By Rosaland Tyler
New Journal and Guide
A new issue has surfaced at Florida A&M University although the university aimed to turn the page after closing the hazing death scandal.
This time, there is a feud between FAMU President Elmira Mangum and Board Chair Rufus Montgomery. In fact, it has tumbled onto the front pages. One recent photo showed a prominent group of elected officials asking the board chair to step down. A few days later, an editorial in the Orlando Sentinel said.
“Alas, the more things change, the more things stay the same … FAMU’s discord isn’t an alumni problem. It’s Florida’s problem.”
The public feud seems to stem from a personality clash. Letters from the president and the board chair point the finger of blame at each other. After Mangum’s first evaluation, the board chair complained about a lack of communication, fundraising and a decision to transfer the budget of the joint FAMU-Florida State College of Engineering, worth millions, to FSU, according to news reports.
In any event, their ongoing interactions have garnered attention. For example, Mangum told Montgomery as the two clashed in a June meeting. “You asked me to move the board meeting, I said okay. We never move the board meeting for a president,” he said.
USA Today said, their ongoing personality clash is “causing prominent FAMU alumni to choose sides.
“The tensions between FAMU President Elmira Mangum – who has been on the job just over a year – and trustees’ Chairman Rufus Montgomery escalated … Five elected officials who are also FAMU alumni called a Wednesday press conference to ask Montgomery to resign. He quickly refused.”
“Given that Mangum is FAMU’s sixth chief executive since 2001, many supporters of the university say it will be a loss if the conflict with Montgomery ends in her departure,” USA Today noted.
Meanwhile, State Rep. Alan Williams, a Tallahassee Democrat who organized the recent press conference of elected officials, confirmed that he’d called Montgomery the day before to ask him to resign, according to USA Today.
Of the escalating clash, WCTV-TV recently said, “SACS is not looking into the matter at this time, but, FAMU could get a warning, probation, or lose accreditation.”