A new president begins a new year at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee with a mission to right financial woes and a falling enrollment after the previous president resigned amid scandal.
Elmira Mangum, who took over in April, begins her first full academic year after James Ammons resigned following the hazing death of a drum major and accreditation problems, as well as incomplete and false audit reports.
In the last three years, enrollment at FAMU has dropped 25 percent. But Mangum said filling classrooms is not her top concern.
“A smaller class size does not bother me,” Mangum said. “I focused more is making sure we have that quality and that interest.”
Mangum said her biggest challenge will be convincing alumni to reinvest in their alma mater.
“This living and learning environment that we have at FAMU is going to be pre-eminent and best in class,” Mangum said.
She spent the summer assembling a new leadership team. Under Mangum’s leadership, there will be a greater emphasis on students.
“And we want to make sure we provide the support the students need to be successful in four years,” Mangum said.
Many students are hopeful the worst is behind the university.
“And she has a lot of really good ideas and discipline that I think we need,” said Ebony Newkirk of Panama City.
The mood on FAMU’s campus now is hopeful following a string of problems that were uncovered following the death of drum major Robert Champion.
“It was a dreary moment for the students, for the campus as a whole,” said FAMU music major Jamal Wallace of Jacksonville.” You know, spirits have been lifted, and we’re glad to see the band back.”
But not all students believe change will be real.
“I'm not really sure (if the changes will be good) yet,” said Tysha Nccig of Tampa.
Mangum has already tangled with a least one member of her trustees and come out swinging, an indication that she understands kid gloves won’t fix the university's problems.