Recruitment not hurt by troubles

Recruiting top quality students to FAMU has been a challenge in recent years for the University’s administration.

A lot has changed since TIME Magazine’s Princeton Review named FAMU “College of the Year” in 1997; during the late ’90s, FAMU was considered one of the top colleges in the country.

From 1997-99, the University was ranked No. 1 in the United States in producing black Americans with bachelor degrees. FAMU was also among the top schools in the country in recruiting National Achievement Scholars.

Since that time of great achievement, the University has been enthralled in a number of highly publicized scandals and controversies.

FAMU has had two different presidents and two interim presidents in a span of five years. Ten of the 14 academic deans resigned, retired or were terminated during former President Fred Gainous’ tenure alone. The University’s athletic program was also involved in a failed attempt to upgrade to Division I-A.

Despite the flood of bad media coverage that has blanketed the University, FAMU’s pursuit of America’s best and brightest has remained constant.

Robert Malone, FAMU’s coordinator of Student Affairs, the University has actively been recruiting top quality students throughout the United States.

“Our mission has not changed. We have always aimed to bring top notch scholars to the University and we are continuing to do this,” Malone said.

Malone, who has been with FAMU for five years, also said his staff is actively having meetings to innovate new ways to recruit top high school students.

One of the proven methods of attracting high quality students to FAMU has been sending recruiters out to high schools to meet with prospective students on a one-on-one basis. For several years, FAMU has initiated a number of statewide recruiting tours that take university recruiters to every high school in the state.

Natalie Rose, an administrative assistant with the scholarship office, said she has noticed a decrease in the number of top scholars over the course of the last three years. In 2003, FAMU recruited nine NAS recipients. In 2004, the University recruited 12; the school recruited 62 in 2000 and 52 in 2001.

While the numbers represent a sharp decline, Rose pointed out the figures could be due to a wide range of other factors that have nothing to do with the level of bad press the University has received in the past. She said the financing of a college education is a big determining factor of where a student will choose to enroll.

“Financing college is a major strain and the cost factor is a deciding factor for many students and their parents,” Rose said.

Rose said the scholarship office tries its best to lure potential students to FAMU with attractive financial Aid packages.

“Based on their test scores we can offer some of them full (tuition), and then others we can offer full tuition but not room and board,” Rose said.

Kimberly Davis, FAMU’s director of admissions, said she has not noticed a significant change in the overall year-to-year enrollment at the University. She said the overall good reputation of the University mostly outweighs the bad media attention.

“One of the things that has helped us to continue to recruit and get as many students as we do is that we do have the philosophy of helping the students,” Davis said.

Contact Anthony M. Moore at