By Larry Robinson, Ph.D.
“FAMU Day at the Capitol” is an annual reminder of the special bond that exists with the Florida Legislature, the citizens who elected them, and Florida A&M University. It is also a time to enlighten legislators, alumni and supporters of what is needed during the 2020 Florida Legislative Session to sustain and enhance educational programs and services that contribute to the success of our students, economic development and the wellbeing of communities and the preservation of ecological treasures.
I am grateful to the members of the Florida Legislature, our Board of Trustees, alumni and all stakeholders who helped to secure our 2019 legislative priorities, including the request for $24.8 million to complete the Center for Access and Student Success (CASS).
Even now, the skyline of our Tallahassee main campus is being altered by the 73,000- square-foot building that will house all key student services under one roof. CASS is foundational to our top strategic priority – student success.
We are making progress and view our current 2020 legislative priorities as strategic investments that will reap great returns. We are committed to attracting high achieving students, helping them graduate in four years, preparing them for successful careers and inspiring them to enrich the communities in which they live. We expect every graduate to be the embodiment of our motto, “Excellence with Caring.” We are just as committed to expanding pathways to FAMU for students from the Florida College System by directing more resources to our “FAMU IGNITE” transfer program.
We are also asking legislators for a recurring allocation to continue to attract additional faculty and students to the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering; introduce new courses and degrees to this unique joint program; and provide state-of-the-art facilities to leverage research grants and contracts from government agencies, corporations and foundations.
Top Legislative Priorities:
$15 million for Strategic Investments to Increase Student Success
$6.5 million for Integrated Advancement for the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering
$2.2 million for the Brooksville Agricultural and Environmental Research Station
$1.5 million for the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences Peaden Education Center
The FAMU-FSU College of Engineering is the only engineering school in the country that provides exceptional research educational opportunities to a student population that reflects the demographics of Florida and our nation. Recently, we were reminded of the caliber of engineering students we graduate when Boeing Fellow Nathan Brooks, the college’s first recipient of a doctorate in electrical engineering, returned to campus to inspire the current generation of scholars to follow in his footsteps.
For the 2019-2020 academic year, FAMU received approximately 11,000 applications, a record. However, the 1,345 first-time-in-college undergraduate students enrolled last fall was one of the smallest cohorts in several years.
This cohort had an average 3.55 GPA, the highest in recent history. That is no accident. In order to meet our strategic goals and the performance metrics instituted by the Florida Board of Governors, we have had to elevate the profile of students admitted to the university. We have done this while also establishing a pathway through the IGNITE transfer program and by working with stakeholders to help students and parents understand what is needed to join the ranks of our student body.
We believe in the innate ability of every applicant and anticipate their eventual success. Their success is essential to our success. Our success is critical to Florida maintaining a diverse and talented workforce, eliminating economic disparities, and creating a future that continues to make all of us proud to be Floridians.
It is in this spirit that we solicit your support of our 2020 Legislative Budget Request.
We cannot do it alone.
Larry Robinson, Ph.D., is the president of Florida A&M University. Feb. 6 is FAMU Day at the Capitol.