Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Business School Firings Latest FAMU Controversy

Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Business School Firings Latest FAMU Controversy

Article excerpt

TALLAHASSEE, FLA.

Florida A&M University has been a mainstay in the headlines recently, but for all the wrong reasons: fired instructors; inaccurate budget accounts; nearly two years without a permanent president.

As the dark clouds surrounding the nation's largest historically Black university continue to build, university officials say they are focused on the job at hand--stabilizing the university after years of mismanagement and preparing for the transition to a new leader after 18 months under the leadership of interim president Dr. Castell Bryant.

"We know Dr. Bryant is working hard to take the university to the next level for whatever time she is the president," says university spokeswoman LeNedra Carroll.

FAMU officials say the recent firing of eight instructors from the School of Business and Industry (SBI) was part of a restructuring strategy to gain separate accreditation for the internationally renowned program.

The firings were rescinded at a FAMU board of trustees meeting in late June, but some speculate it is only a matter of time before the instructors disappear again.

Some faculty members have charged that the dismissals in late May were wrong and lacked the appropriate protocol.

"While we don't object with the university wanting to get accreditation [for SBI], to take this Draconian move ... wasn't necessary," says Dr. Bill Tucker, a physics professor and president of the FAMU chapter of the United Faculty of Florida.

The business school instructors are an integral part of SBI's acclaimed Professional Development Program. The program stood out as a unique tool when founded by former dean Sybil Mobley to give her students more hands-on experience and make them more marketable throughout the industry.

Officials recently announced the appointment of Dr. Lydia A. McKinley-Floyd as the new dean of SBI. She is expected to take over in the middle of this month. But in the meantime, interim dean Patrick Liverpool says the school needs to diverge from its original mission. The firings, he says, are the first step toward restructuring the program to get the school in line with the standards of the recognized accrediting body, the American Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business.

"When professional development was initiated by Dean Mobley, that was unique," says Liverpool, who has run the school since the beginning of 2006. "But everyone else is now doing professional development, so the competitive edge we had ... is no longer a major drawing card. …

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