FAMU President Elmira Mangum has, for the most part, lost the support of the elected leadership of the university’s Faculty Senate, United Faculty of Florida (FAMU-UFF) chapter, and National Alumni Association (NAA). Students backed former Student Government Association (SGA) President Tonnette Graham’s work to hold Mangum responsible for her actions and elected her vice-president, Justin Bruno, to continue that leadership.
But the FAMU students don’t currently have an elected SGA President to represent them on the Board of Trustees (BOT) due to Mangum’s mishandling of the Student elections. In April, Mangum announced that Jaylen Smith would serve as the “interim” SGA president. The FAMUan reported on April 27 that Smith, who had just elected as the Student Senate president, would be the interim SGA president because of the delay in finalizing the SGA presidential election.
Smith didn’t run for the SGA presidency in the spring when he was junior, probably because he knew he would have lost to Bruno. He’s now become the biggest yes-man on the BOT for the FAMU president who helped him get an office that he didn’t win.
Faculty Senate President Bettye A. Grable, who sits on the BOT, has given Mangum mostly low marks on her evaluation for the past two years. One of her comments in the 2015-2016 evaluation was that Mangum should “have the President's Union negotiations team to always meet as agreed upon with FAMU-UFF and show greater adherence to the Collective Bargaining Agreement.”
The FAMU-UFF chapter has declared an impasse in the current collective bargaining process with the Mangum administration.
“For over eight months, we have been coming to the table ready to represent our faculty and conclude negotiations; that is not the case for your team,” FAMU-UFF President Elizabeth Davenport wrote in a letter to Mangum in July. “In fact, most proposals have been made by UFF and then ignored, and when items are proposed by your team, they usually involve gross infringement of academic freedom.”
The BOT invited NAA President Lt. Col. Gregory Clark to submit comments on Mangum’s job performance as part of its annual evaluation process for her. He mentioned the negative effect that recent decisions by Mangum have had on the NAA’s work for FAMU.
Mangum’s best evaluation ratings on the BOT came from Smith, who FAMU students didn’t elect to be their BOT member. That hasn’t stopped Smith from suggesting that he is the individual that FAMU students have chosen to speak for them. Smith is claiming that the students want Mangum to stay at the university.
“Our students want Dr. Mangum and believe the university needs her during this crucial time,” Smith wrote in an op-ed that the Tallahassee Democrat posted yesterday. The link to that op-ed was on the official FAMU Twitter and Facebook accounts that are managed by an Office of Communications filled with staffers who might have to soon look for new jobs if Mangum leaves.
If the students were really solidly in favor of Mangum like Smith claims, then they would have elected Victor Chrispin as the SGA president. He is seen by many as a big supporter of Mangum. But most of the students voted for Bruno, the vice-president of Tonnette Graham.
Tensions rose between Mangum and Graham when the student body president refused to be a yes-woman for the administration. Graham supported a “no confidence” vote in former Athletic Director Kellen Winslow, Sr., gave Mangum average marks on her 2015 evaluation, and voted against awarding a bonus to Mangum.
At her last meeting as a member of the Florida Board of Governors, Graham also voted to replace BOT Chairman Cleve Warren, who was Mangum’s biggest supporter on the board.
Tonnette Graham and Justin Bruno were the top-voted candidates in their SGA presidential elections because the students knew they would do what’s best for FAMU. Smith is an unelected placeholder who looks like he’s just trying to keep an office that he didn’t obtain through a vote of the student body.