Larry Robinson becomes FAMU's interim president after President James Ammons suddenly quits.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Florida A&M University President James Ammons has unexpectedly resigned immediately and the FAMU Board of Trustees appointed an interim president.
The board met in emergency session Monday and Ammons offered his immediate resignation instead of staying on the job through mid-October as originally planned.
Trustees then voted to make Provost Larry Robinson interim president pending final confirmation at the board's next meeting in August.
Some trustees were reluctant to name an interim president on Monday, arguing it was a huge decision that needed more time and consideration. They ultimately agreed to proceed with Robinson for now but will look at other candidates for the job over the next month.
Robinson says he intends to handle a lot of issues much differently and more aggressively, including the university's anti-hazing efforts.
"We have some issues around hazing, or anti-hazing we need to continue working on, and even in those things we're not going to be doing business as usual. We talked about that a little bit this morning prior to the meeting. So it's going to a lot of things that we do fairly aggressive that are going to be different from the way we've done them in the past."
Ammons was FAMU president for five years. His leadership came into question following the hazing-related death of Robert Champion, who was killed during a hazing ritual aboard a band bus last November.
His death sparked more focus on other problems at the university as well, including questions about band membership, incomplete financial audits and low graduation rates.
Rep. Alan Williams, a staunch supporter of Ammons, feels as if Ammons "took one for the team" by stepping down now and trying to give the school a fresh start.
"Let's face it. The day before Mr. Champion passed away, Dr. Ammons was the smartest and greatest president on the face of the earth by several members on this Board of Trustees and although it's unfortunate that Mr. Champion has passed away, I don't think that called into question Dr. Ammons' leadership skills."
The board voted to give Ammons a contractual bonus of $81,250 for the 2010-2011 school year. That represents 25 percent of his $325,000 base salary. He will also receive a $17,062 bonus for the 2011-2012 year. That's five percent of his $341,250 base salary.
Ammons was originally supposed to stay on at FAMU as a tenured professor, but right now, he is scheduled to go on sabbatical for one year.
Robinson has worked at FAMU since 1997 and he served as interim president for about six weeks in 2007. He looks to bring new stability to the university.
"I see it as an opportunity for the university to move forward on a number of fronts and that's what I'm going to be looking at doing."
Robinson says he will put together a short-term plan to put FAMU on the path to stability. He will present the plan when the board meets next on August 22 and 23.
First Coast News