Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

FAMU president touts progress made under his leadership

Dr. James Ammons awarded seven scholarships in his visit.

Times (2007)

Dr. James Ammons awarded seven scholarships in his visit.

ST. PETERSBURG — Dr. James Ammons, president of Florida A&M University, had reason to smile Wednesday evening after the progress he has led at the university.

Though the school continues to work through many of the problems that have plagued it, he still called on alumni and supporters to invest more in the future of FAMU.

"This institution could've fallen and that would've been the greatest tragedy," Ammons said. "Now we're determined to show people we can handle our business."

The reception at St. Petersburg Country Club was attended by 70 alumni, supporters, Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch and city officials, including Mayor Rick Baker, Deputy Mayor Goliath Davis, council Chairman James Bennett and District 4 council member Leslie Curran.

Fresh off awarding seven scholarships to area students in a ceremony at Gibbs High School, Ammons was presented with a key to the city by the council for his work with FAMU and the impact it has in St. Petersburg.

Wearing a green and orange tie, Ammons discussed how far the university has come in the past year, praising his staff and the alumni for their support. He also warned how much the state budget cuts could harm FAMU's future and its progress. That's why he said he was appealing to graduates and supporters to reach out to the university.

"Too much is at stake at FAMU with these budget cuts," Ammons said. "FAMU now needs you as part of an investment strategy. If something happens to FAMU, future generations will hold us accountable if it's on our watch."

The importance of improving the "quality of experience" for students and faculty is key, Ammons said.

"Some fought for freedom, some had dreams, and many went to work for a better life," Ammons said. "For many African-Americans in Florida, that better life came because of FAMU. The university led the development of the African-American middle class in Florida, so we need to continue to work toward a better FAMU."

Donald Rutledge, president of the Upper Pinellas/Clearwater chapter of the FAMU National Alumni Association, said he recognized the importance of strong alumni support and was impressed by Ammons' performance over the past year.

"I think they turned the corner on handling the problems and putting in strong procedures to make sure it doesn't happen again," Rutledge said. "I think once prospective students see that, academically, the university is strong … I used to tell them, 'We'll get through that.' That's why he's been going around the state talking about the changes."

Ammons said he had been looking forward to meeting members of the community and seeing old friends. He also addressed his approval of the new dean at the FAMU law school and the recent new hires.

"It's an exciting time at FAMU," Ammons said. "New Dean LeRoy Pernell is tapping into his network to build a new faculty. … The new ones have impeccable credentials

Commissioner Welch, a 1987 FAMU graduate, said he has been keeping track of the progress Ammons has made at the university and what he has seen bodes well for FAMU's future. "He's instilled calmness in the organization," he said. "People feel he will be the leader for the long term. … He's restarting the commitment to excellence that is the bedrock of FAMU."

Dagny Salas can be reached [email protected] or (727) 893-8872.

FAMU president touts progress made under his leadership 04/26/08 [Last modified: Saturday, April 26, 2008 4:33am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Review: Kenny Loggins, Michael McDonald team up to cool down the Clearwater Jazz Holiday


    A cool breeze swept through Coachman Park Saturday night. Couple of them, actually.

    Kenny Loggins performed at the Clearwater Jazz Holiday on Oct. 21, 2017.
  2. No. 16 USF hangs on at Tulane, off to first 7-0 start


    NEW ORLEANS — After half a season of mismatches, USF found itself in a grudge match Saturday night.

    USF quarterback Quinton Flowers (9) runs for a touchdown against Tulane during the first half of an NCAA college football game in New Orleans, La., Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Derick E. Hingle) LADH103
  3. Lightning buries Penguins (w/video)

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Ryan Callahan spent a lot of time last season rehabilitating his injured hip alongside Steven Stamkos, who was rehabbing a knee after season-ending surgery. During those hours, Callahan noticed two things about Stamkos: his hunger and his excitement to return this season.

    Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Slater Koekkoek (29) advances the puck through the neutral zone during the first period of Saturday???‚??„?s (10/21/17) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Pittsburgh Penguins at Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  4. Spain planning to strip Catalonia of its autonomy


    BARCELONA, Spain — The escalating confrontation over Catalonia's independence drive took its most serious turn Saturday as Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of Spain announced he would remove the leadership of the restive region and initiate a process of direct rule by the central government in Madrid.

    Demonstrators in Barcelona protest the decision to take control of Catalonia to derail the independence movement.
  5. Funeral held for soldier at center of political war of words (w/video)


    COOPER CITY — Mourners remembered not only a U.S. soldier whose combat death in Africa led to a political fight between President Donald Trump and a Florida congresswoman but his three comrades who died with him.

    The casket of Sgt. La David T. Johnson of Miami Gardens, who was killed in an ambush in Niger. is wheeled out after a viewing at the Christ The Rock Church, Friday, Oct. 20, 2017  in Cooper City, Fla. (Pedro Portal/Miami Herald via AP) FLMIH102