University to honor former president with bronze statue

Former Florida A&M President Frederick Humphries will soon have a statue to commemorate his presidency.

The Frederick S. Humphries Life Got Better Bronze Statue Committee hosted a fundraising dinner at Humphries’ home in Orlando on Saturday night.

Chair Jim Davis said the committee started planning the project last year, and a meeting was held with the board of trustees to designate what it wanted to accomplish.

“I’m in the belief we should really honor the people who really do something for our people and our institution,” Davis said.

Humphries was FAMU’s president from 1981- 2001, and in 2009, was asked to become the president emeritus.

Humphries said the committee asked if it was all right to build a statue replicating him.

“I feel highly honored by that,” Humphries said.

Many supporters of the project were at the dinner, such as Alice Bacon, who owns Bacon Rug Company and is a former classmate of Humphries.

“It’s an excellent purpose because Dr. Humphries has proven the fact that he has outstanding leadership qualities,” Bacon said. “We have thoroughly enjoyed him as president of Florida A&M University.”

Davis said during Humphries’ presidency, FAMU tied with Harvard as the No. 1 recruiter of National Achievements Scholars. The Time Princeton Review also named FAMU “The College of the Year.”

According to a brochure provided at the fundraising dinner, during Humphries’ term, FAMU expanded its masters and doctoral programs, making FAMU the largest single HBCU campus.

Humphries said his vision was to produce the next generation of scientists, doctors, lawyers and entrepreneurs. He partnered with about 155 companies, known as the FAMU Industry Cluster, which were able to sponsor Humphries’ signature program, the Life-Gets-Better Scholarship.

Humphries said he’s passionate about FAMU. He said he wanted to use his talents to make FAMU the best institution and help students grow to create a better vision for themselves.

“I wanted to do everything I could to help the students, to help them not be afraid of the cost of education,” Humphries said. “During my tenure, I was trying to make people feel good about being a part of FAMU.”

Not only did Humphries want to help students feel good about FAMU, but he wanted the faculty and staff to be proud of where they worked. He wanted people outside of FAMU to respect the university.

Henry Allen, a retired electronic engineer from the Federal Communications Commission, supported the project.

In 2001, Humphries said he gave Allen the Millennium Award Medallion for supporting FAMU’s programs financially during the 17 years he was president.

“He was a very good recruiter of students,” Allen said. “The National Merit Scholars was his thing. I supported him with the Life-Gets-Better Scholarship.”

Davis said the committee plans to raise $175,000 for the life-size statue of Humphries to overlook FAMU’s Eternal Flame.

At the fundraising dinner approximately $10,000 was raised to go toward building the statue.