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Florida A&M University received a $237.75 million stock gift from Gregory Gerami, the CEO of Batterson Farms Corp. The announcement of the donation was made during the university’s commencement ceremony, garnering significant attention as one of the largest personal donations to a historically Black college or university. However, concerns arose regarding the actual value of the stock gift and the legitimacy of the donation. This led to an emergency meeting where FAMU President Larry Robinson announced that the decision regarding the donation was put on hold pending further information.
In a report by Politico, it was highlighted that Batterson Farms Corp. is a relatively small company, and its private shares are unlikely to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars. In addition, Gerami had previously been involved in a failed $95 million donation deal with Coastal Carolina University, where he later backed out alleging racism from university officials. These incidents raised doubts about the credibility of Gerami’s donation to FAMU.
FAMU board members expressed their frustrations during the emergency meeting, highlighting concerns about the vetting process and the lack of transparency surrounding Gerami’s donation. Some board members were not informed about the donation until it was announced at commencement, leading to calls for an independent investigation into the transaction. Board Chair Kristin Harper acknowledged the serious concerns raised regarding the validity of the gift and the oversight processes by the Foundation Board and Board of Trustees.
Despite FAMU’s claims of completing due diligence, questions arose about the transparency and oversight in the vetting process of Gerami’s donation. A non-disclosure agreement issued by Gerami prevented officials from disclosing details to the university’s board members. The lack of transparency and oversight raised concerns about the potential impact on FAMU’s reputation and the need to restore faith among alumni and supporters.
Gerami declined to comment on the situation when reached by CNN and referred questions to the university. FAMU’s Special Board of Trustees has scheduled a meeting to discuss the donation on May 15, aiming to address the concerns raised and determine the next steps regarding the gift. The university’s communications department did not respond to detailed questions about the gift and the vetting process, further adding to the uncertainty surrounding the situation. The outcome of the meeting and any further developments regarding the donation will likely determine the impact on FAMU’s reputation and relationship with donors and supporters.

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