In August 2009, Florida Memorial University, the historic black school rich in history but more recently notorious for a grade-fixing scheme that had students trading sex for A's, abruptly canned its president, Karl S. Wright. No explanation was given, and the search for his replacement seemed casual at best.
Last December, New Times published an investigation revealing that the university's campus was overrun with violent crime, including shootings and a mob attack, and that the administration had settled related lawsuits but done little to protect students. Two weeks after the story ran, FMU announced its renewed search for a president.
In May -- five months later -- the school's board of trustees had whittled the candidates to three. They included Lawrence Davenport, an administrator notorious in education circles who had been chased from Florida Atlantic University with a buyout of nearly $600,000.
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The next month, without explanation -- catching a theme? -- FMU dashed those three candidates and started over. Last Thursday, the university finally announced three other candidates.
At least two of those administrators are attempting to hop from one sinking ship to another: In September, Rosyln Clark Artis of West Virginia's Mountain State University was in the news when her school suddenly lost accreditation for its nursing program, leaving students with nothing to show for their tuition. Florida A&M University pharmacy professor Henry Lewis III -- a former interim president who is our gambler's pick to get the post -- is trying to escape a school that has suffered loss of accreditations and high administrative turnover in the past several years. The final candidate is Curtis B. Charles from North Carolina's Fayetteville State University.
Pick one, pick 'em all -- just somehow get an ass into that presidential seat, says a young FMU professor who asked that she not be named: "No offense to [interim president] Sandra Thompson, but there's a big void at the top, and everybody in faculty feels it."