James Ammons, FAMU president, surprised by a CNN reporter, responding to questions about the 'alleged hazing death' of FAMU student Robert Champion pretty much 'failed the test' of leadership when interviewed. If you were watching the report, aired several times today, and left the facts of this and other pending FAMU scandals aside, you'd still see this breakdown as one in which the buck not only didn't stop with Ammons, it barely slowed down.
According to the reporter, Jason Carroll of CNN, President James Ammons is where the 'buck stops, so to speak''. Ambushing Ammons as he got out of his car, Carroll confronted him on the death of the marching band student, an apparent hazing incident gone horrifically wrong. Ammons tried desperately to stick to the apparently approved script but the opportunity to really stand out, to be a leader for his university, to really teach something about value to his students and the opportunity to possibly to save lives in the future, he failed to grasp.
Ammons's spoke of how "our number one priority is the health, safety and well being of his students", but when Carroll asked, 'Do you bare, personally, any responsibility?', Ammons spun away from really showing care for the university's students' well being. Instead he blew smoke and the buck passed by.
Citing appropriate 'policies and procedures' he deflected the death of this young man to the university system as a whole: "This is a culture, not just here at FAMU, it's on colleges and universities all across America".
When pressed directly with Carroll's question about responsibility, Ammons' ducked again: "I've done everything in accordance to the law here in the state of Florida". For that moment alone, Ammons deserves to be shown the door by the University board before any other youngsters die.
One of the key principals of my coaching work with individuals and businesses is to take 100% responsibility for any and all circumstances; that's where leadership resides. I offer this lesson now to Ammons.
The correct response for a leader, especially one entrusted with the lives of thousands of students, most away from home for the first time in their lives, the answer Ammons should have said was: 'NO. Based on results, whatever I've done is not enough. Based on the results, whatever the laws here in the state of Florida, whatever other universities have done across the country, if ONE student is hurt in this way then we, I mean 'I', have not done enough and from this time forward I'm going to do everything in my power to make sure this never happens again. And I will commit that I will take my case to other colleges and universities across the country until we never, ever have another death of this type in our system'.
It seems at Penn State and Florida that someone is more interested in talking about the situations and avoiding blame rather than taking the higher ground and, considering these are institutions of learning, the lessons are being lost rather easily. And the buck keep speeding past.