TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, Wednesday, July 2, 2008, marks the completion of James H. Ammons’ first year as president of Florida A&M University (FAMU).
Perhaps the most noteworthy of all news during President Ammons’ first year came on June 26, 2008. The Southern Association for Colleges and Schools (SACS) voted to continue FAMU’s accreditation, removed the university from probation and requested no further reports.
The hard work paid off but the road to recovery consisted of challenges and triumphs.
Lets rewind to July 2007.
Facing fiscal management issues as well as the university being placed on probation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), Ammons asked for 500 days. He said he needed 500 days to resolve these matters and pledged to strengthen existing relationships with key stakeholders while forging new relationships to restore the public’s trust in FAMU.
No. 1 on his agenda was establishing his leadership team. He appointed Cynthia Hughes Harris, former dean of the School of Allied Health Sciences, as provost and vice president for Academic Affairs; both Teresa Hardee and Robert Seniors, former interim vice president for fiscal and administrative affairs and former vice president for enterprise information technology, respectively, were appointed permanently to their posts. Carla Willis, former senior level development professional from the University of Toledo, was appointed vice president for university development and executive director of the FAMU Foundation.
The new additions to the leadership team completed the already established team of Rosalind Fuse-Hall, chief of staff; Roland Gaines, vice president for Student Affairs; Charles O’Duor, vice president for Audit and Compliance; Sharon Saunders, chief communication officer and executive assistant to the president; Patricia Woodard, executive assistant to the president; Tola Thompson, director of Governmental Relations; and Avery Mc Knight, general counsel.
With a competent and supportive administrative team backing him, Ammons set out to correct the fiscal problems at FAMU. Hardee assembled a qualified team of individuals that worked a total of 10,000 hours, sometimes working 10 and 12-hour days to restore fiscal integrity at the university.
As a result, timely responses were submitted to SACS. The Florida Board of Governors Task Force on FAMU Finance and Operational Control Issues determined that 92 percent of the corrective actions put into place have been evaluated as operating satisfactorily.
The State of Florida Auditor General reported that FAMU had received its first clean audit in three years. Yet, SACS extended FAMU’s probation for another six months.
January, 2008 marked the launching of the Oracle’s PeopleSoft Enterprise Human Capital Management (HCM) 8.9. This initiative resulted in FAMU being able to process its own payroll.
Assured that FAMU’s financial situation was in safe hands, Ammons and Provost Hughes Harris worked to meet the accreditation challenges six programs faced. The end results were each of the programs were reaccredited by their accrediting body.
In addition, the National Science Foundation noticed FAMU’s research efforts. The foundation named FAMU No. 2, among 200 other institutions, in growth of global scientific publishing. FAMU was also one of eight universities recognized for growth in U.S. scientific publications, showing a 116-percent increase since the late 1990s.
Funds were included within the fixed Capital Outlay Budget to accommodate the construction of the Pharmacy Building, Phase II ($2 million) and for the rural diversity outreach initiatives at a property in Crestview ($2.5 million), sponsored by Senator Durell Peaden, Jr., District 2. Public Education Capital Outlay (PECO) projects funded included the University Commons, the electrical infrastructure, the Tucker Hall renovations and the construction of the teaching gym.
Ammons also worked on building a solid relationship with the faculty, staff, students, the community, alumni and stakeholders.
Ammons and first lady Judy Ammons kicked off the holiday season with their First
Annual Toy Drive. CD players and bicycles were distributed to more than 750 children ranging from ages five to 18. The program benefited children at the FAMU Developmental and Research School and three local community centers — Jack McLean, Jake Gaither and Walker-Ford. The Ammons also delivered bicycles (three for boys and three for girls) to each community center. Collecting the CD players and bicycles were a university collaboration.
Other community collaborations included Ammons donating, in conjunction with the City of Tallahassee, 50 computers to Nims Middle School through the Digital Harmony initiative. Digital Harmony is a collaborative partnership pilot program designed to expand Internet access to underserved parts of our community.
Earlier this year, Ammons formed an alliance with campus health care experts, researchers, and local, state and national organizations to address the Infant Mortality Crisis in Leon County.
While building relationships and partnerships, Ammons took time out to trek across the state of Florida raising funds, recruiting and promoting the university. He sponsored the FAMU Up Close and Personal Tour that generated $1,964,000 in scholarships offers.
So just a year ago today, Wednesday, July 2, fiscal problems challenged the existence of FAMU. FAMU, however, has as its tenth president, James H. Ammons, a man who never backs down from a challenge.
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Posted: July 2, 2008