Dressed in academic regalia, professors filed into Gaither Gymnasium Friday morning to join students, staff, and alumni at the first convocation of the year.
Despite the blistering heat many were excited about the newly required academic dress code.
“It’s always hot but we’re glad to put it back on,” said Geraldine Seay, director of Upward Bound, as she pealed off her sticky robe with a smile. “It’s tradition and I’m so happy to see it back.”
Frank Haynes, director of educational talent search/TRIO, said, “It’s worth it because it gives us a feeling of belonging as it relates to the academic community and inspires students, who are not aware of its significance”
In addition to the ceremonial robes and a delightful rendition of “We are a Family,” from the stage play and film “Dreamgirls,” by FAMU’s Concert Choir- there was a riveting recitation of excerpts from Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
The speech was delivered by Dr. James Moran, a professor in the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, as the Marching 100 playing the patriotic tune “America” in the background.
Surprisingly, this popular performance also happened to be impromptu.
“It was spur of the moment and I did not even expect to do it,” Moran said. “I learned it [the speech] years ago and I have done it for about 11 years now with the ‘100.”
Moran said he has traveled with the ‘100 and done the performance for black history presentations, but it was especially significant, considering that Friday marked the 45th anniversary of the famous speech.
“I’m always excited to have an opportunity [to perform the speech] because I love doing it,” Moran said.
But he wasn’t the only one that enjoyed the speech. Just moments after delivering the speech, his cell phone’s inbox was filled with congratulatory text messages.
“The 2007-2008 school year tells our story in no uncertain terms: We’re simply the best,” said President Ammons said Friday.
Ammons pointed out accomplishments of the past year, such as the university’s “clean audit”. He praised the College of Pharmacy and the School of Journalism for regaining their accreditation and the School of Business and Industry for its numerous internships on Wall Street.
Ammons also spoke about future goals to increase enrollment, along with graduation and retention rates.
Ammons said he predicts an increase of enrollment to 15,000 students within five years.
Ammons declared 2008-2009 the Year of the Rattler Friday morning, announcing a five-year plan for FAMU’s growth.