Challis Lowe, the embattled chair of the FAMU Board of Trustees, tells The Gradebook she's having second thoughts about FAMU's incoming president. Lowe was on the losing end of a 7-6 vote in February to select the new president, James Ammons, and she's been getting grief for it ever since. Ammons, now chancellor at North Carolina Central University, was FAMU's provost under President Frederick Humphries, who some blame for FAMU's ongoing woes. Given those woes, and the need for sweeping change, Lowe and other trustees thought an outsider would have an easier time making the changes.
But since the vote, Lowe said she's had numerous conversations with Ammons - including a 4-hour meeting in Miami - and arrived at a different conclusion.
"I've come to the belief that his ties will make it easier to make the changes that will need to be made," she said. "That's reinforced by my understanding that he's really committed to change, which wasn't clear in the interview process." Lowe continued: "He'll have a honeymoon where he can really come in and not be the target, if you will, of flak from the faculty, from the alumni association, which any outsider would have been. He's not going to get that initial resistance. I think he'll be embraced by people who see him as being of the university."
Ammons is expected to be confirmed by the Board of Governors in Gainesville tomorrow and is set to begin work July 2. Lowe's future, meanwhile, is in doubt. FAMU's powerful alumni association, upset that Lowe did not vote for Ammons (as well as her support for interim President Castell Bryant) are lobbying legislators to deny her appointment to a second term.
- Ron Matus, state education reporter