Former Florida A&M University President James Ammons returned to his alma mater Saturday to bear witness to FAMU’s long-standing rivalry against Southern University.
Ammons serves as the executive vice president/executive vice chancellor of Southern University in Baton Rouge, La., but he admits that FAMU will always be his and his wife Judy Ammons’ academic home.
“We’re always gonna’ be Rattlers,” Ammons said Saturday after watching FAMU turn back Southern, 27-21. “Our roots are here at Florida A&M.”
Ammons plans to continue his career in higher education until he has nothing left to give.
“Once I decide that I can’t make a difference in higher education anymore, we’re returning to Florida,” he said.
Ammons considers his role at Southern to be a bit broader because SU is a university system with five institutions, but he said there are some similarities between SU and FAMU.
“Both do a great job of creating pathways to a better life for African Americans,” Ammons said.
He also acknowledged the impact the universities have in producing emerging leaders in a multitude of professional fields.
Saturday’s game was Ammons’ first return to the campus since FAMU President Larry Robinson’s inauguration. He expressed how proud he is of the work Robinson has done and is doing.
“I knew when I first met Dr. Robinson that he was going far, and no one should be surprised that he’s the president of the nation’s top HBCU, Florida A&M,” Ammons said. “He has everything that it takes to be a successful leader and he’s showing it.”
When Ammons served as provost at Florida A&M, he recruited Robinson to be the director of what’s now the School of the Environment. Robinson described the years under Ammons’ leadership to be “wonderful,” and delighted in having him return to The Hill for Saturday’s game.
“It was touching and at the same time, of course, you have to maintain a little bit of a competitive spirit,” Robinson said jokingly.
Robinson took pride in the Rattlers’ win.
“We clearly saw who won the game,” Robinson said. “The Marching 100, they brought it … outstanding performance.”
Robinson said he enjoyed the overall atmosphere of the game and considers Saturday’s game to have been a special one. From filled stands, on both sides, to the bands, to the tailgating, Saturday’s game brought an old feeling back to Bragg stadium.
“It was the revival of a rivalry that goes back before either you or I was born. It’s rich. It’s deep,” Robinson said. “And, on top of all of that, the Rattlers came out on top.”
Ammons said the game was hard-fought but SU had no answers for the Rattlers’ offense.
“My hat is off to Coach Simmons, Dr. Robinson and the entire Rattler family, this was a well-deserved and hard-earned victory,” Ammons said.