Pioneers, trailblazers and alumni were honored Friday for their many contributions to FAMU after four University buildings were named after them.
Everyone who had a building named after them contributed in some way to these programs.
Walter Smith, alumnus and former FAMU president, was honored in front of numerous spectators by having the Architecture Building named after him. He has been an educator for the past 40 years, and during his presidency, he oversaw the development of four new schools and colleges.
“He was the most articulate president we have ever had and was outstanding,” said Florida Sen. Al Lawson, D-Tallahassee.
Lawson, one of the many dignitaries in attendance, spoke of great things Smith has done for FAMU.
Smith testified about his life and how he had many things to overcome. Before attending FAMU, he was a high school dropout and received his GED at the age of 23.
“To be a high school dropout and become president of FAMU, what a journey,” Smith said. “I built on a legacy. My grandfather started on this campus.”
The Allied Health Building was named after Margaret Lewis and Jacqueline Beck, two women who spearheaded the development of the nursing and allied health science programs.
“I am truly touched and especially proud,” Lewis said. Lewis recalled her experiences at FAMU as not only the Dean of the School of Nursing, but as a student. She said she was very excited and proud of the advancement of the program she helped to build.
“I think of this building as a citadel that houses special commodities,” Beck said. Beck explained that, due to financial obstacles, she had a hard job helping to start the School of Allied Health Science.
However, with the help of former FAMU Presidents Walter Smith and Frederick Humphries, she was given help and has aided in making the program what it is today.
“It is a wonderful thing to honor people who have contributed to the University in a way that is ongoing and perpetual,” said Valencia Matthews, associate Professor of the Arts and Sciences.
U.S. Rep. Carrie Meek, D-Florida, and James Eaton, were honored with the Southern Regional Black Archives Research Program and Museum being named after them.
Eaton and Meeks, FAMU Alumni, were responsible for the buildings construction. Eaton was the architect who was responsible for the building’s design and floor plans, and Meek was responsible for getting funds to support the project.
“I thank you for your dreams,” said Leathea Eaton, wife of the late professor, because her husband had a passion for keeping history alive and keeping students abreast of their past.
Teary-eyed, Meeks accepted the honor, saying, “Orange and green is in my system – has been there and will always be there.”
Meek said that during the ceremony she reminisced of the days when she was involved in the civil rights movement and all the courage that people like Patricia Due gave her.
“Hearing about it was empowering. It made me proud to be here,” said Carmen Gay, 19, a first-year pharmacy candidate from San Diego. “They have done a lot that I didn’t know about.”
The School of Business and Industry building was the last to be named. It was named after Sybil Mobley, the school’s founding dean.
She began teaching business classes before the SBI program existed and prided herself in making the school No. 1 after serving for more than 58 years.
“No excuse is acceptable,” she said, quoting the motto of SBI.
“No amount of effort is adequate until proven effective.”