Interim Deans Say They Will Build Strong New Colleges

Florida A&M split its largest college into two smaller ones this summer to, as the university hopes, better administer similar programs.

On July 1, the former College of Arts and Sciences became the College of Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities and the College of Science and Technology. As the names suggest, one will house humanities programs and the other will house many of the university’s science programs.

Valencia Matthews will serves as interim dean for CSSAH. She had been until last month assistant dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Matthews said she looks forward to establishing her college’s identity at FAMU.

“As a new college, that we have a sense of collaborating and knowing where we want to go as a college,” said Matthews, adding that she plans to communicate often with students, staff and faculty. 

“It does require your looking at the entire college and saying ‘OK, what are we really about?’ and so the good thing about that it has happened and it gives you the opportunity to start from ground zero in sense.”

CSSAH includes, among other programs, political science, geography, music, psychology, and foreign languages (which includes now includes the English department).

Former director of FAMU’s Quality Enhancement Program Maurice Edington will serve as interim dean for CST.

Edington said he plans to spend much time building a core of programs and services to better educate students.

“As interim of a new college, the primary goal is to really get the college up and running. We want to get the college staffed and get our office situation finalized and begin to offer those focused set of services to the students,” said Edington. “As we begin to do that, we want to start at least laying down the foundation or plan to have FAMU have a focus concentration on enhancing teaching and research on the STEM areas.”

CST includes physics, chemistry, biology, computer information systems and mathematics.

Jasmine Green, a fourth-year biology student from Chicago, said she believes the split was necessary but that she is not yet sure what effect it would have on the program.

“As a student of biology, going into my fourth year, I don’t feel as if the sciences at FAMU are focused on enough,” Green said. “As far as the teachers we have and the curriculum, I just feel like there needs to be more structure and maybe the divide will help with that.”

Edington said his University Common’s office is a temporary location, but the university administration will work on relocating him to a permanent space on campus.

Matthews said former FAMU President James Ammons’ resignation last month would not affect the division because the split was decided over a year ago. Ammons quit in July, and Provost Larry Robinson has since been appointed interim president. 

She said, however, that his leaving might affect recruitment.

“As Florida A&M University, we are facing challenging times, but we tend to be resilient,” Matthews said.

Both She and Edington said they are interested in becoming the permanent deans of their respective colleges.