Florida A&M University Provost Larry Robinson will take over the duties of president of the school following a unanimous vote Monday of the university trustees, which an hour earlier had accepted the immediate resignation of President James Ammons.
Under scrutiny since the hazing death of Marching 100 drum major Robert Champion, Ammons stepped down Monday instead of waiting until October as he proposed last week when he first tendered his resignation to the FAMU Board of Trustees.
Ammons had planned on staying on for 90 days but instead will go on sabbatical and then return to the university as a tenured professor.
The board appointed Robinson, a popular administrator among faculty and staff, to replace Ammons, but will return in August to decide whether Robinson stays on officially as interim president until a permanent president is found.
"I think FAMU right now needs immediate stability," said Trustee Marissa West, the FAMU student body president. "I don't think we can afford to be left vulnerable and I think we need to ensure a very smooth transition in the upcoming days, months, weeks."
But some trustees questioned why they were acting so quickly.
"We haven't made any monumental decisions like this. We couldn't make a decision when someone was killed," trustee Rufus Montgomery said.
Champion, 26, died on a band charter bus in November after the university's renowned Marching 100 band traveled from its Tallahassee campus to Orlando to participate in the annual "Battle of the Bands" and the "Florida Classic" football game between two historically black universities.
Officials determined he died after being hazed.
Thirteen band members have been charged in Champion's death. Of those, 11 face felony hazing charges and could face up to six years in prison. Two others were charged with misdemeanors.
The school has also come under scrutiny for a number of other problems, some related to graduation, retention and enrollment rates, some related to accounting irregularities, and allegations of sexual assault at the university's affiliated elementary-middle-high school.
As part of the termination agreement, Ammons will receive a 25 percent bonus for his performance during the 2010/11 school year based on an outside evaluation.
Ammons will also receive a 5 percent bonus for meeting mutually agreed upon goals for the 2011/12 academic year. As president, Ammons' base salary was about $325,000.
Ammons who was on the conference call did not speak except to accept the resignation agreement.
"Dr. Ammons, Are you on the line?," Trustee chairman Solomon Badger asked.
"I am," Ammons said. .
"Is this an acceptable next step for you?," Solomon followed.
"It is, yes," Ammons said.
Trustees urged Robinson to move quickly to address concerns raised over the past several months.
In the wake of Champion's death, the band has been suspended for at least the next academic year. The university's athletics department is also facing a major budget deficit.
"There are some things that need to be changed," said Trustee Kelvin Lawson. "I don't think we want a status quo agenda. "