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Trying to repair the damage to the image of Florida A&M University (FAMU) over the hazing death of Robert Champion isn’t the only challenge facing administrators at the this school. Poor performance by students also plagues the state’s only public historically black college.
The president of FAMU, James Ammons, has received wide criticism over his handling of the hazing death of Robert Champion, a Marching 100 Band drum major. Ammons is now facing major criticism over poor academic performance by the students as well as financial problems.
The Orlando Sentinel, a newspaper in Florida, reports that thousands of students enter FAMU ill-equipped to deal with the rigors of college work, citing that only 12% of those who start as freshman graduate within the 4 year allotted time. 39% graduate within 6 years. Lastly, those who finally graduate earning a bachelor’s degree, have the highest debt load of any university. These are dismal results.
Some blame the dismal graduation results on FAMU’s “profile admits” policy. This policy admits students who have failed to meet basic requirements on their SAT scores, their grades in high school and how much math they’ve taken in high school. Prior to Ammons taking over the school, only 14% of FAMU’s undergrads were “profile admits” but today they make up 50%. It’s no wonder the college is failing and turning out students that can’t compete.
In terms of misappropriated funds, further investigation revealed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that some employees in the Marching 100 band, which is federally subsidized, were overpaid. There are also claims that FAMU spent money on quite a few members who were unqualified to be part of the program. Florida Department of Law Enforcement is currently investigating financial irregularities regarding the band’s finances.
Lastly, FAMU’s financial aid department was ordered to return approximately $5.2 million in federal money. Poor financial record keeping, poor academic performance, and the poor publicity of the hazing death of the March 100 band member cast a serious shadow over this school. Can this university make a comeback?
That depends. The Board of Trustees held a meeting on June 27, 2012 to discuss spending almost $1 million dollars on a campaign to repair the school’s image.