Letter to Ron Matus

of the
St. Petersburg Times

Mr. Matus,
in your editorial, published June 9, 2007, you made some statements that were prejudicial, discriminatory and border on racism.

I have discovered that it is very easy these days to criticize Florida A&M University and score points with the government.
Of course government officials at the national level and the state level desire to cut FAMU.

George W. Bush cut the Upward Bound program at Florida A&M University, and Charlie Crist vetoed funds for the pharmacy building at FAMU, which was needed for accreditation. Therefore officials at the highest levels of government are cutting FAMU.

Mr. Matus, in your editorial entitled, 'At FAMU, bad hiring practically a policy'. When you said "practically", that just goes to show that bad hiring may not be a policy at FAMU. You just wanted to make that statement about FAMU in order to score some brownie points with those government officials that intend on discriminating against FAMU.

You stated that FAMU remains 93 percent Black. What do you mean FAMU remains 93 percent Black. FAMU has not always been 93 percent Black. You mentioned that FAMU was founded in 1887 to educate Black students. At that time it was not 93 percent Black, but 100 percent Black. Therefore, there has been a change, not a remains. It has changed from 100 percent Black to 93 percent Black. And because of its unique population, FAMU adds diversity to the public university system in Florida.

You mentioned FAMU hired an accountant named Curtis Hagan to work in financial affairs, whom before his hiring had been recently released from prison for shaking down bribes. Hagan had served his time, and as we know, one purpose of the prison system in Florida is rehabilitation. Knowing that, FAMU gave Hagan the opportunity to put the past behind him and have a job. It seems as if giving someone an opportunity to achieve in life is something you would know nothing about. Of course he squandered his opportunity. As you said, "He was canned after supervisors complained he was lazy and incompetent". Let's see what kind of opportunities Paris Hilton gets when she gets out of lock-up.

Mr.Matus, you went on to mention "buddy-buddy ties clouding a good employer's judgment". You went on to mention that FAMU observers say it's not unreasonable to suspect it's worst at FAMU. What FAMU observers? Here you go with that he say she say ....

Mr. Matus, you mentioned how in the spring of 2000, Arthur Washington, then the dean of the FAMU College of Arts and Sciences, offered Kiah Edwards III, then a department chair at Alabama State University, the job of associate dean. You went on to say that professors at FAMU found out that Edwards was listed on the internet as a sex offender in Texas. As a result Edwards resigned.

It's amazing, Mr. Matus, that while Kiah Edwards III was department chair at Alabama State University, no one, not even you said anything; but as soon as he was at FAMU, then everyone including you, wanted to get fifteen minutes of glory. As a matter of fact Alabama State University never said anything about Edwards being listed on the internet as a sex offender.

Mr. Matus, you mentioned that, "for years, FAMU students, and faculty have joked, groaned and openly wondered about the extent of questionable hiring-if not outright cronyism-on campus". Mr. Matus the truth of the matter is that in reality, FAMU students and faculty have not joked, groaned, or openly wondered about the extent of questionable hiring. You tried to present a picture of questionable hiring at FAMU, and inflated it.

You mentioned that in 2003, FAMU installed a Kentucky lawyer into an endowed chair, and agreed to pay him $100,000 a year, which you called a fat salary. You tried to make it sound as if Cunningham was making a whole lot of money. When in all actuality, that is mere pittance compared to the $1,000,000 that Cunningham contributed to the University. You stipulated that the Department of Financial Services concluded Bryant was right about Cunningham's featherweight workload and recommended FAMU take steps to recover nearly $200,000. I wonder did the Department of Financial Services also declare that the University should return the $1 million to Cunningham that he gave to the University. Because you see, Cunningham did not make a profit from what you call a so called "arrangement".

Mr. Matus, you also mentioned that Victoria Dawson, who was a legal writing instructor at Texas Southern University, became the director of FAMU's legal writing program. You stipulated that Victoria Dawson posted a working paper online that was so filled with errors it has since made her a laughingstock among students. Wow, Mr. Matus, you sure know how to exaggerate. She was not made a laughingstock of students. By the way, once again, why didn't you or anyone else mention her writing skills before she arrived at FAMU? Why didn't you mention it while she was at Texas Southern University? As a matter of fact, I would like to see a copy of the paper.

Mr. Matus, what is happening at FAMU is discriminatory, and an example of what can happen when government officials want to destroy. FAMU is attacked at every possible angle even when it is not warranted.

Frederick Bryant
June 26, 2007

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