Reginald Ellis has Florida A&M in his blood.
The highly regarded associate professor in history grew up in Whigham, Ga., a small town about 45 minutes northwest of Tallahassee. He frequently visited FAMU as a child to be with his mother, who was an office manager in the university’s Department of History.
“My mother worked at FAMU for 39 ½ years,” said Ellis. “She brought me to work with her a lot and so I literally grew up on this campus.”
Ellis was FAMU-bred since childhood. His passion for history blossomed from the first-hand experience he received thanks to his mother’s guidance.
“I was one of the few individuals in my community who was exposed to African Americans who were doctors. When I was growing up, I didn’t understand the difference between a medical doctor,” said Ellis. “My mother bred in me that once I graduated, I was coming to college.”
Ellis took up his major in African American studies at FAMU after his childhood mentor, Larry Rivers. In this field, he received his bachelor’s degree.
Ellis’ second mentor, David Jackson, encouraged him to further his studies at Memphis University where he received a doctorate in United States history since 1875. Jackson was also the reason why Ellis returned to FAMU to teach at the university.
“Once I got to FAMU and got my degree, my other mentor throughout my life, Dr. David Jackson, encouraged me to go to the University of Memphis,” said Ellis. “He recruited me back to FAMU as a professor in history and I took some of the same concepts of mentorships and research and teaching that they (Rivers and Jackson) bred in me.”
As a professor, Ellis strives to leave a lasting mark on all his students.
“One of the main reasons that I wanted to come back is to be a part of this larger Rattler community outside of just being an alum,” said Ellis. “When we think about our professors as we get older, when we think about how those individuals impacted our lives, I wanted to play that same role for my students.”
As the assistant dean for the Graduate Feeder Scholar Programs, Ellis interacts with deans and graduate schools to build connections for students interested in the program.
“I communicate on a daily basis with individual deans around the campus and also graduate schools around the nation to be able to tell the story of Florida A&M University, to be able to hopefully create more partnerships for our students,” he said.
Brianna Ross, program assistant for the Graduate Feeder Scholars Program, and former graduate assistant to Ellis, continues to assist Ellis in his role as the assistant dean of Graduate Feeder.
“He’s always been a great teacher and he always puts his neck on the line, and always tries to assist his students in any way he can,” said Ross. “He’ll put his students in a place to succeed.”
Junior education major Shawn Holloway is living proof that Ellis preaches what he teaches.
“He is quite passionate about what he teaches and he makes things relatable to us,” said Holloway. “The class is very interactive and I can tell the other students enjoy the class too.”
Ellis continues to make strides in his position by doing his best to push aspiring Rattlers to greatness.
“Part of my legacy will be the students that I’ve impacted 20, 30, 40 years from now,” Ellis said.