Accrediting agency removes FAMU from probation
The regional accrediting body had good news for Florida A&M University today: the school is back in good standing.
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools voted to remove FAMU from probation and the watchful eye that comes with it. That probation lasted one year and was mainly a result of the November 2011 hazing death of drum major Robert Champion and improper internal audits performed by a former FAMU employee.
“While we celebrate, let’s also remember that we have to keep up the good work that lead to this outcome,” FAMU Interim President Larry Robinson said during a conference call to inform the Board of Trustees about the decision.
Robinson and other university leaders are attending the SACS annual meeting in Atlanta where accreditation decisions are handed down.
It was last year's annual meeting where the probation was implemented. During that time, FAMU’s accreditation remained intact but the ruling created a dark cloud that affected recruitment and reputation.
From the time the probation was instituted, FAMU said it was already working to address the issues raised. The agency also received a positive report from a site visit team that spent several days at FAMU a few months ago.
The school said it was showing progress, including bringing the Marching 100 band off suspension under new tighter standards.
If SACS was not satisfied with FAMU's progress, it could have kept the university on probation another year or taken it a step further and revoked accreditation, which could have made students ineligible for federal financial aid.
Instead, university leaders are now anticipating a formal letter outlining its good standing.
FAMU Student Body President Anthony Siders, a member of the Board of Trustees, praised Robinson for his leadership and repeated what has become the school’s battle cry: “Forward ever, backwards never. FAMU today, FAMU tomorrow and FAMU forever.”
Now that the school’s accreditation issues are cleared up, the board is now focusing on restarting its search for a permanent leader. Robinson has been serving as interim leader ever since President James Ammons resigned in July 2012 at the height of the hazing and auditing scandals.
Board members have faced pressure from students and alumni to allow Robinson to apply for the permanent position, though he agreed not to when he accepted the job of interim president.
The search was suspended earlier this year right before finalists -- Robinson not among them -- were to be publicly identified. At the time, trustees said the accreditation issues should be handled first before a new leader is brought in.