FAMU trustees levy vote of 'no confidence' in President Ammons
Eight of 12 Florida A&M University trustees, a "super majority," have cast a vote of no confidence in Pres. James Ammons.
The unexpected motion kicked off the trustees' meeting in Tallahassee on Thursday, setting a somber tone just moments after roll call. What does it mean? Nothing good. But for now, it seems Ammons' job is safe. After recessing for several minutes when the motion came to the floor, Ammons returned to the table vowing to fix the university's many problems and "get the job done."
Ammons has been under fire the past few months, since the hazing death of a FAMU student in November. The heat has intensified recently, upon news that more than 100 members of the FAMU marching band at the time of 26-year-old Robert Champion's death were not enrolled as students.
Also on the list of recent troubles at FAMU: a sexual assault case at its K-12 elementary school and accreditation issues, according to a letter from the chairman of the Florida Board of Governors, which oversees the state university system.
Ammons received a formal reprimand from his Board of Trustees in December. Because of a particularly protective contract Ammons recently renegotiated, it would take a super majority of board members, like the one that passed the no confidence vote, to terminate him.
If firing him "with cause" -- for gross negligence in his duties that harm the university, cases of omissions that are felonious or fraudulent, or for being formally indicted with a felony or for misuse of university funds -- Ammons would not be eligible for any additional compensation. But if he's fired "without cause" -- or for reasons other than those listed -- Ammons would be eligible for either a year of his presidential $300K salary or have the option to say on as a professor.
Coincidentally, Ammons's contract renegotiation was secured just two days before Champion's death.
Former FAMU interim Pres. Castell Bryant, who took her own share of heat for problems Ammons was supposed to fix when he replaced her in 2007, is in the audience. Also looking on: dozens of FAMU alumni who have scheduled a press conference this afternoon to show support for Ammons.