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N.C. Central Chancellor a Finalist for Florida A&M Post

Posted December 7, 2006

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— State and local officials are trying to hold onto North Carolina Central University Chancellor James Ammons, who is on the short list to become president of Florida A&M University.

Ammons graduated from Florida A&M and worked as provost at the school before assuming the top spot at N.C. Central five years ago.

Since his arrival in 2001, enrollment has jumped by 58 percent, making N.C. Central one of the fastest growing campuses in the University of North Carolina system. The school also has enjoyed a $120 million building boom and has moved its athletic programs into the NCAA's Division I under Ammons' leadership.

"We've had tremendous success at North Carolina Central," he said. "This is certainly a tough situation for my family and me."

Durham Mayor Bill Bell called Ammons a solid leader and credits him with calming the N.C. Central community last spring after a student accused three Duke University lacrosse players of raping her at a party.

"He's tried to involve himself in the community," Bell said. "It was the leadership on the part of Chancellor Ammons and (Duke President) Richard Brodhead that helped with the cohesiveness that took place in the community."

Some people said one of Ammons' best traits is that he's in tune with those around him.

"He's really easy to talk to. He listens and takes time to get to know his students," student La-Tia Williams said.

Florida A&M officials said they don't expect to make a decision and an offer until early next year.

But UNC President Erskine Bowles has already let Ammons know how much he is wanted in North Carolina and at N.C. Central, a spokeswoman for Bowles said.

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