The New Leaders of FSU and FAMU Look to the Future
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Her 28-year-long professional career has been in higher education administration. According to FAMU’s official site, she was vice president for planning and budget at Cornell University, charged with managing that university’s resources and annual budgeting process. Before that, she spent nine years in administrative positions at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, as well as stints at the State University of New York at Buffalo and the University of Wisconsin.
She earned her bachelor’s degree in geography and education from North Carolina Central University, an HBCU. She earned two master’s degrees from the University of Wisconsin–Madison and her Ph.D. in educational leadership and policy from SUNY Buffalo.
When asked to describe her leadership style, she answers, “I would say transformative. It’s always been about change. I think it’s indicative of the work I’ve been doing throughout my career.”
In her time at Cornell, “the idea was to change the way they were conducting the business,” she explains. “And I think here at Florida A&M, part of my budgeting and planning background is about transforming the institution into one that will sustain and be sustainable through various economic downturns and changes in enrollment and crises … to build on the foundation and to transform it into one that is responsive to changes in institutional needs and changes in societal needs for education.”
Mangum has an answer for those who would suggest we live in a post-racial society, and the need for separate HBCUs is a relic of the past.
“I think anybody that wants to say that is not paying attention to what’s going on in America — or the rest of the world, in fact,” she says. For starters, FAMU’s student body isn’t all African-American; about 15 percent of its students are other races. “We’re probably as equally diverse as Florida State, or the University of Florida; it’s just flipping the percentages.”
The world, Mangum says, is looking for diversity in the workforce.
“We need to have diverse experiences and we need to take into consideration diverse points of view in different cultures,” she says. “Our goal is to add more people to that diversity. We know when (graduates) leave our institution, they’re going to be in a diverse society … but they have to be trained somewhere.”
After arriving, Mangum’s first task was recruiting a stable leadership team. FAMU had a valid strategic plan, she says, but constant changes at the top and a cavalcade of interim leaders kept the university from making progress.
Mangum shows her Rattler pride speaking at Fenway Park in April.
Florida Agricultural And Mechanical University
“Planning and budgeting has always been a significant part, in fact at its core, to any good university,” she says. “One of the things that I immediately realized at Florida A&M was that we needed more emphasis on planning for the longer term.”
An early focus was “stabilizing the team and reorganizing the functions of the institution … and that meant relocating people in terms of physical location to create the synergy that’s needed to provide the support,” she says.
Already, student advising services have been consolidated in a single location, important on a campus where 35 percent of students are the first generation of their family to attend college.
“Part of our advising, part of our freshman first-year experience in classes, is providing them with the information they need to create a path to graduation,” Mangum says.
In her early days as president, Mangum created the FAMU Sustainability Institute and hired an executive director.
“It is designed to not only provide us with information about how to use less energy or decrease our footprint in terms of a university as a whole with energy savings, but also to commit the faculty across the variety of colleges across the schools around the area of sustainability,” she says.
The State of the University
Getting students graduated in a reasonable amount of time is critical to the university’s success.
“And reasonable to me is four years if you are in a four-year program,” the president says. Currently, FAMU’s four-year graduation rate is 13 percent, the lowest in Florida’s university system, and the six-year rate is only 40 percent.
In the past, Florida universities were funded using a formula based on student population.
“In order for the institution to maintain its level of operation, it had to bring in a lot of students that did not meet what we had as minimum requirements because we needed it to get the funding from the state, and so we packed in the students because the funding was based on FTE (full-time equivalent),” she explains.
Now, funding is based on 10 metrics related to student performance and student success, and FAMU currently ranks dead last in the state university system. Mangum said she is not as concerned about boosting FAMU’s enrollment as she is with attracting quality students “to make sure that we have the quality on the input side so we know they come out on the end in terms of graduation rates.”