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TALLAHASSEE — Florida A&M University administrators are still struggling to explain major financial management problems outlined in a blistering state audit, but they got a significant win Wednesday: Legislative support for FAMU's financial control over its joint engineering college with Florida State University.

By an overwhelming vote, the Senate Wednesday removed from its proposed 2007-08 budget a provision that would have transferred financial oversight of the $10.4-million joint college to FSU from FAMU, the state's only historically black public university.

Meanwhile, House budget chief Rep. Ray Sansom said he, too, wants FAMU to control the budget. That all but guarantees his fellow representatives will vote accordingly.

The FAMU victory follows intense negotiations this week between members of the legislative black caucus and Sen. Evelyn Lynn, chair of the higher education appropriations committee that first proposed taking away FAMU's budget oversight of the college.

Lynn's committee was reacting to the recent operations audit that documented millions in questionable expenses, missing receipts and financial records, and other money-handling problems. The audit was  the latest example of budget and leadership problems that have plagued FAMU for years.

But even FAMU supporters like Sen. Al Lawson, who conceded FAMU's finances were an embarrassing mess, decried the engineering college proposal. Lawson said it was unfair to make such a drastic change right before newly selected President James Ammons takes over this summer, and many students and alumni feared FAMU would lose its role in the college altogether.

- Shannon Colavecchio-Van Sickler

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 9:16am]


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