Florida A&M University is working toward a better recruitment plan to attract a more diverse student body.
On the Nov. 2, 2005, a general faculty Microsoft PowerPoint presentation was posted to the FAMU Web site by University Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Debra Austin, it was noted that there has been a loss of student diversity at FAMU. As a result, Vincent June, vice president of student affairs, is striving to create a better systematic approach to recruit a variety of students.
FAMU was founded in 1887 as the State Normal College for Colored Students and remains today a predominately black college.
But as colleges around the nation are evolving and becoming more competitive, some students feel that FAMU should have a more diversified student body.
June doesn’t know why there has been a decline in diversity at FAMU, but said he is working on a recruitment plan that will be looking at the different segments in the student body, to develop baseline data to give guidance to the colleges.
Tasha Gordon, 19, a sophomore elementary education student from Fort Lauderdale said, “Every other college is changing. FAMU doesn’t get to do as much as other schools. Because we’re a HBCU, people might look down on us.”
“I feel (FAMU) could be a more diversified university,” said Jerome Falconer, 21, a junior elementary education student from Brooklyn, N.Y. “Maybe if we had more media coverage people could see what the school is capable of.”
Falconer also said that the programs at FAMU don’t have the accreditation they deserve and that some students might be discouraged by the financial aid situation.
So what does the university plan to do about the reputation FAMU is maintaining? As part of the recruitment efforts, June hopes to target students who reflect a variety of backgrounds and experiences.
“I look at diversity from more than just a race,” June said. He wants to distinguish what type of student FAMU brings to the university.
Throughout the recruitment process the university will be looking for students of various criteria, not just race but of “scholarship and merit, civic and community involvement, geographic regions, and first-generation in college.”
Many students who attend FAMU feel that the university offers great educational programs for students from any background.
Matt Douglas, 20, a second year pharmacy student from Live Oak said he came to FAMU for the “caliber of the school more than the surroundings. Pharmacy is a great program.” It is nationally recognized as a top pharmacy program.
His decision to attend FAMU wasn’t at all based on the fact he would be a minority at a historically black university.
Neil Patel, 19, a second year pharmacy student from Tampa did not let FAMU’s historically black reputation weigh in when he decided to attend the university. He said he would recommend students of diverse backgrounds to attend FAMU.
Patel said that in the beginning he felt like a minority and that “it was a culture shock.” Patel feels that FAMU should be a more diversified university because “times are changing” and America is becoming more diverse and “old schools shouldn’t stick with the past.”
Some administration officials agree.
June said, “The more diversified the student body, the greater the learning and community environment. FAMU should cater to and mirror the society in which we live as we prepare students to go out into the world of work to make their contributions.”
Contact Haley McCabe at Haley1.McCabe@famu.edu