Florida A&M officials Wednesday hailed the grand opening of the Gore Education Complex as an important milestone for the century-old College of Education.
Interim President Larry Robinson called education "vitally important to the success" of Florida and its students. He said he hoped to have students and faculty appreciate the decades that have gone into shaping the university's education program.
"That's what we celebrate here: keeping a grand tradition alive," Robinson said. "Let us remember our individual responsibility to reach back and lend a helping hand."
Professor Emeritus Beverly Barber praised the changes the university has undergone since it started as the State Normal College for Colored Students.
"It is a testimony to the success of all those who studied here," Barber said at the ceremony, which was attended by dozens of former students and faculty.
Administrators ordered Gore Complex closed for renovations for more than 16 months between July 2011 and December 2012. In that time, the education department was operated out of the old FAMU Developmental Research School, which is adjacent to the three-building Gore Complex. Students and faculty have been able to use the complex since the start of this year.
Baycrest Corporation handled the construction oversight for the $10 million remodel to the complex. The new setup includes smart classrooms, improved access to disabled visitors and a Gallery of Distinction.
Standing in front of the gallery, board of trustees Chairman Solomon Badger urged guests to consider the value of educators in any community.
"Our gathering this morning provides us an opportunity to recognize the importance of taking action to help others reach their highest potential," Badger said.
Patricia Green-Powell, interim dean of the College of Education, touted the school's many accomplishments, including its longstanding accreditation.
"By necessity, the way we teach, the way we lead, will be very different in this new millennium," Green-Powell said. "It is significant because we have a wonderful opportunity to excel in this new paradigm of leadership."
Student Government Association President Michael Jefferson called on the FAMU community to continue shaping the university's legacy into its next century.
"It is only fitting that as we look into the next 125 years we look to this building as one of the best, brightest and boldest … of the university," Jefferson said.