Florida A&M University students, faculty, staff and alumni joined state legislators Wednesday at the Capitol to celebrate FAMU Day, an annual recognition of the University’s accomplishments.
Students and alumni met with legislators to discuss challenges, comment on governance and showcase new programs.
“FAMU Day is important to the community because it gives the school a personal touch that goes beyond the facts and numbers that are heard in the news and through word of mouth,” said Gregory Woodall, 22, a third-year physics student from Atlanta and student government chief of staff.
During a lunchtime intermission, the famed Marching 100 played for the several hundred people who attended. The FAMU Concert Choir sang as food was served.
After the musical celebration, senators and representatives discussed in a news conference the negative light shed on the University because of a recent preliminary financial audit.
One of the major focuses for the speakers was to reassure the public and those affiliated with the University that steps are being taken to improve the current situation.
Sen. Al Lawson, a FAMU alumnus, was the first to speak and told the crowd that FAMU must continue its mission to educate and strengthen the futures of its students.
“We cannot look back on what’s occurred in the past, we can only look towards the future,” Lawson said.
Lawson said the University is not the only school that has been hit with recent management issues, but because FAMU is in the state capital, its mistakes are magnified.
Sen. Anthony C. “Tony” Hill, chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus, announced that a selective group from the caucus will appeal to and work with the Board of Governors task force that will assist FAMU with its budgeting. These caucus members are Lawson, Sen. Arthenia Joyner, and Reps. Curtis Richardson, Ed Bullard and Terry Fields.
Speakers from the caucus united to discuss attempts at total government control over FAMU’s finances and funding cutbacks. The FAMU Legislative Budget Request for 2007-2008 includes increases for several building projects, including:
•University Commons Renovation $1,212,500
• Electrical Upgrades, Technology, Infrastruc ture $5,000,000
• Development Research School $2,500,000
• Multi-Purpose Center Teaching Gym $8,500,000
• Tucker Hall Renovation $14,474,914
• Gore Education Complex Remodeling $8,301,606
The BOG, which oversees the 11 public state universities, has already approved these project requests.
Other requests include $1 million to recruit and retain faculty and staff, and includes a 1 percent pay raise, $270,000 for the FAMU/FSU College of Engineering to increase student retention and graduation, and $170,000 to increase direct deposit appropriations for student financial services.
FAMU Day also included a School of Allied Health and Sciences, School of Nursing, and College of Pharmacy collaborative health fair, which offered glaucoma, blood pressure, glucose, cholesterol and diabetes screenings.
“This health fair is the prefect opportunity for our students to exhibit their knowledge and help the public simultaneously,” said Dr. Doris Ballard-Ferguson, assistant dean for the nursing practitioner program.
Zalwonaka Sanders agreed.
“Every year is always a good turnout, and the best part about the screenings is the counseling to let people know that health and disease prevention is important,” said Sanders, president of the graduating class of nurse practitioners from Louisiana.
Acknowledgment of the recently named Carrie Meeks-James N. Eaton Sr. Southeastern Regional Black Archives Research Center and Museum, also known as Black Archives, added to the festivities.
Jackye Maxey, director of governmental relations at FAMU, helped coordinate the event.
She said that in the 15 years the capitol has hosted the event, this is “probably the perfect time to show some rattler pride, given the recent media attention.”