Two Maryland educators are finalists in the search for a new president at Florida A&M; University, considered one of the most prestigious historically black colleges in the country.
University of Maryland Eastern Shore President Thelma B. Thompson and the provost of Bowie State University, Patricia P. Ramsey, are among the six potential replacements for President Fred Gainous, who was fired in 2004 amid an accounting scandal and disputes over the school's football program, school officials announced this week.
"It's one of the premier black institutions in America, and I was just humbled when I realized somebody thought I could lead an institution of that size and importance," said Thompson, who has been president of UMES since 2002.
Ramsey became Bowie's provost in 2004, and served as the historically black college's interim president for several months this year, before current President Mickey L. Burnim was appointed.
"I think it would be a great opportunity," she said yesterday. "I feel honored that I was selected a finalist."
Ramsey added, "I love being [at Bowie] and I love the students, but I also know that I'm guided, and as I'm guided, I move to the next place as I'm guided to do."
Both Thompson and Ramsey said they were approached by the Florida A&M; search committee, and did not seek out the position themselves.
Thompson said she had not decided about whether she would leave UMES if offered the Florida job. "I need some time to think about it," she said.
Located in Tallahassee, Florida A&M; has 12,000 students.
Interviews with the six finalists will be conducted Dec. 14 and 15, officials said. Thompson said she believed a decision would be made by March.
The announcement this week comes a month after North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University in Greensboro announced that it has selected Coppin State University President Stanley F. Battle as chancellor.
Battle will leave the Baltimore college next year.