By Larry Robinson, Ph.D.
As legions of alumni and supporters converge on Tallahassee to join students, faculty, staff and friends for Florida A&M University’s Homecoming 2023: The Experience, “Forever Rattlers: A Timeless Tradition,”it is our hope that the festivities will be safe, enjoyable, and filled with excitement. We are so fortunate to be part of FAMU’s legacy of “Excellence with Caring”and Homecoming is one of those precious times that bind our community together as a FAMUly.
Given the threats faced by other Historically Black College and Universities (HBCUs) this Homecoming season, we are urging everyone – students, faculty, staff, alumni, and all supporters to play an active role in ensuring a safe Homecoming week. Please be aware of your surroundings. Our maxim: If you should “see something, say something.” We all must play a role in protecting each other. There is so much at stake.
Our Homecoming is a significant boon to the local economy with high rates of occupancy in hotels in Leon, Gadsden, and Wakulla counties and neighboring South Georgia. Area restaurants, department stores, small businesses, and street vendors will also benefit from the large crowds eager to utilize their services.
Interest in FAMU is at an all-time high. We received nearly 22,000 applications for this fall semester of 2023. The academic profile of incoming freshmen reflects one of the most academically talented classes ever, with students boasting a 3.94 incoming GPA on a 4.0 scale, an 1140 total SAT score, and a 24 composite ACT score.
Over the last three months, FAMU has registered more than 11 million impressions on Instagram indicating that people are paying attending to what is going on our campus.
We have given them some good reasons to pay attention. The 2024 U.S. News & World Report ranked FAMU among the Top 100 National Public Universities, rising from No.103 to No.91. For the fifth consecutive year, FAMU is the highest ranked public Historically Black College and University (HBCU), and we are ranked No. 3 among all HBCUs, public and private.
FAMU is ranked No. 21 on the Social Mobility Index, a measure of the University’s ability to transform the economic trajectory of our students, alumni, and their families. The Wall Street Journal also has ranked FAMU among its Top 10 schools for career preparation of our students, in fact, we are tied for sixth place. There is tremendous value in a FAMU education. This will be demonstrated this week as we celebrate an impressive array of “40 Under 40” graduates who are making an impact across the country before they reach the age of 40.
Additionally, FAMU has made the transformation to online learning to offer opportunities for those whose lives and employment make in-person class attendance difficult or impossible. FAMU has increased its online course offerings to 678 up from 361 before the COVID-19 pandemic upended our world. We have expanded the number of online degree programs to 13 with more to come.
We are tireless in our efforts to ensure an excellent student experience. Our Board of Trustees approved a plan for new University residential housing that could boost the number of on-campus beds to more than 4,000 within the next few several years.
FAMU also recently accepted an invitation to join the Florida Lambda Rail’s Board of Directors. With our elevation to board member status, we experienced a tenfold increase in campus wireless connectivity and research capacity from 10 Gigabytes to 100 Gigabytes per second. 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. Upgrading our infrastructure is part of the push toward Carnegie Research-1 status.
Our faculty garnered $96.4 million in funding- another record in research awards – for the fiscal year ending June 30. We had another record-breaking year in fundraising, receiving $25.7 million in donations, evidence of the level of support and confidence from our corporate partners, foundations, employees, alumni, and friends.
We are winning on and off the field. At this weekend’s Homecoming game against Prairie View A&M University, the Rattlers are seeking to extend the nation’s second longest football home winning streak. Please join us at the newly designated Ken Riley Field at Bragg Memorial Stadium honoring Pro Football Hall of Fame Inductee, Ken Riley, one of our all-time great student athletes, coaches, and administrators. Earlier this week, I was privileged to witness our FAMU Women’s Cross-Country team winning its first SWAC Championship at the conference finals held at the nationally recognized Apalachee Regional Park this week.
Homecoming is one of the most exciting times of year at FAMU and for our entire Tallahassee/Leon County community. Let us enjoy every minute of it and help protect each other by paying keen attention to our surroundings. Welcome home Rattlers!