Florida A&M's newest president promised to restore the university's struggling reputation and strengthen programs to ensure FAMU stays competitive.
“It’s a new season because it’s a time for change and transition,” said Elmira Mangum, the university's first woman president. “It’s the beginning of a recovery and a renewal and of all that is great about FAMU.”
Mangum officially took office Friday during a massive ceremony that saw past presidents return to campus and brought her family and many well-wishers to FAMU's Al Lawson Center. It was one of the final events in a week to welcome Mangum. She is the eleventh person to hold the highest office at FAMU and the first permanent president since her predecessor, James Ammons, resigned two years ago.
The newly inaugurated president said she takes the position seriously and plans to serve as an advocate and example for the university.
“I have taken this oath of office and formally entered this presidency with deep humility for what you ask of me,” Mangum said. “I am grateful for your trust and I pledge at all times to do what is best for FAMU.”
The event was very much a family affair for the new president. Mangum's sons presented her with the presidential robes and medallion. Her daughter hooded her. Several members of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority from across the country attended.
Mangum thanked her family and friends for their support and credited her faith for preparing her to lead the university and its 9,000-plus students and hundreds of faculty.
“This ceremony symbolizes a great professional honor in my life to have reached this point and this place with God as the head of my life,” Mangum said. “It’s possible to reach high places in the world with God as the head of your life. I stand here because of His grace and mercy.”
Mangum asked students, alumni and others to support her in restoring the university's reputation as a prominent HBCU that grants more people a lower-cost education.
“My vision is for FAMU to be part of a global brand that matters in the 21st century and beyond,” Magnum said. “I see it as an assignment to make a difference in the lives of students, whom we serve, and to keep the opportunities open, accessible and affordable.”
Amanda Sutton-Gray, a senior music industry student from Simi Valley, Calif., thought Mangum’s speech of a new season and vision for the university was encouraging.
“It was lovely. It was so endearing. It was very uplifting… something that we need for the university at a time like this,” Sutton-Gray said. “Just like everyone said it is a new season here at FAMU and I know that Dr. Magnum is going to bring a new standard to the university.”
Former Florida Rep. Curtis B. Richardson said he was glad he could witness a historic moment and listen to a “heartwarming, sincere” message from Mangum.
“I thought it was a very optimistic speech. It was very hopeful about the future of FAMU,” said Richardson, the newly elected Tallahassee City Commissioner, Seat 2.
Richardson is looking forward to working with Mangum in the future in his new capacity in the city’s perspective to partner with FAMU.
Mangum urged the university community to invest in FAMU and to defend its stature and work toward shared goals. “It’s a time to build up and not tear down,” Mangum said. “It’s time to chart a clear and certain path out of the pain and passion of recent years.”