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Senate approves funding to split FAMU-FSU engineering school


Amid conflicting reports about where Florida A&M University stands on the issue, the Senate agreed to fund a proposal to create a new, separate engineering school at Florida State University.

Sen. Arthenia Joyner, a FAMU alumna who spoke passionately against the measure, later said she would support the larger budget that contains the FSU funding because of promises made by Sen. John Thrasher during debate.

He reported that FAMU's brand new president -- Elmira Mangum has been on the job two days -- met with FSU interim president Garnett Stokes this morning and agreed to iron out a "memorandum of understanding" determining how the break would occur. The Legislature would abide by whatever that memo contains, Thrasher said.

Earlier, Joyner had opposed Thrasher's amendment to increase FSU's funding for a new engineering school from $10 million to $13 million. That amendment passed on a voice vote. Even with that money included in the budget, Joyner, a Tampa Democrat, voted "yes."

"I'm going to support this budget today, but I'll be here until the end, God willing," Joyner said. "If things work differently, then action in the future will be different. But today I'm going with it based on the word of two gentlemen whom I respect."

Joyner was referring to Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, and Senate budget chief Joe Negron, R-Stuart.

Minutes after the Senate approved the budget 38-2, a FAMU spokeswoman told the Times/Herald that Mangum had not agreed to draft a "memorandum of understanding" with FSU.

Procedurally speaking, this is now a budget conference issue that will need to be ironed out between House and Senate leaders in the coming weeks. Funding to split the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering into two separate entities is not contained in the House version of the budget.