As the nation concluded its celebration of Black History Month, I had the privilege of sharing the rich history of Florida A&M University (FAMU) and the impact of historically Black colleges and universities with former colleagues and students at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tennessee and during events with alumni in Washington, D.C., Orlando, Houston, Los Angeles, and Lakeland. I extend a special thanks to the FAMU Foundation Board of Directors and the FAMU National Alumni Association and its chapters for their support and hospitality.
This week, the Florida legislative session gets underway. We welcome opportunities to share our priorities for this year and solicit support for the men and women who represent us in the Florida Legislature. FAMU’s new governmental affairs director, Barbara Cohen-Pippin, has opened up even more effective channels of communications, which will allow friends, alumni, and FAMU supporters to reach out to appropriate legislators about our priorities.
Sharing the University’s strategic plan for growth and sustainability with diverse audiences is tantamount to ensuring continued success. I invite you to join me in sharing our priorities and many accolades with others and ask that you mark your calendars for FAMU Day at the Capitol in Tallahassee on April 6.
We need your help spreading the word about the great things happening at FAMU every day. In this issue of FAMU Forward, these great things include a story about a proud moment in Rattler history when we cut the ribbon to unveil the future site of the first-ever, 24-hour African- American news network at the School of Journalism & Graphic Communications. It was a timely celebration for Black History Month and a pleasure greeting the owners of the Black Television News Channel, alumni, students, supporters, and elected officials who helped celebrate the historical milestone. We look forward to vetting this proposed partnership through the procedures established by the Florida Board of Governors so that we can present the FAMU Board of Trustees with a strong proposal for their consideration. This event was an opportunity to recommit ourselves to working toward the success of the partnership.
Prior to the ribbon cutting, another FAMU supporter, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, visited the campus on Feb. 20 and shared an inspirational message about the importance of STEM education and the movie, “Hidden Figures.” Speaking of STEM, this issue also includes an enlightening story about two FAMU-FSU College of Engineering faculty members recently recognized for excellence in research by the National Science Foundation.
As our students conclude Spring Break activities this week, I look forward to their safe return and a strong finish for the spring semester. As we prepare to meet the next generation of potential Rattlers during our Spring Preview event on March 25, we continue to place emphasis on student recruiting efforts with several events planned across the state of Florida and nation. We recently completed two successful events at Tallahassee Community College and Santa Fe College.
Please remember the important roles we have in promoting the best our University has to offer. Increasing FAMU’s enrollment and graduation rates, retaining our students, and hiring outstanding faculty remain high priorities as outlined in a draft of a new strategic plan that was presented to our trustees on Feb. 20.
To continue providing the quality education and training that our students deserve, we need your help. We are preparing to launch a major fundraising campaign. I hope that all University supporters plan to contribute to the campaign and ask others to make a donation. In addition to producing scholarships, we need additional funding that will enable us to increase endowed chairs or endowed professorships that will help attract the nation’s best students and faculty members.
Please keep in mind that no contribution, whether it’s calling on lawmakers or mentoring a FAMU student, is too small to make a positive difference for FAMU. What matters most is that you give what you can, when you can, and that you encourage others and your employers to do the same.
FAMU remains an example of what is possible when ordinary people dream big thoughts and are willing to make the necessary sacrifices to turn those dreams into extraordinary accomplishments. We are proud of our impact in helping students to discover their purpose and live out their passion. Our commitment to “Excellence with Caring” is just one of our many contributions that have helped Florida to recently be named the No. 1 state for higher education by U.S. News & World Report.
Let us continue to dedicate ourselves to dreaming and sacrificing together for the benefit of FAMU!