Florida A&M University (FAMU) President Larry Robinson, in his annual State of the University address Thursday, lauded the efforts of students, faculty, staff and administrators in helping the state’s only public Historically Black College or University (HBCU) navigate through one of the most difficult years in the institution’s history.
“So many positive things have happened for FAMU during the last year, despite dealing with a global pandemic, issues of social injustice and a recent insurgency at our nation’s Capitol. But today I am yet optimistic about the future of our nation and our University,” Robinson said during the virtual event. “As an institution and as a FAMUly, we have achieved a measure of excellence in the operation of this institution and the delivery of services to first our students, our community and to those entities who provided or invested resources in this institution. But we cannot let dhiown our guard. We must not assume the battle is over.”
Among the highlights, Robinson cited the FAMU Bragg Memorial Stadium community COVID-19 testing site, which has administered more than 200,000 tests since it first opened on April 25, 2020. This week the university is expected to begin offering students, faculty and staff rapid tests at the Employee Clubhouse as part of safety protocols for the spring semester. Robinson, who turned 66 earlier this month, received his first COVID-19 vaccine at the Student Health Services Thursday.
While the pandemic presented many unforeseen obstacles, it also brought opportunities, Robinson said. The university was able to increase its online and remote course offerings, while also addressing the technology needs of students, faculty and staff.
“This was crucial to the success of our students, but also to the survival of the university,” Robinson said of the move to 100 percent online instruction in spring 2020.
“We had to purchase hundreds of computers, provide cameras and “hotspot” devices to allow students online access and train faculty in this new modality of delivery,” said Robinson, who visited several classes Tuesday to observe the rooms renovated to accommodate in-person and remote instruction simultaneously. “The upgrades made to classrooms have just been remarkable.”
Among the other successes, Robinson highlighted during the hour-long event was research. In 2019-20, FAMU received 167 research grant awards totaling $60.8 million, the largest dollar value of research awards in the University’s history. In addition to securing federal CARES Act funding to mitigate lost revenues and increased expenses associated with the pandemic, the University announced a number of key partnerships with major corporations such as Dow and TikTok to fund scholarships.
In 2020, FAMU attained its highest score ever under the State University System (SUS) performance-based funding model, thanks to increased graduation rates combined with achieving the lowest out-of-pocket costs for its students among SUS institutions.
The university has some ambitious goals, Robinson told his audience.
“We see FAMU rising into the ranks of the Top 100 universities in the nation,” he continued. “Let’s embrace this vision and recognize that it too is in our collective hands.”