Florida A&M University President Larry Robinson, Ph.D., said the institution’s rise from a one-room school with two instructors and 15 students to becoming the highest-ranked public Historically Black College and University (HBCU) with nearly 10,000 students across campuses throughout Florida is an accomplishment worth celebrating.
“We celebrate the courage and vision our founders, and the dedication of every faculty, staff, student, and alumni who contributed to the well-being of this institution throughout its 135-year journey. We celebrate the dawn of a new future replete with the optimism of many more successful years to come,” Robinson said at a Monday morning wreath-laying ceremony to mark Founders’ Day.
“Can you imagine how proud our founders are as they look upon us from above at what has been achieved along our journey,” Robinson asked. “They would be proud of our historic and ongoing battle against injustice and as our mission statement today states: they would be proud of our commitment to enhance the lives of its constituents and empower communities through innovative teaching, research, scholarship, partnerships, and public service.”
Addressing the gathering of faculty, staff and students, Robinson said FAMU, founded on Oct. 3, 1887, as the State Normal School for Colored Students, has set its sights on becoming one of the top 100 public universities in America as well as being a Carnegie Research 1 university.
“It is both remarkable and amazing how far FAMU has come from its early existence to this present time. This land once served as a plantation. A place where darkness prevailed,” Robinson said. “Today, this is the site where hope, love and charity rule the day and is blanketed by the comforting light and warmth of the Eternal Flame. We must never take any of this for granted. We must now focus on our future, one in which our successes will continue as we work together to achieve our institutional mission and pursue our vision to be recognized as a leading national public university that is internationally renowned for its competitive graduates, transformative research, and innovation.”
This year’s Founders’ Day observance was accentuated by a performance of the University Recommitment Responsive Reading interspersed with verses of “Lift Every Voice,” the Black National Anthem by Theatre Department students.
Student Government President Zachary C. Bell called the 135th anniversary “a full circle moment” given where FAMU’s humble origins.
“Our founders are smiling down on us,” said Bell, a fourth-year business student from Jacksonville, Florida. “I can’t wait to see the great things that are coming from FAMU.”