In the wake of the marching band scandal, James Ammons declared he would step down as president of Florida A&M in October. The school’s governing board did not want to wait until then, so it reached a deal to have Ammons step down immediately.
With a bonus of $98,000 in tow, Ammons agreed to expedite his resignation from October 11 to today. At the same time, FAMU elevated its provost, Dr. Larry Robinson, to interim president. He will serve the role at least until the school’s board meets in August.
But there is indecision on whether Robinson will take over the post on a permanent basis.
Student board member Marissa West called for Robinson’s appointment saying the university needs some stability: “I think that we’ve seen the negative effects of letting things linger and not being decisive and not having solutions.”
But Robinson’s appointment may also be temporary. In the run up to the board’s Monday meeting other suggestions to fill the interim position were tossed out, most which aren’t affiliated with FAMU. Board member Rufus Montgomery says while he has no objections to Robinson filling the post, he wants the door to stay open for other candidate to emerge.
Montgomery said, “If there are other people interested in this (position) . . . I , FAMUmean, since I’ve been on the board, we haven’t made a quick decision about anything. We couldn’t even make a decision when someone was killed.”
Ammons in the latest person to resign in the wake of the hazing death of band drum major Robert Champion. Former band Director Julian White stepped down earlier in the year. But the resignations may not end there. University Board member Torey Alson says more people need to go.
“Everyone wants stability. But I also believe that there have to be major reforms and changes at the university based on all these things we’ve been talking about. There are still major issues and probably some people in the wrong places and wrong seats that I think has to be dealt with immediately.”
As interim president, Robinson’s primary job is to facilitate the clean-up process. He came back to FAMU last year after serving briefly in the Obama Administration. Shortly after the board’s meeting Robinson said, “We have some things we need to work on and we’re going to work on those. I see it as an opportunity for the university to move forward on a number of fronts and that’s what I’m going to be looking to do.”
Meanwhile, Ammons is now on sabbatical until October, at which time he will become a tenured faculty member. In the five years he was at the helm of FAMU, the school had string of clean audits and achieved full accreditation of its College of Law. But a hazing scandal within the school’s band program and other issues arising in the last several months marred that record.