The Florida Senate recently confirmed seven members of the Florida A&M University Board of Trustees (FAMU BOT). Of those, five trustees are FAMU alumni, and for the first time in the BOT’s current configuration, a majority of the trustees are either FAMU alumni and or students.
Among those confirmed were Otis Cliatt II, Thomas W. Dortch, Jr., Michael Dubose, Kristin Harper, Craig Reed, Kenward Stone II, and Nicole T. Washington. All of the seven except Dortch and Washington are FAMU alumni. The 13-member board also includes FAMU alumnus Kelvin Lawson, the current chairman, and the FAMU Student Government Association (SGA) President Carrington Whigham.
“To have several FAMU alumni serving on our Board of Trustees is a tribute to the quality of the education earned on the ‘Hill’ and the respect they have earned during their productive careers,” said President Larry Robinson, Ph.D. “The achievements and contributions of alumni are the ultimate measures of this institution’s impact. We are blessed that these Rattlers along with other members of the Board have dedicated themselves to ensuring that our legacy of ‘Excellence with Caring’ continues well into the future.”
What do FAMU alumni bring to the BOT?
FAMU alumni bring an intimate familiarity with the historic mission, vision, culture, and contributions of the University and its diverse stakeholders, said Harper, who was first appointed in 2019 to fill an uncompleted term after the departure of Harold Mills. She is the founder and CEO of Driven to Succeed, LLC, which provides market research, brand strategy consulting, keynotes and training on leadership and emotional intelligence for Fortune 500 companies and rising leaders.
“When I was FAMU Student Government Association president, and the first female SGA president in nearly 10 years, I served as a trusted advocate, listening ear, and visionary leader to make FAMU the best it could be. As an alumni, I take this same approach as a Board member,” Harper said. “Given our firsthand knowledge of the challenges and opportunities, FAMU alumni board members are in a unique position to govern through a combination of advocacy, accountability and unwavering commitment. Alumni bring years of industry experience and a global perspective back to the “Hill.”
“Like a favorite auntie or uncle,” Harper continued, “we challenge FAMU to live up to its potential, make an even bigger impact on society, and give tough love when needed to elevate the impact, outcomes, and brand reputation of our beloved alma mater.”
First appointed in 2016, Trustee Reedis the chief procurement officer and head of corporate real estate for Corteva Agriscience. In these roles, he has the unique responsibility to lead the strategy of a procurement division and real estate for a Fortune 200 company that was global on day one.
Reed holds a bachelor’s in economics from FAMU and an MBA with a concentration in supply management from Arizona State University.
When he was appointed to the BOT in October 2020, Trustee Kenward Stone said he saw it as opportunity to “give back to an institution that provided such a transformative experience.”
A resident of Savannah, Georgia, Stone graduated from the FAMU School of Business & Industry (SBI) with a bachelor’s in business administration in 2009 and later completed an MBA at Harvard University. Stone, co-founder and managing partner of SL Group Investors, New York, credited the University for much of his success.
“Florida A&M provided a firm foundation for future growth across all aspects of my life – faith, family, business and community,” said Stone, who added that he was looking forward to “working with all stakeholders and delivering solutions that prepare FAMU for the future, while also maintaining the built-in characteristics that make the University so special.”
Trustee Otis Cliatt, II, president of Pacific Harbor Line, Inc., is believed to be the first African American to lead a North American railroad. A combat veteran and former member of the U.S. Army’s elite Special Operations Command Airborne at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Cliatt earned a bachelor’s in business economics from FAMU and graduated from the University of California Los Angeles Anderson School of Management Executive Program. He said FAMU alumni “bring with them a certain level of pride and dedication for a school they credit for shaping their future.”
“Certainly for myself, the experience of being a student first and then many years later a trustee, permits a wide-ranging perspective and an open mind toward shaping policies and guidelines for the university’s future growth and improvement,” Cliatt said.
Like Cliatt and Harper, Trustee Michael Dubose addressed graduates during the recent commencement ceremonies. Dubose, president of Fisher Healthcare, a division of Thermo Fisher Scientific, a global healthcare business, said being a trustee is a very serious role.
“Serving as a member of the Board of Trustees with fellow alumni and other committed professionals is truly a humbling and wonderful experience,” Dubose said. “I am so proud of the significant role FAMU is playing in producing the next generation of leaders across all industries.”