Elmira Mangum Steps Down as FAMU President

Larry Robinson named interim for third time.

Larry Robinson named interim for third time.

The seemingly endless soap opera featuring Florida A&M University trustees and president Elmira Mangum ended today, as the board, by a 10–1 margin, approved a separation agreement brokered between the embattled leader and the heavily criticized board last month.

Mangum will receive her $425,000 annual salary through April 2017, when her original contract is scheduled to expire. If she does not seek other employment following a yearlong sabbatical, during which she will earn 90% of her current salary, she will be able to remain at the university as a tenured faculty member and its highest-paid professor.

Trustees also agreed to pay $7,500 in expenses related to her moving out of the presidential residence, and $6,500 of her attorney’s fees.

Named HBCU Female President of the Year in 2015, Dr. Mangum won support from students and alumni over her three years in office during which the university announced its largest individual gift from alumnus and Microsoft executive John Thompson, a federal transfer of more than 3,500 acres of land to the university for use in its agricultural programmatic development, and moving the institution from the bottom of the state’s performance metrics ranking system to receiving more than $25 million in merit-based funding.

Dr. Mangum faced criticism nearly from the beginning of her tenure at the helm of Florida’s flagship historically black university. Trustees battled over her salary package early, and bickering over her personnel decisions, management and communication style with board members, and operational vision remained as constant points of contention throughout her time in Tallahassee.

Last summer, controversy rose to a fever pitch when concerns over the transfer of fiscal oversight of the FAMU-Florida State University Joint College of Engineering, which shifted from FAMU to FSU in exchange for FAMU having oversight of school’s dean, became public.

In June, a coalition of former presidents and FAMU stakeholders issued a letter opposing an extension for Dr. Mangum’s contract, a suggestion trustees followed two months later.

Dr. Mangum will be replaced by Larry Robinson, who has served as interim president three times in the last decade, but has never been tapped as the permanent selection. Some stakeholders have called for trustees to offer the permanent appointment to Dr. Robinson, but new guidelines passed by the Florida Board of Governors in May could require a national search to be conducted under new terms and subject to a more detailed review from the BOG.