Copyright 2013 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
A regional accrediting agency removed Florida A&M University from probation Tuesday, two years after the hazing death of drum major and metro Atlanta native Robert Champion.
The decision by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools places the school back in good standing. FAMU had been on a yearlong probation for issues stemming from Champion's death, as well as problems with financial mismanagement and leadership.
In a statement posted on the school's website Tuesday, interim president Larry Robinson thanked students, faculty and staff for helping turn things around.
The news came as a relief to the school's local alumni association president, James McLemore.
"Now we can move forward and restore the university back to normal," he said.
FAMU's local alumni association has 140 active members, and about 3,000 alumni live in the metro Atlanta area, McLemore estimated.
Champion's parents and their attorney Christopher Chestnut did not return requests for comment.
Champion, a member of FAMU's famed "Marching 100" band, was killed in November 2011 during a hazing ritual. Several band members were criminally charged in the case, and the band's longtime director abruptly retired in May 2012 after fighting for months to keep his job.
The band was reinstated in June of this year over the objections of Champion's parents, who maintained that a culture of hazing still existed at the university. University officials said the school has worked to change that culture by revising its anti-hazing and student conduct policies, hosting student forums on hazing and establishing an anti-hazing website.
Also Tuesday, three Georgia colleges --- Armstrong Atlantic State University in Savannah, Columbia Theological Seminary and LaGrange College --- had their accreditation reaffirmed.
The accreditation actions came during SACS' annual meeting in downtown Atlanta.
An update on the status of Georgia Perimeter College was not on the agency's agenda Tuesday. That update is expected at the group's meeting in June, said SACS president Belle Wheelan. Until then the school remains on a "warning" status.
The group first sanctioned Georgia Perimeter last December after reports surfaced of the school's $25 million budget shortfall amid overspending and mismanagement. A state auditor's report on the college's 2013 fiscal year performance is expected within the next few weeks.
A full report of Tuesday's accreditation actions will be posted on the agency's website next week.
The death of Robert Champion of Decatur reverberated throughout metro Atlanta, where several high schools have strong ties to the FAMU band program.