elmira-mangum_web.jpgTALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) – After spending nearly a year-and-a-half without a permanent leader, Florida A&M University is on a fast track to find a new one.

Florida A&M University is narrsearch committee on Monday interviewed six semifinalists for the position. Two candidates were meeting Wednesday with FAMU trustees, and a new president could be selected as soon as Thursday, a spokeswoman said.

The two chosen were Elmira Mangum, vice president for budget and planning at Cornell University and John Price, the former president of University of North Texas at Dallas.

On Friday the search committee whittled down a list of nearly 50 candidates to six semifinalists for the job of FAMU president. Five of the candidates did not even apply for the job until the final hours before this week’s application deadline.

In addition to Mangum and Price those chosen for interviews were Dianne Suber, the president of Saint Augustine’s University in Raleigh, N.C.; John Maupin, president of the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta; Joan

Robinson, the former provost for Morgan State University in Baltimore; and Woodrow Whitlow, who until last fall was a top administrator with NASA.

FAMU has been without a permanent president since July 2012 after James Ammons abruptly resigned amid the fallout over the November 2011 hazing death of a drum major. Larry Robinson, who was the school’s provost under Ammons, has been interim president since then.

Since taking over, Robinson has helped the school institute sweeping new anti-hazing rules and oversaw the return of the famed Marching 100 band from suspension. Robinson also helped guide the university through sanctions placed on the university by a regional accrediting organization. FAMU’s probation was lifted last month.

FAMU’s National Alumni Association has pushed to include Robinson as a candidate but university trustees have so far refused to consider him.

Tommy Mitchell, president of the association, told search committee members on Friday that his group did not believe that the university had attracted a good pool of candidates for FAMU’s top job. But several trustees disagreed with Mitchell and said any of the six candidates were competent enough to run the institution.

The Tallahassee Democrat reported that former FAMU president Walter Smith told the search committee the school should hire its current interim president.

Smith said that Robinson was better than any of the candidates who were being considered. owing its list of candidates for university president.

A university South Florida Managing Editor Carolyn Guniss contributed to this report.