm has served as EVP/COO. In that role, he is charged with the guiding strategy for vice presidents and other senior administrators to improve outcomes on key performance indicators and achieve operational excellence throughout the University.

A Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, native, Palm completed a doctorate in pharmacology at Penn State University. Palm served as vice president/provost at Virginia State University before returning to FAMU, where until 2016, he was associate provost for Undergraduate Studies and a tenured professor in the FAMU College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Institute of Public Health.

While Palm serves in the interim University Advancement role, FAMU is in the “process of working with the Association of Governing Boards (AGB) to identify a longer-term interim vice president for Advancement, who will help steer us forward as we prepare for a national search to fill this important position,” Robinson said. “I am committed to ensuring a smooth transition and maintaining the momentum of our advancement efforts during this period.”

A national search in 2023 failed to produce a replacement for Friday-Stroud, who has previously expressed her desire to return to SBI full-time.

During the BOT meeting, Trustee Belvin Perry praised Friday-Stroud for her good years in the Foundation and her efforts at “producing record numbers in giving.”

“Nobody has raised the kind of money she has,” Perry said. “I just want to thank her as we move forward for the outstanding job she has done.”

Since July 1, 2020, Friday-Stroud and her fundraising team have raised $75.3 million in cash and $10.7 million in pledges.

Chair Kristin Harper also praised Friday-Stroud for her contributions.

In response to a question from Trustee Loryn May, the Student Government Association president, Robinson was emphatic.

“FAMU’s financial standing is strong,” said Robinson, citing a recent clean audit from the state. He also mentioned a $225,000 gift from Shell received Wednesday. “People out there still have tremendous confidence in you, our students,” Robinson said.