Charles Weatherford, a highly regarded physicist who has served Florida A&M University since 1978, was recently named vice president of the Division of Research. Weatherford had been serving as interim vice president since spring.
“Research or extending the boundaries of knowledge is as foundational to our mission as is inspirational teaching. The combination of the two prepares our students to be change-agents and innovators and contributors to much needed advances in our society,” FAMU President Larry Robinson said in a release. “Dr. Weatherford’s track record as a world-class researcher, seasoned administrator, and passionate educator and mentor of students, gives us confidence that we are moving in the right direction.”
According to the release, Weatherford is a computational atomic, molecular and plasma physicist who has worked at FAMU since 1978.
The Louisiana State graduate has been motivated to serve FAMU for roughly 40 years through his desire to impact the nation as well as his adoration for the university and culture.
“I decided I wanted to work in a university where I could have the greatest impact on the U.S. I determined that STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) workforce needs of the U.S. required the aggressive participation of minority U.S. citizens — and in particular African-Americans — if the U.S. was going to maintain its STEM world leadership. This was and still is true — now almost everyone realizes this,” Weatherford said in an email.
“I always enjoyed the FAMU culture and students and I, having been born in Mobile, liked the Gulf Coast. I liked the size of Tallahassee and its status as the capital of Florida. I tell people that FAMU gave me a license to hunt— to hunt for research grants and students to help me,” he continued.
Weatherford believes this is a critical time in the university’s history since FAMU is in the process of tackling the funding metrics established by the Florida Board of Governors.
“FAMU is facing the challenge of the Florida Board of Governor funding metrics. FAMU must rise to meet this challenge,” Weatherford said.
“I am honored to be entrusted with leading the FAMU Research Enterprise which must inevitably play a critical role in meeting and surpassing the BOG funding metric goals,” he added.
The campus-wide press release mentioned FAMU’s rise into the Carnegie Research Level Two classification.
“Weatherford said the faculty, students, staff in the Division of Research and other elements of FAMU’s research enterprise have shown great skill and dedication as they contributed to FAMU’s rise into the Carnegie Research Level Two Classification,” the release stated.
The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education has existed since 1970, according to its website and serves as an aid to the research efforts of higher education institutes.
“Starting in 1970, the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education developed a classification of colleges and universities to support its program of research and policy analysis,” the website said.
Weatherford challenges the FAMU research community to move toward Carnegie Research Level One within the next five years.
“Carnegie Research Level One status would signify research excellence —only research excellence could produce the level of publications, the number of PhDs produced, and the increased grant and contract funding signified by CRL-1 status. Our students will benefit from the increased exceptional job opportunities that CRL-1 status will produce as a result of the acknowledged high quality of their research training,” Weatherford said in an email.
Weatherford is replacing Timothy Moore, who was hired as vice president of the Division of Research in 2015 under FAMU’s former university president, Elmira Mangum.