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Florida A&M picks Cornell administrator as first woman president

TALLAHASSEE, Fla (Reuters) - The Florida A&M University board of trustees selected a Cornell University administrator Thursday to become the troubled institution's first permanent woman president.

Elmira Mangum, vice president for planning and budgeting at Cornell's Ithaca, New York campus, is also the first non-FAMU graduate in 56 years to become permanent president of the state's only historically black state school. The board intends to negotiate a contract with Mangum and have her in place by August, when the fall semester starts.

She succeeds interim president Larry Robinson, a veteran FAMU administrator who took over when former President James Ammons resigned in July 2012. Ammons' tenure was marked by the beating death of a drum major, Robert Champion, in a "hazing" incident after the 2011 Florida Classic football game in Orlando.

FAMU recently got off a one-year probation imposed by its accrediting agency, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, for faulty administrative oversight and management controls. Robinson did not apply for the presidency, despite several expressions of support by faculty and alumni.

After Mangum, 60, was selected by the board, Robinson expressed support for her and said he did not know what role he would have at the university.

"I am a change agent," Mangum said after her selection. "My history has been dealing with challenges."

Mangum, who is black, did not state any immediate goals but said she wanted to strengthen FAMU's academic programs.

FAMU's first female leader was Castell Bryant, who served as interim president from 2005 to 2007, before Ammons was selected. It was specified when Bryant was appointed that she would not be a candidate for the permanent presidency.

(Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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