Community conflicted over building’s name

The renaming of a building shared by the two largest universities in Tallahassee has sparked controversy.The Florida A&M University-Florida State University College of Engineering has renamed its building in honor of the late Herbert F. Morgan, a FSU alumnus.

But some students disagree with the building’s name change.”I feel that both FAMU and FSU student-ran governments would’ve had a big hand in the decision to rename the school,” said Bethany Jones, 20. “I think since the engineering school is a joint college, an alumna from both schools should’ve been chosen for the new name, not just an FSU alumnus.” Jones, a junior biological agricultural systems engineering student from Houston, said it was a great idea to name the school after Morgan, but the title needs to be balanced. Michael LaBeach, 21, agrees.

“I just found out that the building got a new name today,” said LaBeach, a junior mechanical engineering student from Miami. LaBeach said students should have received an opportunity to name the building. “It takes more than one person to build a house,” he said. “There should be someone from FAMU and FSU person to build a house,” he said. “There should be someone from FAMU and FSU that made a contribution to share the building’s name.” In a ceremony last week, members of the Florida legislature and university faculty, staff and students from both universities dedicated the facility at Innovation Park. The building is now known as the Herbert F. Morgan School of Engineering. Morgan, a former member of the Florida House of Representatives, contributed to the establishment of the 200,000 square-foot building.

Sen. Al Lawson Jr. said the FAMU administration had a hand in the approval of the name change.

“Students should be excited that the building is named after him,” Lawson said. “He played such a strong role in making the engineering school what it is today.”

Lawson, who authored the bill to approve the building’s name change, said if students actually knew of Morgan’s contributions there would be a greater appreciation for the name.

Ching-Jen Chen, dean of the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering sided with Lawson. He said the dedication to Morgan was fitting.

“Herbert Morgan was over the appropriations committee in the state House and put forth fueling for the school,” Chen said. “Without him there wouldn’t be an engineering school today.” Chen said Morgan spearheaded the lobbying to join FAMU and FSU into one school.

In a Jan.10 FAMU press release, Interim President Castell V. Bryant said, “It is fitting that our universities pay tribute to his visionary leadership for this academic program and his many noteworthy contributions to education in the state of Florida.” In addition, FSU president T.K. Wetherell said, “As a public servant, he exhibited the highest ethical standards and served his state with dignity, intelligence and an unwavering commitment. I’m delighted to help honor his memory in this manner.”

One student said the name change was appropriate, however.”The new name is fine with me. Morgan put in a lot of time and money in to the E-School,” said Enye Blocker, 20. Blocker, a junior mechanical engineering student from Birmingham, said regardless of the new name, “the building will always be known as the FAMU-FSU School of Engineering to us.”