by Rev. R.B. Holmes
Florida A&M University is beginning a very important chapter in its storied life. Undoubtedly the gem of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, stakeholders writing that chapter are anxious to restore the brilliance of the brand; Excellence with Caring. They are not clinging to the past, but committing to the legacy that secures the university and prepares our students for the future.
FAMU has a long history of turning an inherent disadvantage into success, fascinating educators with each new benchmark. The new standard confirmed its relevancy. The university landed squarely in the Ivy League realm, on the radar of major corporations, the recipient of patents, major grants, research contracts, and findings. Merit scholars and faculty clamored to be part of this emerging phenomenon.
It is important to understand that institutional resilience is a FAMU trademark. Remember, HBCUs are in great peril and their presidents must be ready to defend and advance the mission constantly.
For that reason, a national presidential search is necessary. Transparency is critical to the process. It will provide the clarity necessary to find the right leader. FAMU cannot be victimized again by a hidden agenda facilitated by side deals that cost the institution it’s relevancy, dignity and purpose. A transparent search process gets us there.
Merit is the arbiter of this process; therefore, we must understand that no one is entitled to the job. There can be no backdoor entry for our next president.
FAMU deserves exceptional leadership and a national search will deliver such a candidate. The interim president, Dr. Larry Robinson, must have the right to be eligible to apply.
Florida A&M University is the great equalizer, rewarding the best of us and the least of us with an education that prepared many to compete, work and contribute to society that has been less than welcoming. This university has done great service to our community and we are obligated to keep the FAMU legacy alive.
The Reverend Dr. R.B Holmes is a former member of the Florida A& M University and Florida Memorial University Board of Trustees and is a current member of the Edward Waters College Board of Trustees. He is the pastor of Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in Tallahassee.