At her inauguration as the 60th mayor of Atlanta, Keisha Lance Bottoms proudly reminded the audience that she is “a graduate of Florida A&M University.” She also added that: “I am the first HBCU graduate to become an Atlanta mayor who is not a graduate of Howard or Morehouse. The streak has been broken.”
Bottoms’ win in the 2017 Atlanta mayoral election is the latest addition to her long record of public service. She was previously a judge (pro hoc) in the Fulton County State Court, executive director of the City of Atlanta and Fulton County Recreation Authority (AFCRA), and a member of the Atlanta City Council.
Her next big job should be serving on the Board of Trustees (BOT) of Famu. Rattlers should begin lobbying the Florida Board of Governors, Gov. Rick Scott, and all of the gubernatorial candidates to appoint her to one of the seats.
Bottoms’ predecessor, Kasim Reed, became a member of the Howard University Board of Trustees in 2002 while he was in the Georgia General Assembly. He continued to serve on the Howard board when he was inaugurated as the mayor of Atlanta in 2010 and remained until June 30, 2017.
A seat on the FAMU BOT would give Bottoms a chance to use her strong leadership skills to help ensure that her alma mater has the policies and supervision it needs for continued success. She would also be at the center of the long-term planning processes. That would create an even better opportunity for her to connect her work in Atlanta with what is happening at FAMU. Her agenda in Atlanta includes strengthening the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and increasing city support for the local K-12 school system.
A total of 12 of 13 seats on the FAMU BOT are currently filled. Scott still hasn’t appointed a replacement for former Trustees Gary McCoy, who resigned last year.
FAMU went from having six of the 11 appointed seats on its Board of Trustees (BOT) filled by alumni in 2015 to now only two. At both the University of Florida and Florida State University, alumni hold the majority of the 11 appointed seats.
For state university BOTs in Florida, the governor appoints six members and the Florida Board of Governors (BOG) appoints five. The Student Government Association president and Faculty Senate president serve as ex-officio members.
No candidate in the Florida gubernatorial race has publicly promised to work to restore the alumni majority on the FAMU BOT if elected.
The FAMU National Alumni Association has spoken out publicly about the problem. But so far Scott, the BOG, and the gubernatorial candidates haven’t announced any intention to correct it.