As 2016 begins, it is only fitting to look back on 2015 for Florida A&M University.
From historical baseball moments to Board of Trustee disagreements to student activism, FAMU has had a year of victories and a year of lessons learned.
When the ball dropped in New York City marking the beginning of 2015, many FAMU students and officials were doing a lot of celebrating in Tallahassee, but the celebrations were not because of the New Year.
Just one week before the New Year arrived, former Buffalo University offensive coordinator, Alex Wood was named the head football coach for the Rattlers. Wood was excited to be a part of the FAMU community.
“We can build a competitive football program that will play a positive role in helping FAMU enhance its brand,” Wood said.
Since his hiring, the football program has engendered much support and continues to bring in thousands of fans to the football games.
Hiring Wood was one of many positive accomplishments for FAMU in the beginning of 2015.
The U.S. Department of Energy National Nuclear Security Agency awarded two grants totaling $6 million to the university.
FAMU alumnus and CEO of Virtual Instruments and Chairman of Microsoft, Inc., John Thompson was presented the Technology and Business Award at the 2015 BET Honors Awards.
FAMU opened a new university recycling center and revamped the school’s recycling program.
The FAMU Wind Symphony accepted an invitation to perform at Carnegie Hall, becoming the first Historically Black College or University to be awarded the honor.
Also, a FAMU engineering student was part of a team awarded $50,000 for a trailblazing project.
However, while one engineering student was basking in accomplishment in early 2015, others were worried about the fate of the FAMU-FSU School of Engineering.
Paige Edwards, a 2014 FAMU Engineering graduate, felt that Florida State officials wanted to get rid of the joint engineering school.
“The statement that John Thrasher released proposing the split made it seem as if he thought FAMU students were the reason the College of Engineering is not considered an elite institution,” Edwards said.
The Florida Board of Governors conducted a pros and cons analysis of maintaining the joint college program versus developing separate engineering programs at each individual university.
Engineering students at FAMU had to wait months to hear the fate of their college. However, it was unanimously decided to keep the two schools together.
As the spring 2015 semester came to a close, the FAMU baseball team was making a historic run.
The team won the MEAC Championship for the first time in 20 years, and the Rattlers made their first ever appearance in the NCAA regionals playing the University of Florida Gators.
While summer vacation commenced, President Elmira Mangum was under fire by many members of the BOT.
Mangum supported an agreement to make FSU the fiscal agent over budgeting for the joint College of Engineering. This decision did not sit well with the other BOT members. The disagreement was the beginning of a summer full of BOT issues that spilled into the fall semester.
The BOT called an emergency conference call meeting where there was a motion to fire President Mangum who was not in attendance at the meeting. The motion failed in a 5-7 vote. In the wake of the attempt to terminate Mangum’s contract, FAMU students marched to the Capitol in support of Mangum.
While the university president was under fire, the Student Body President, Tonnette Graham, was accused of tampering with school funds and targeted for impeachment. The allegations were soon dismissed, and Graham kept her position.
In the midst of much controversy, FAMU still managed to make positive news at the latter part of 2015.
FAMU homecoming welcomed more than 20,000 people, one of the highest attendances out of all the HBCU homecomings of the year.
FAMU created a passport program that gave hundreds of free passports to students.
The university's enrollment went up 20 percent with almost a thousand more applicants than previous years.
FAMU students and faculty created the “FAMU Forward” pledge to continue to move the university in a positive direction.
“We want to enhance [the university]. We want to break new ground and we want to take our rich legacy to the next level," said Provost Marcella David about the pledge.
Students also took a stand against police brutality with the annual Strike Out Showcase featuring a performance from recording
As 2015 ended, FAMU sat in the role as number two public HBCU in the country, one of the top producers of nurses and pharmacists in the country and a top Southeast school.
2015 had its share of obstacles for the university, but it is clear that the triumphs outweighed the troughs.