Humphries: FAMU family must step up to secure university’s future
Frederick S. Humphries, the eighth president of FAMU, shared the following message with the FAMU family on his official Facebook page on Nov. 2, 2014.
As we close out this 2014 homecoming weekend. I will make some observations about the university and where we are today and what I personally believe has to happen. I have heard that some believe that the world has changed since I was president and that I may be out of touch with how to promote the university successfully and attract the necessary resources to sustain our alma mater. All due respect to those persons, but I disagree. When it comes to the “meat and potatoes” of FAMU and it relevancy to the fabric of American Higher Education the fundamentals have not changed.
- It is critical that all persons in leadership must have a fundamental appreciation and respect for our history, the special role that FAMU plays, and the unique dynamics that it must navigate to be successful in a landscape that does not want FAMU to succeed and is actively seeking to starve the university to death.
One cannot adopt a model that is successful at a predominantly white institution (PWI) and just drop that model into FAMU and expect it to work without significant amounts of nuance and finesse. Any notion of: “I’m from a PWI, I get it, the current and former university community doesn’t” – is arrogant, inherently naïve, and will fail. The stakes are too high to not be thoughtful in every action that FAMU administrators and employees take.
- Anyone that doesn’t appreciate point #1 should quickly and swiftly be removed from university leadership but with due process. How former Head Football Coach Earl Holmes was handled was in very bad form and the impact of the firing is costing us more in damage to our brand than if he continued as coach and lost every game the rest of the season. This was simply poor judgment. If FAMU is to be considered a serious university, be a destination for the best students, faculty and garner the public trust to attract research money and elite athletes – these kind of actions must be managed better “Full Stop.”
- As a community we must make our views about decisions at FAMU visible but respectfully – the world is watching and we must consistently demonstrate that we are serious, thoughtful and deliberate in everything that we do.
- The alumni must support the university that provided them with tools to be successful in life. I met so many alumni this weekend who are very successful spiritually and financially. Many of them met their spouses at FAMU. How can one have received so much and give so little in return? I have personally given all that I have for this university to be great whether it’s through my time or from my pocketbook. I am not suggesting that all alumni need to be me, but we must give back. Cecka Rose Green’s 10 for10 Challenge is a great example of an idea that used “crowd funding” as way to give back. She is to be commended for this effort. Others must step up as well. The gift from Microsoft Board of Directors Chairman John Thompson, a “Mighty Rattler” should make everyone think about “how can I give more within my personal situation?” and play an active role in the university being strong.
- I, along with others, walked the stadium and spent time promoting former Gov. Charlie Crist during the homecoming game. We must vote for him, however, if he wins then we must hold him accountable to FAMU. That goes for all elected officials that we collectively support, including our own alumni who are in office. Our alumni must vigorously fight for FAMU the way that Florida State University (FSU) and University of Florida alumni fight for their respective alma maters. I am not suggesting that ours don’t, but simply making a statement. Make no mistake, when John Thrasher takes office as president of FSU, FAMU will be in the fight of her life in the Florida Legislature.
- Lastly, I firmly believe that our new president, Dr. Elmira Mangum, absolutely can’t fail. This presidency is at one of the most consequential cross-roads in University history. We are at an inflection point. The long term position of the university will be determined on her watch. Yes, it’s a heavy burden but it’s one that must be carried as if she was Hercules. For our Madame President for to be successful, I respectfully encourage her to master our history as a university. Spend some time at the FAMU Black Archives to understand where we have come from and the obstacles that have been overcome. It will give her the context that she needs to navigate FAMU and the State of Florida. She must succeed for the university cannot sustain another negative administrative experience.
If she fails, I fear that my stated dream of leaving FAMU in “The Springtime” when my presidency ended will turn to a very long Winter that we may never recover from.
Long live FAMU!