Construction, school growth plan flourish

Florida A&M University was founded Oct. 3, 1887, and since the birth of the university, many modifications have been made to the campus including renovations and the construction of new buildings.

Several original campus facilities have been modified for various uses over time.

“I was born in Foote-Hilyer when it was Florida A&M University Hospital,” said Fran Fitz, acting coordinator of institutional research and Tallahassee native.

“The total enrollment when I was a student at FAMU was about 5,000,” Fitz said. “I have seen tremendous growth.”

The facilities planning department has more additions to the university already in the works. The department has started with smaller projects such as the field house located by Bragg Memorial Stadium.

Renovations have been made to the locker and weight room of the field house, which is primarily used by the FAMU football team, said Sam Houston, facilities planning director.

The intramural field will be closed in with buildings. The new intramural field is now open south of the new recreational center. There is also construction being done on the multipurpose center.

“I remember when Ware-Rhaney was one building. There was no science and research building, no new pharmacy building and no journalism building,” said Ayoola Aboyade-Cole, a 28-year-old pharmacology graduate student from Sanford.

There was a time when students had to acquire rattler cards from Foote-Hilyer, Aboyade-Cole said.

In addition to expanding the campus, other buildings need to be up-dated Aboyade-Cole said. “Tucker hall, when compared to the new, state-of-the-art buildings, is out-dated and should be updated.”

The campus recreational center opened this semester, and many students find center opened this semester, and many students find themselves intrigued by the equipment, fitness classes and health food stand.

“I love it,” said Alexandria Solomon, a freshman pharmacy student from Melbourne. “When you first walk in, they take your bags and give you a number so that you can pick it up when you leave. I love that they offer classes, and I like the treadmills. I try to make it about three times a week.”

The larger projects in the works include a new multipurpose center and construction on FAMU Developmental Research School. There are millions of dollars being invested in these expansions.

“Money is needed for expansions to accommodate new students,” Aboyade-Cole said. “When I first came here in 1996, the campus was very much developed, and there were not as many students. There are now many more students and there is a need to build new classrooms and expand facilities.”

The total cost of the multipurpose center is about $35 million.

Twenty-six million alone will be spent on construction.

It should take about 17 months for the multipurpose center, and the construction on FAMU DRS will last about 14 months. “The multipurpose center can accommodate 10,000 students,” Houston said.

“I think this is a great need to expand the campus based on the growth of the university,” Houston said.

If FAMU continues to provide the quality education and caring environment students seek once they have left home, campus growth will take care of itself, Fitz said.

FAMU is known for its academic excellence and giving students a chance, she added.