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FAMU is off probation



Famulogo Florida A&M University is back in good standing.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools' Commission on Colleges announced today it was taking FAMU off probation – a clear sign FAMU has gotten past the fiscal problems that have dogged it for years and that its accreditation status is solid.

"We no longer have this cloud," FAMU trustee Daryl Parks told the Gradebook. "Now we can get back to the great things going on at FAMU."

SACS put FAMU on probation last year after its Commission on Colleges determined FAMU was failing to comply with 10 accrediting standards for financial accountability and leadership. The action followed a series of other blows for Florida's only historically black public university, including a jaw-dropping state audit, fed-up lawmakers and the formation of a high-profile task force to oversee its finances.

But the SACS decision stung even worse.

Just 10 years prior, FAMU had been Time magazine's College of the Year. Now it was at risk of losing its accreditation – the seal of approval that gives value to its degrees – and being added to a list of troubled institutions that most people had never heard of.

For President James Ammons, the timing couldn't have been worse. A former FAMU provost, Ammons arrived on campus just days after the SACS announcement but quickly put together a plan to tackle the problems. By October, SACS officials were calling the improvements "remarkable." And more kudos soon followed from auditors, lawmakers and members of the oversight board.

"This job clearly was not for the faint of heart," Ammons told the Gradebook in an interview before the SACS announcement. "But when I read the audits, the reports, the academic reviews, I didn't see anything that couldn't be fixed. It was all fixable."

"I would sincerely congratulate President Ammons and his staff who came in to face this very critical issue," said Board of Governors chair Carolyn Roberts. Maintaining accreditation "is good news and it's outstanding news for students who are trying to improve their lives."

- Ron Matus and Shannon Colavecchio-Van Sickler, Times staff writers

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 9:48am]


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