At 10:10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 3, Florida A&M University will pause to acknowledge 133 years since the institution was founded as the State Normal College for Colored Students.
Larry Robinson, Ph.D., the 12th FAMU president, will mark Founders’ Day and pay homage to the pioneers who created what is now, according to U.S. News & World Report, the top-ranked public historically Black college and university (HBCU).
A wreath laying ceremony will be held at the Eternal Flame. Because of the global pandemic, Saturday’s gathering will be a small affair. Fred Gainous, Ph.D., is the only former president expected to participate in the ceremony.
Maurice Edington, Ph.D., provost and vice president of Academic Affairs, SGA President and Trustee Xavier McClinton, and SGA Vice President Carrington Whigham will also participate in the ceremony to remember the founders, Thomas V.R. Gibbs and Nathan B. Young and others.
The names of all the FAMU presidents will also be invoked during the 30-minute event.
“Founders’ Day is an occasion for celebration and reflection. We can celebrate our accomplishments that attest to how far we have come and reflect on the responsibility we yet have to influence the future through our work as an institution,” President Robinson said. “We should be humbled by the privilege we have to serve our students and respect the dignity of everyone we employ. We cannot be deterred even by the challenges we face during the COVID-19 pandemic and the social unrest throughout our nation.”
The school that first opened its doors to 15 students and two instructors on October 3, 1887 has grown to 9,189 undergraduate and graduate students. The one-building school on Copeland Street has evolved into a 422-acre campus on one of Tallahassee’s “highest of the seven hills.”
In 1910, what was then Florida Agricultural & Mechanical College for Negroes (FAMC), issued its first degrees to the school’s first official graduates. In 1953, the institution became Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU).
Over the past 110 years since that first degree, FAMU has grown to 14 colleges and schools with more than 80,000 alumni spread across the globe.
Alumni excel in all facets of business, culture, politics and science. They include Microsoft’s John Thompson and Converse’s Scott Uzzell, movie mogul Will Packer, best-selling author Ibram X. Kendi, award-winning actress Anika Noni Rose, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, St. Paul, Minnesota, Mayor Melvin Carter, and world-renowned surgeon, the late Dr. LaSalle Lefall, Jr.
Today, FAMU offers 54 bachelor’s degrees, 29 master’s degrees, one professional degree, and 12 doctoral degrees.
The 2021 U.S. News & World Report Rankings of Best Colleges and Universities tell the story that after 133 years, FAMU is still rising.
#117 among National Public Universities, up six places
#Highest ranked Public HBCU among National Universities
#6 among Florida State University System (SUS) institutions
#20 Social Mobility among National Universities
#3 Among Florida SUS institutions for Social Mobility
#FAMU-FSU College of Engineering ranked #69 among undergraduate engineering schools issuing doctoral degrees
#FAMU-FSU College of Engineering ranked second among Florida engineering schools.