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University Beat

FAMU Ousts President, While University of West Fl Names New Boss

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FAMU President Elmira Mangum will step down immediately.

A tale of two Florida universities and their presidents sees one school part ways with its leader, while the other has found a new boss.

By a vote of 10-1, the Board of Trustees of Florida A&M University approved a plan Thursday under which President Elmira Mangum will step down immediately.

The first woman president of the school served just over two years. Under the agreement, Mangum will continue to receive her $425,000 annual salary through March 31. At that point, she becomes eligible for a yearlong sabbatical and would have the option to return to the university as a tenured professor.

Following the vote, Mangum agreed with the decision and said that she believes it's clear there was no way forward.

Mangum's two years have been turbulent and marred by power struggles with trustees. The former Cornell University official grappled with the politics of running a public university in Florida and was nearly fired in 2015.

Even with eight new members of the board replacing the group that attempted to dismiss Mangum last year, the new board gave her an unfavorable review earlier this year and refused to extend her current contract.

Trustees also approved Larry Robinson as interim President.

Robinson, who is a distinguished professor at the university's School of the Environment, was the interim President from July 2012 to April 2014.

Robinson helped FAMU through the immediate fallout after the November 2011 hazing death of Marching 100 band member Robert Champion of Decatur, Georgia.

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Credit University of West Florida
UWF Provost and Vice President Martha Saunders has been voted in as President by a Board vote of 9-4.

In Pensacola, University of West Florida Trustees picked current Provost and Vice President Martha Saunders as the school's new president Thursday by a 9-4 vote over former Florida Senate President Don Gaetz.

Two other candidates, College Board executive Frank Ashley and University of Akron Vice President Mike Sherman did not receive a vote.

The move came as a surprise to some, as many figured Gaetz's ties to a number of the trustees gave him an advantage.

However, many UWF faculty and students preferred Saunders, saying Gaetz's academic qualifications, including being the only finalist not having a doctorate degree, made him less appealing. In addition, Gaetz had never worked in higher education before.

Saunders is replacing current President Judy Bense, who has led UWF since 2008. Bense is planning to take a year-long paid sabbatical and then has the option to return as a faculty member.

Saunders will need to be approved by the state university system's Board of Governors, which will vote on her appointment at its November 3 meeting.