TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida A&M University trustees picked Elmira Mangum, the vice president for budget and planning for Cornell University, to become the school’s 11th president.
The choice was unique 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.
“We just feel the status quo cannot continue,” said Marjorie Turnbull, a former state legislator and FAMU trustee. “To bring someone in with new ideas and who has experienced these issues at other universities, and corrected them, we feel was very important.”
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.
“I expect we will make changes,” Mangum said. “In order to go forward, you have to change.”