Rattlers react to upcoming commencement speaker

John Morgan. Photo courtesy: newspress.com

Florida A&M University is welcoming John Morgan, founder of the successful law firm Morgan & Morgan, as the Dec. 9 fall commencement speaker.

The request came from FAMU President Larry Robinson after he heard Morgan give a motivational speech at a recent event, Morgan said.

“We are delighted to welcome John Morgan as our fall 2022 commencement speaker. John has long been a friend of FAMU and is well known for his philanthropy and support of causes that lift up the downtrodden,” Robinson said in a prepared statement.

Morgan is known for having connections with FAMU’s law school. Morgan’s firm is headquartered across the street from FAMU’s College of Law in Orlando.

His wife, Ultima, also a share owner and lawyer with the firm, is a former adjunct professor at FAMU’s law school. Also, FAMU trustee and former judge Belvin Perry Jr., is a personal injury attorney with Morgan & Morgan.

Robinson also mentioned that Morgan’s “immense contributions” helped kick off FAMU’s medical marijuana education and research initiative, which focuses on educating communities of color in Florida about medical marijuana and the consequences of the illegal use of marijuana.

FAMU is known for having prominent alums speak at the commencement ceremonies for graduating students. This would be the first in years to have someone who isn’t an alum or a Tallahassee native be the guest speaker.

Most students said it’s always good to break a tradition if it’s for a great cause to influence more opportunities or add to their education. Then some said it’s better to stick with the habits of having someone who was once a student at the same school that might’ve experienced the same challenges but overcame those obstacles.

Keeley Day, a graduating cardiopulmonary science senior, believes having someone tied to FAMU or the Tallahassee community would be more useful as a commencement speaker.

“Well, John Morgan, first and foremost, isn’t an alumni at Florida A&M University. He also isn’t even the Tallahassee local, so it makes more sense to have a prominent member of the community that’s been a university graduate or given back to the school giving back to the community,” Day said.

Winslyn Parrish, a master’s student, doesn’t see an issue with going in a different direction this semester in terms of the commencement speaker.

“I have no issue with it. I’ll say that alums are usually guest speakers, but we must understand that there is a limited supply of alumni. If someone is invited to speak and they have something of worth to say, then it shouldn’t be an issue,” Parrish said.