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News Clips 01/17/2013
FAMU ordered to make regular updates to Board of Governors
Source: Associated Press, 01/16/13
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Florida A&M University must file regular updates to the board that governs the state's universities, detailing how it is improving practices following a blistering inspector general's report criticizing officials for failing to follow laws and regulations in the years leading to the hazing death of drum major Robert Champion.
State University System Chancellor Frank Brogan said Wednesday that FAMU officials must pull recommendations from the Board of Governors' inspector general's report, released late last month, as well as other reports that examined the university's finances and accreditation standards, and report to the board on steps they are taking to meet them.
"We want to determine, where do we go from here? How do we put of all this together and put it into a coordinated action plan?" Brogan told members of the board after they were presented with the report. "Over time, we will be able to report on what methodology, what strategies, what remedial activities Florida A&M has taken to create success in each of those areas."
Champion died in November 2011 after he was hazed on a bus parked outside an Orlando hotel by fellow members of the famed Marching 100 band, which has appeared at inauguration parades and Super Bowls. Champion was beaten in the hazing ritual, and more than a dozen students were charged.
The inspector general's report, ordered shortly after Champion's death, capped a tumultuous year for the university, which also has endured a criminal investigation into the finances of the Marching 100 as well as the revelation that the university trustees were given false audit summaries by university auditors.
FAMU officials say they have already made sweeping changes in the aftermath of Champion's death, which also resulted in the retirement of the band director and the resignation of the university president.
The university has until next week to respond to the inspector general's report. Interim FAMU President Larry Robinson said it was premature to talk about the response.
But he told the board that FAMU has revised its anti-hazing policies and increased awareness of them, built an anti-hazing website, and improved the systems for reporting and investigating hazing incidents.
After the meeting, Robinson said he had no problem providing regular updates to the board.
"They are the governing body, and they have the right now to know how things are progressing on these issues," Robinson said.
The Board of Governors' meeting drew about two dozen FAMU alumni, many wearing the school's colors, green and orange.
Alumna Diane Poole Thomas, a retired teacher, said she was concerned about how the Board of Governors was treating FAMU and that she believed the school's former president had been belittled by members at a previous meeting.
"They didn't treat him with any respect," said Thomas, who added that she hadn't read the inspector general's report. "There are a lot of positive things going on at the university."