It took much longer than it should have but the president of Florida A&M University under whose watch a student died from hazing is no longer head of the school. James Ammons resigned, effective immediately, on Monday.
He had resisted two rather major nudges from his bosses, the members of the Board of Trustees, but eventually handed in his resignation last week with an exit date in October. But when the trustees went into emergency session this Monday, Mr. Ammons agreed to what looks like a handsome buyout, paving the way for the provost, Larry Robinson, to take over as interim president.
Now it is time to begin restoring the tarnished reputation of one of the nation’s most prestigious historically black universities. That will not be easy, given the now widely acknowledged pattern of violent hazing that led to the death of a drum major, Robert Champion, and criminal charges against several students. No amount of burnishing will remove that stain from FAMU’s image. But the departure of Mr. Ammons can start the process of healing.
It is unclear how much of the work ahead Mr. Robinson can accomplish but he will not be entering unchartered territory without a guide. In May, the Ammons administration unveiled for the Board of Trustees a detailed anti-hazing plan. It was presented by Mr. Robinson.
But there are other difficult areas that must also be tackled, including the university’s finances, and the trustees must give the highest priority to selection of a permanent president.