The founding dean of Florida A&M University’s (FAMU) School of Allied Health Sciences Jacqueline Beck, Ph.D., is being remembered as a strong, kind and steadfast leader and national trailblazer. Beck passed on October 31. Her funeral is scheduled for Friday, November 10 at 11 a.m., at Bethel Missionary Baptist Church located at 224 N. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd., in Tallahassee.
To commemorate her many contributions and dedication to the University, in 2007, the building that houses FAMU’s Allied Health Sciences programs (Lewis-Beck Building) was named in her honor along with the late nursing school dean Margaret Lewis, Ph.D.
FAMU’s Interim President Larry Robinson, Ph.D., recalled Beck’s unique qualities that led to the establishment of Allied Health programs at FAMU.
“Dean Beck’s keen intellect and administrative skills established her as a national leader in higher education and propelled our Allied Health Sciences program to be among the best in the nation,” said Robinson. “Her dedication and commitment to her students, faculty and staff were exceeded only by her love of her family, FAMU, and the Tallahassee community.”
Beck began her career at FAMU in 1958 as a nursing instructor and eventually became an associate professor and acting dean of the School of Nursing. In 1978, FAMU’s former president, Walter L. Smith, Ph.D., entrusted Beck with developing the proposal that led to the creation of the School of Allied Health Sciences in 1982. Beck served as dean of the School of Allied Health Sciences until 2000.
The school evolved from two divisions, the Division of Medical Records Administration and Physical Therapy to five divisions, offering bachelor’s degrees in cardiopulmonary science, healthcare management, health information management, occupational therapy and physical therapy and a master’s in physical therapy by 2000.
An article chronicling the 2007 Allied Health building naming ceremony captured Beck’s passion for her profession in this quote: “If you see Webster’s dictionary, it tells you that a citadel holds precious commodities. That is just perfect for what we are doing today. We are not naming a building but a citadel.”
Dean Cynthia Hughes Harris, Ph.D., succeeded Beck and described her as a savvy and sophisticated leader.
“I’ve stood on her shoulders,” Harris said. “She laid the groundwork and foundation, and all we had to do was build on it.”
As she built her team, physical therapist and FAMU assistant professor Bernard Smothers said Beck was meticulous, personable and accessible.
“She got to know if you were a caring person, and that’s how she got the right people in the right positions. She will be sorely missed,” said Smothers.
Harris said Beck filled a void as a co-founder of the National Society of Allied Health Professions, an organization for historically Black colleges and universities with schools or programs of allied health.
Beck was a native of Gulfport, Mississippi. She lived in Tallahassee for more than 50 years and earned her Doctorate of Education from the University of Florida in 1976. She earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing from Dillard University and a master’s degree in nursing from Indiana University.