Researchers at FAMU set school record

Vice President of the Division of Research Charles Weatherford. Photo courtesy FAMU

Many historically black colleges and universities fail to generate significant research grant funding. But it is an important source of revenue at Florida A&M University, and this past fiscal year was a banner 12 months for FAMU. The university received 167 research grant awards totaling $60.8 million for 2019-2020, setting a school record for the highest amount received in school history.

There are different reasons why every institution needs funding, but FAMU’s reasoning was simple: the university needed the funding to purchase equipment and hire students to perform research.

But what are some underlying causes of these fundings? Is it because FAMU decided to work on its proposals before the pandemic hit? Is it the fact that FAMU had sound reasoning? And will FAMU be good for at least the next few years?

Charles Weatherford, physicist and current vice president for the Division of Research at Florida A&M University, is proud of how  successful FAMU has been at receiving funds, even amidsta global pandemic.

“Throughout the year, faculty members write up proposals for the grants which were submitted way before the pandemic hit. This year we submitted proposals at the second-highest level,” Weatherford said. “But since the pandemic, everyone is wondering if the federal government will have enough money to fund them.”

Weatherford also mentioned his hope for FAMU’s success in the future.

FAMU student working on research. Photo courtesy

“This year will be a great year in terms of research spending. I am very afraid that after the global pandemic and the financial crisis that everyone is experiencing, there will not be as much funding awarded. But, if the virus becomes under control and the country gets moving again, I believe that FAMU will continue to be successful. I mean, we do have some excellent researchers which was proven when we set the record,” he added.

According to Carnegie classifications, out of the 135 universities, FAMU is one of 10 HBCUs that receive funding, making it a Carnegie Research 2 university.

FAMU is heavily dependent on the financial being of the country itself because a vast majority of the school funding comes from national research agencies. Throughout the past five years, FAMU has seen a steady increase in funding — especially for 2019-2020, with the university setting a schoola record.

President Larry Robinson remains positive on the expansion of FAMU’s growth in receiving funds that have helped the university financially and academically.

“This record-breaking year in research funding is a direct result of the hard work of our faculty and our strategic vision for ‘Excellent and Renowned Faculty’ and ‘High Impact Research.’ Together these outcomes enhance the overall student experience, lead to the resolution of complex societal issues and enhance the quality of life for all,” Robinson said in a release.