Photo Credit: Tori Schneider/Tallahassee Democrat/USA Today Network
Florida A&M University (FAMU) President Larry Robinson Ph.D., hosted Gov. Ron DeSantis and elected officials for a preview of the student services building now under construction.
The event was held to provide DeSantis and state legislative leaders a first-hand look at the Center for Student Access and Success (CASS) building, which will be foundational to the University’s efforts to improve student retention and graduation rates.
In welcoming his guests, President Robinson thanked the governor, House and Senate leadership, the Florida Black Caucus, members of the FAMU Board of Trustees and local elected officials for their support.
“This building is more than just a building to us; it’s something more essential – student success,” said Robinson, who was joined at the podium by Senate President Bill Galvano, Senator Bill Montford, Rep. Randy Fine, Rep. Ramon Alexander and Rep. Byron Donalds, both FAMU alumni, Rep. Dianne Hart, Rep. Wengay Newton, Rep. Delores Hogan Johnson and FAMU Trustee Kim Moore.
In his remarks, Robinson referred to the Foote-Hilyer building, the former Black hospital, where many of the student services are now provided.
“We think our students deserve a lot more. This facility will allow us to provide the kinds of services that are essential for us to maintain the rankings we have gotten recently as one of the nation’s top historically Black colleges and universities. FAMU is on the rise,” Robinson continued. “And the numbers tell the story. However, the services we provide to our students is the most critical part of what we are gathered here today to celebrate in advance. The academic profile of our students is increasing, but at the same time we see the need to continue to provide the services that are necessary for them to be successful.”
The nearly $40 million, three-story, 73,000-square-foot complex is being completed with $24.8 million allocated by the Legislature in 2019.
“This is an exciting day. This is a major milestone in the completion of this facility and it solidifies the goal of consolidating student services in one location,” DeSantis told the gathering. “Just last week, there was a small business study done and Florida is No. 3 in the nation for Black entrepreneurship. FAMU, what you are doing here, is going to be part of fueling that. We really want to keep that going. We want to be the best state for that. We want to be No. 1. We will work with FAMU and we will work with the Legislature to expand opportunities for folks.”
Before announcing the tour of the complex, Vice President of Finance and Administration Alan Robertson, Ph.D., said the building is 50 percent finished and “will be substantially complete by August 10 and open in mid-September.”
“Functional operations from seven buildings – Student Affairs, Registration, Enrollment Management, Housing, Cashier, Student Financial Services, Veterans Affairs, the Health Center, Student Success Center and Parking Services- will be consolidated to make student enrollment, registration and other business processes seamless and all in one location,” Robertson said.