Tallahassee, Florida - Florida A&M University moves to turn the page on a sad chapter in the school's history with the hiring of a new anti-hazing coordinator.
FAMU has hired Bryan Smith to serve as the special assistant to the president for anti-hazing. He has a master's degree from FAMU in public management and a law degree from John Marshall Law School.
FAMU Interim President Larry Robinson says Smith has his work cut out for him. Smith will oversee all law enforcement, student and administrative efforts against hazing on campus.
The FAMU Marching 100 remains suspended following the hazing-related death of Robert Champion in November, 2011.
Robinson believes the hiring of Smith will help FAMU finally move past its troubled history with hazing.
"We've been working hard on this for a year, as you know, but this is one of the critical positions that we think will help us launch into a new era, a new chapter so to speak on anti-hazing efforts."
Smith competed for the job with about 60 other candidates. His job is one of three new positions designed to eradicate a longstanding culture of hazing at FAMU.
The university is still looking for a new band director, as well as a band compliance officer to enforce eligibility rules for band members.
This week FAMU's effort to hire a band director fell apart, so that search is starting over. Robinson says he doesn't know if the university will be in a position to reinstate the band by next fall.
"I wouldn't want to make any predictions about that at this time because there's so many things we're going to need to do before we get that decision."
Four years ago, the Marching 100 performed at the inauguration of President Obama. Robinson says it would have been great to see the band at next week's inauguration.
"Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could all be there. I was there in '09, freezing. I'll be there Monday, freezing again. It would be great to have all of the students, in fact, we will have quite a number of students going this year with the appropriate amount of chaperons. (laughs) But there will be other opportunities for this great band to participate in events of that type in the future."
The beating death of Champion aboard a band bus led to criminal charges against 12 students, the retirement of longtime band director Julian White, the resignation of President James Ammons, strict new rules for band members and prompted an accrediting group to place the school on probation.