‘Mistakes were made’ in handling $237 million donation, Florida A&M president says

‘Mistakes were made’ in handling $237 million donation, Florida A&M president says

Florida A&M University’s president admitted “mistakes were made” in the handling of an alleged $237 million stock gift to the school from a Texas businessman amid concerns over the true value of the donation.

Dr. Larry Robinson told the university’s board of trustees at a special meeting, “I want it to be real and ignore some of the warning signs along the way.”

Robinson said he recommended last week that the university end its involvement with the donor, CEO of Batterson Farms Corp. Gregory Gerami. He also told the board of the school’s financial arm, the Florida A&M Foundation, that the school was pausing on the gift.

The donation was “temporarily suspended” after media reports and college board leaders raised concerns about the true value of the stock gift – and the details surrounding the donor’s previous donation.

A report from Politico says Batterson Farms is a relatively small company, and its private equity is unlikely to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

In 2020, an important deal involving a donor later identified as Gerami fell through. The University of South Carolina announced a $95 million donation from an anonymous donor, who then withdrew a few months later. An investigation by the Myrtle Beach Sun News identified Gerami as the donor in a story that stated, among other details, that he rejected accusations of racism from CCU officials – an allegation they denied.

Dr. Shawnta Friday-Stroud, one of the signatories of the agreement between the university and Gerami accepting the gift, has resigned as vice president of university advancement, according to Robinson.

Friday-Stroud will continue at the university as dean of the School of Business and Industry.

“I fully support your decision to stop this transaction. Only hope that the decision will be made within the six months spent developing the prize and before the public announcement,” said Board Chair Kristin Harper.

“I take full responsibility for this and the consequences,” Robinson said.

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