University celebrates its 119th year at convocation

Alumni and students gathered in Lee Hall Tuesday to celebrate 119 years of excellence as the annual Founders’ Day Convocation commenced.

Meredith Gibbs, the great-granddaughter of Thomas Van Renssalaer Gibbs, was the keynote speaker for the event. Thomas Van Gibbs was a member of the Florida House of Representatives and co-founder of Florida A&M University along with Thomas D. Tucker in 1887 .

Meredith Gibbs, provost for operations of Miami Dade College, explained the devotion and perseverance her great-grandfather and Tucker had in their quest to create an institution of higher learning for blacks.

Gibbs started her speech by expressing how happy her great-grandfather would be to see how far FAMU has come. “I can say confidently he would be immensely proud,” Gibbs said.

She expressed the hardships her great-grandfather endured while trying to establish FAMU 23 years after emancipation. “He grew up knowing that education was a necessity,” Gibbs said. “He was an extremely hard worker and would not take no for an answer.”

She also expressed her concern for the welfare of blacks. “There are more black men in prison than there are in college,” Gibbs said.

She said that everyone needs to take the same personal journey as her great-grandfather and Tucker did.

Gibbs stressed that in 2006 many people could learn from the founders of FAMU to never let any obstacles stand in their way, set only the highest standards and not only have faith but practice faith.

She wanted those in attendance to know it is important to have a commitment to excellence in education and service to our community.

Also in attendance was the FAMU Connection, who performed an array of songs and rejoiced in the celebration of the history of the university. FAMU Connection kept the audiences’ attention by including a historical view about the university in their performance.

“I thought the performance from the FAMU connection was great,” said Jeannie Paul, 20.

Paul, a junior accounting student from Delray Beach, also said the speaker gave a great synopsis on the kind of person Thomas Van Gibbs was.

Although classes were not cancelled, many students were in attendance.

Student Government Association Vice President Monique Gillum, a third-year political science student from Gainesville, said she was overall impressed with the turnout of the Founders’ Day Convocation.

“I think that it went very well and I was very impressed with the students’ presence at convocation.”

I want to thank the student body for coming to celebrate 119 years of excellence,” Gillum said.

Castell V. Bryant, FAMU interim president, wrapped up convocation by saying, “No matter what the nay-sayers say, FAMU is here to stay forever.”