NCCU grad to head FAMU
Florida A&M University trustees, seeking to shake up an institution that has been beset by scandals and administrative problems during the last decade, turned Thursday to an outsider who has strong ties to Durham to lead the institution.
Trustees picked Elmira Mangum, the vice president for budget and planning for Cornell University, to become the school's 11th president.
Mangum grew up in Durham, graduating from Hillside and then N.C. Central University. With a background in geography and urban and regional planning, she has been a vice president at Ivy League school Cornell since 2010. She has also been an associate provost at the University of North Carolina and held several administrative positions at the University of Buffalo.
Anita Walton, NCCU’s director of alumni affairs, said through email that the university sent Mangum a note of congratulations when she accepted her position at Cornell. “We will be sending a note of congratulations on her post at FAMU as well,” Walton said. “We’ve been alerting alumni of this exciting news.”
The choice was unique for FAMU for several reasons: The 60-year-old Mangum has no ties to the university, ending a tradition over the last few decades of having a president who attended the school. Mangum also became the first woman selected to the job permanently.
But for some trustees the key reason they hired Mangum was that she would be a "change agent" who could help FAMU restore its reputation following a tumultuous period that included the November 2011 hazing death of a FAMU drum major. The university has also had problems with finances and audits that led to investigations and firings.
Mangum, who said she was honored to be picked, promised that she would make changes once she is in place. During her interviews she stressed her ability to contain costs, bring budgets into line, while also working to maintain affordability for college students.
The choice of Mangum, however, was not unanimous, and followed an outpouring of support for interim president Larry Robinson. Robinson took the job in July 2012 after the abrupt resignation of James Ammons, who previously had been chancellor at NCCU, amid the fallout of the death of Robert Champion.
Robinson helped put in strict new anti-hazing rules for the school, overhauled the Marching 100 band, and dealt with sanctions placed on the university by a regional accreditation organization. FAMU's probation was lifted in December.
But Robinson was not allowed to apply for the job during the search because trustees said it would dissuade other qualified candidates from applying.
Herald-Sun reporter April Dudash contributed to this report.