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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Does Mars have a law school?



Marsodysseylg FAMU President James Ammons and incoming law dean LeRoy Pernell won positive reviews from frustrated students after yesterday's meeting in Orlando. Pernell answered questions for nearly two hours, promising better communication, improved academic support services and light at the end of the accreditation tunnel (see St. Petersburg Times story here).

But some students and other observers were stumped by Pernell's contention, echoed by Ammons in remarks after the meeting, that the exodus of top-notch students from the school in recent months (see Times story here) was not out of the ordinary. Both men said many law schools must deal with top students leaving for higher-tiered schools. "This transfer phenomena, again, it's not unusual," Pernell said in response to a student's question. "It's not uncommon," he said at another. In fact, he told the students, he's dealt with the issue at Northern Illinois University, where he'll be the dean through the end of the year.

The response from students: That might be true at other schools, but it's not what's happening at FAMU. Several students who left in recent months, and many others who considered leaving, said they did so not because they wanted to pad their resumes, but because their frustration had reached a breaking point. "I would have transferred to a law school on Mars if there was one," said Cynthia Zamminer, who spoke with The Gradebook this morning. "FAMU was that bad."

Zamminer, 29, left FAMU this month to attend Barry law school, which is also located in Orlando. Like others, she said she left reluctantly, because she valued FAMU's goal of producing more black lawyers and wanted to be part of a what she thought would be a bold, new institution. "I know of a lot of students who had the opportunity to go to higher-tier law schools," she said, "but they wanted to go to FAMU."

- Ron Matus, state education reporter

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 9:21am]


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