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News Clips 01/17/2013
FAMU reopens search for director of Marching 100 band
Source: Orlando Sentinel, 01/16/13
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By Denise-Marie Ordway
FAMU announced this evening that it is reopening the search for a director of its famous marching band, which was suspended indefinitely after the hazing death of drum major Robert Champion.
Florida A&M University had been prepared Tuesday morning to name the new band director but abruptly canceled a press conference when it failed to reach an agreement with the finalist for the job.
Interim President Larry Robinson said Wednesday that there was a last-minute disagreement with finalist Jorim Reid, a FAMU graduate who is the director of bands for North Carolina Central University.
"We thought we were close to a decision on the band director and, turns out, there were some issues we didn't think we could get resolved," he said.
While Robinson did not go into detail about the disagreement, he said it had to do with the way the university was restructuring the music department in the wake of Champion's death in November, 2011.
FAMU has made a number of changes designed to tighten controls within the music department and ensure faculty is checking that the men and women who perform with the band meet eligibility requirements.
FAMU has acknowledged that band administrators previously were not always vigilant about monitoring band members' qualifications. Last year, the Orlando Sentinel reported that 100 of the estimated 350 people on the band roster in fall 2011 — including three of those charged in Champion's death — were not enrolled at FAMU or two other Tallahassee schools where students had an option to participate in the band.
Rather than select a new band director from the remaining finalists, Robinson said FAMU will launch a wider search. This time, the university is considering using a search firm.
Robinson could not say when the band would be reinstated.
He also could not say whether the two remaining finalists will again seek the job. They are Shelby Chipman, a FAMU music professor who was a drill coordinator for the Marching 100 from 1998 to 2011, and Gregory Drane, who has worked as an assistant conductor for the Penn State University concert band.
Robinson said that after closer scrutiny, a fourth finalist — Richard Beckford, the director of bands for a high school in Pompano Beach — was disqualified because he did not meet the criteria for the job.