Research symposium shines light on FAMU’s success

Robinson poses with symposium panelists and moderator
Photo submitted by Jina Gilliam

The inaugural Research Symposium on Thursday signaled the start of a series of events this weekend to honor Florida A&M University’s 12th president, Larry Robinson. The symposium’s theme, “Excellence Rising,”was reflected as faculty and friends of Robinson recalled their personal and professional encounters with the scientist who was named permanent president in November 2017.

The event in the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences highlighted his love of FAMU and research, and it featured a performance by the FAMU Connection,remarks from Robinson’s colleagues, a scholarly panel discussion as well as a video presentation that served as a visual biography of Robinson’s academic and personal achievements. 

Moderated by Turner Broadcasting senior producer Denise Hendricks of Atlanta, the panel discussion afforded an opportunity to talk with Robinson as well as the panelists about issues plaguing the campus.

Among the issues discussed were graduation rates, student preparedness, on campus resources and the importance of research.

Senior sociology major Nehemiah Nash was able to directly ask Robinson if the president believed there were more suitable metrics to evaluate student’s four-year graduation rates. Robinson suggested that a better graduation metric would be “looking at the total number of years a student is actually enrolled in school vs. four consecutive years.” 

Nash found the symposium insightful. “Not only did he answer my question but he also broke down how the faculty views it. He gave very applicable information, which is to apply more funding and ourselves and expand the gauge of metrics that we do use.”

The question was posed: “Is FAMU creating experiences for students to thrive in the area of research?”

Robinson said: “We have procured over $45 million of research funding. We have the faculty and the expertise to do the research in the right areas that allows you (the students) to go out and do great work; the opportunity for collaboration with national laboratories and private sectors. There are so many possibilities out there to do research. 

“All of those things are what make FAMU the ideal place to do research. 

“We have the reputation for it, we have the track record for it and we certainly have the passion for it. The research that we do is relevant to the constituents that we serve. If we don’t do this research, who else is going to do it? Who is going to look into the issues that might be important to you and your communities now? We cannot entrust this to anyone else,” Robinson added. 

Panelist Eunice Heath of Dow Chemical Co. said, “To get the best and brightest of diverse talent, we have to go where diverse talent is being groomed.” She said that’s why her company recruits at FAMU.

“The quality of the research that you’re doing here at FAMU will open doors for you anywhere. There is no place that is off limits to you as a graduate of Florida A&M University,” she said.