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FAMU president resigns over hazing death

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- The president of Florida A&M University reached an agreement with school officials yesterday to resign from his post immediately, after facing months of criticism following the hazing death of a marching band member.

James Ammons had submitted a letter last week, stating his resignation would take effect Oct. 11. In exchange for getting paid bonuses, he waived a provision to give 90 days notice to the FAMU board.

Ammons will be paid more than $98,000 in performance bonuses for his last two years in office, and will receive his full presidential salary of more than $341,000 in the next year while he is on sabbatical. He plans eventually to return as a member of the FAMU faculty.

The school governing board, which discussed Ammons' resignation in an emergency phone call, voted in favor of the deal with Ammons and to name FAMU Provost Larry Robinson as interim president.

Robinson had previously served in the Obama administration as assistant secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. He also was briefly the top official in charge of FAMU in 2007, before Ammons was appointed president.

FAMU's board spent more than an hour discussing whether to make Robinson interim president so quickly. Questions remain whether other candidates should be considered, and whether an interim president is eligible to apply for the permanent job.

Both the student body president and the head of FAMU's faculty senate pressed to have Robinson appointed immediately to bring stability to a campus that has been reeling since the November death of Robert Champion.

"I know how jittery the university community is at this time," Narayan Persaud, a FAMU professor, told other board members.

Trustees agreed to take a more formal vote in August. The interim presidency needs approval by the Florida Board of Governors, which oversees the state university system.

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