Florida A&M University President Larry Robinson, Ph.D., lauded the University’s upward trajectory and successes as new students, faculty, and staff were immersed into the Rattler spirit at the annual President’s Convocation.
“I am excited as we begin the fall semester. To the Class of 2027, transfer students, and returning Rattlers, “Welcome to the ‘Hill,’” Robinson said. “We believe in your potential and already know you will be successful because student success is at the core of what we do. You don’t have to prove it to us. We expect that you will work hard, enjoy your college experience, finish in four years or so, and go out into the world, pursue your dreams, and make your mark.”
He also told the cheering Lawson Center audience that the Wall Street Journal just announced that FAMU ranked No. 6 nationally for career preparation, based on a survey of students and recent alumni.
Among those introduced during the two-hour ceremony were the widow, children, and relatives of the 2023 Professional Football Hall of Fame inductee Ken Riley. The Riley family was on campus ahead of the Saturday ceremony to rename the football field in honor of the Rattler former standout quarterback, head football coach and athletic director, and Cincinnati Bengal defensive back.
During his 15-minute address, Robinson announced that FAMU had signed an agreement to join the Florida Lambda Rail’s (FLR) Board of Directors, which is accompanied by an upgrade in the campus internet connectivity to 100 gigs per second from 10 GPS. The move bolsters the campus’ research capacity and helps move the University closer to the Carnegie Research 1 classification.
“This announcement is another step toward achieving that goal. We are well on our way. It’s Our Time,” Robinson said to applause. “The connection to FLR’s advanced fiber-optic network infrastructure will provide the University’s faculty, staff, and students with lightning-fast connectivity and seamless communication channels.”
FAMU enjoyed another record year in research awards for the fiscal year ending June 30. FAMU garnered $96.4 million in funding. It was also another record year for fundraising, which reached $25.7 million.
“This new record indicates how much our stakeholders are invested in the success of the University, thanks to the generosity of our corporate partners, alumni, faculty, staff, students, and other supporters who also believe that ‘It’s Our Time,’” Robinson said. “This marks three consecutive record-breaking fundraising years.”
A strong fundraising campaign is tied to student success, a key metric under the State University System’s Performance-Based Funding Model. FAMU saw First-Time-in-College (FTIC) Pell Grant Recipient Six-Year Graduation Rate increase from 52.0 percent to 57.4 percent. Over the last three years, the percentage of bachelor’s graduates enrolled or employed one year post-graduation has increased from 60.1 to 67.8 percent, Robinson told the audience.
Robinson said FAMU students continue to secure employment or enroll in graduate or professional schools. Among the encouraging news, annual median wages for bachelor’s graduates employed full-time increased from $37,000 to $39,500.
“Interestingly, in 2017-2018, five (5) percent of our course sections were offered online. Of course, this spiked to 71 percent in 2020-2021 due to COVID-19-related operations, but in 2021-2022, the percentage stands at 25 percent,” Robinson said.
FAMU educates more Pell Grant recipients than any other institution in the Florida State University System; the average household income is less than $50,000, and many are the first in their families to attend college.
“They need our help, and by doing so, they will understand the importance of giving back themselves,” said Robinson, who touted FAMU’s 23 ranking on the US News and World Report Social Mobility Index as the best indication of the University’s ability to transform the economic trajectory of graduates and their families.
“By any measure, this has been an incredible year. We have established a culture of compliance and excellence, and the results have been amazing. However, we can’t rest on our laurels. We must continue to make it “our time” by “Striking Boldly, Striking Forward, and Striking Together,” Robinson said. “FAMU’s relevance is determined by what we do. The FAMU brand is strong, and we must never forget the good works of those who came before us,” Robinson said. “The University’s future is squarely in our collective hands. So, let’s make 2023-2024 our best year ever.”