Executives at Historically Black Colleges and Universities are coming under fire and scrutiny from all directions. From students and parents lamenting the high costs of education, to state governments evaluating the funding of these schools or alumni concerned about the value of their degrees as they worry about the very existence of their beloved alma maters.
The scrutiny on these institutions is not letting up. Neither is the pressure for them to keep pace with the changes in the education marketplace, compete with more well funded institutions and make long range plans to keep their institutions viable and sustainable.
As HBCU leadership push hard on established boundaries trying to keep their schools relevant and competitive, not everyone will agree on all the decisions being made.
One of the latest disagreements taking place in the open now involves President Elmira Mangum of Florida A & M University (FAMU).
President Magnum and Chairman of the FAMU Board of Trustees, Rufus Montgomery, are in disagreement about decisions made by Dr. Magnum. Montgomery claims that Dr. Magnum is not communicating with the trustees and making independent decisions. Her judgement on key hires is being questioned by some members of the board. On the other side, the state’s Board of Governors is investigating accusations that Montgomery has attempted to bully Dr. Magnum.
At the end of the first year, Dr. Mangum’s first performance evaluation has been released publicly showing her less than stellar grades.
Five HR questions come to mind:
1. Which HBCU president is going to assume a presidency now and get stellar marks after year one? There is no pleasing all constituents when tough decisions are to be made.
2. What are the trustees experiencing within a year that wasn’t visible through a comprehensive search process? How many voices were in the room when decisions were being made.
3. With the challenges facing our HBCUs who is going to take responsibility for tough decisions if Presidents can’t trust that trustees will support decisions and plans? Are the decisions ad hoc or part of a longer term plan?
4. Who is demonstrating the leadership to other employees and students in how we resolve workplace disagreements like this?
5. Is publishing the annual performance evaluation a consistent practice? Most employees have a right to respond to evaluations. Were those responses published as well?
We will continue to watch whether or not the interest of FAMU students and families are represented in this battle of wills. I am reminded of the African proverb (don’t quote me on the exact words) that says – When elephants fight, it is the ground that gets trampled and destroyed.
Source of details – wfsu.org
Commentary is mine!