On Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018, President Robinson invited faculty representatives from various of Florida A&M University's colleges and schools into his home to discuss the state of the institution.
Robinson’s Fireside Chat served as an open forum to the faculty and allowed for them to cover a wide range of university issues, achievements, and discuss goals for the university.
With the legislative session adjourning on March 9, the main topic of discussion was geared towards the significance of securing university funding. Robinson stressed the importance of receiving the money needed to improve the student and faculty experience at FAMU.
Amongst several funding requests to legislatures, seven million dollars have been requested to upgrade classroom technology, 14 million for advising, counseling and faculty support, as well as receiving the remaining funding for the future Center for Access and Student Success (CASS).
This increase in available budget will allow professors to better assist students in a plethora of ways, especially with improving technology in the classroom, which seemed to be a common hindrance to many of the faculty members.
"With this new technology, we can stay abreast of how our students are performing in the classrooms and provide them with intrusive advising long before they get off track. We need a more comprehensive and coordinated approach to identifying these problems early on," Robinson stated.
Terrell Brown, an assistant professor of social work, spoke up during the chat to receive assurance from President Robinson that non-STEM majors would still have a chance to reap the benefit from the seven billion dollars being allocated for technology advancements on campus.
After the event concluded, Brown expressed his passion for integrating technology into non-STEM majors. "One of the slogans in the College of Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities says that, 'we are the conscience of the academy' and that's how I feel about the liberal arts disciplines," said Brown. “So, I do think there should be priorities around integrating technology in non-STEM majors because a lot of what we do outside of the STEM fields is to prepare students to have a conscience of science, technology, engineering, and math. To be well rounded."
Aside from the legislative updates, Robinson reminds the group about the upcoming Southern Association of Colleges accreditation visits and how much faculty cooperation plays a part in being reaccredited.
"We don't need to be fearful of SACS, but we do need to have a lot of respect for them. There are a lot of things that can be determined by our Board of Governors and other entities, but the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools is the body that accredits the institution and without their accreditation all of the financial aid that our students are eligible for now, they will no longer be eligible for."
Serving as a critical roadmap, the FAMU Rising six strategic priorities were initiated in the Fall of 2017 and will remain the administration's points of focus for a total of five years.
Maurice Edington, vice-president for strategic planning, analysis and institutional effectiveness and also the founding dean of the college of science and technology, will play an essential role in achieving the university's desired outcomes from the plan.
"All six of the strategic priorities are designed around students and focused on improving the student experience," said Edington. "At this point sufficient resources to support the initiative is our biggest priority."
The five-year plan will require Edington to perform a vital role in securing accreditation for FAMU through SACS and achieving the exceeding the requirements in the performance funding methods which were established by the Florida Board of Governors.
The six strategic priorities include exceptional student experience, excellent and renewed faculty and high impact research, commercialization outreach and extension services, transformative alumni, community and business engagement, first-class business infrastructure and outstanding customer experience.
During the question and answer session, faculty expressed their concerns regarding receiving more technical support, faculty loss without proper and timely replacements, and the addressing mental health issues on campus.
President Robinson and his staff received great feedback at the conclusion of the discussion. Several faculty members reported that open conversations like this with make their job easier and allow them to address problems directly to the administration.
"I think these opportunities provide a starting base to discuss and understand what the issues are within our institution and that we, as faculty, are here and committed to the students and the work," said Brown.