Standing room only describes Florida A&M University’s (FAMU) Annual President’s Convocation.
Cheers of anticipation grew silent as a processional of FAMU’s faculty, followed by distinguished guests, entered the gym draped in academic regalia for the day’s occasion. As it turns out, this President’s Convocation would commemorate more than just the start of a semester and a presentation of FAMU’s President James H. Ammons’ goals for the school year.
This convocation would remind everyone that with perseverance and “a dream” anything is possible.
FAMU Student Government Association (SGA) President Andrew Collins presided over the convocation and SGA Vice President Mellori Lumpkin delivered a dynamic welcoming address. Following Lumpkin were Omari Crawford and Amanda Byrd, Mr. and Miss FAMU 2008-2009, who introduced the Royal Court and spoke of the significance of today’s occasion.
Cynthia Hughes Harris, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, had the honor of introducing FAMU’s tenth president, who presented to the FAMU community his eight goals for the 2008-2009 school year but not before explaining today’s historical significance.
“I want to congratulate the United States of America and indeed the Democratic Party for the historic nomination of Senator Barack Obama as President of the United States,” said Ammons. “His acceptance of this nomination came 45 years to the day that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his historic ‘I Have a Dream’ speech.”
Ammons said that no matter what your party affiliation, he encourages everyone to exercise their right to vote in this historic election.
Ammons then outlined his goals, which focused on retention and graduation rates, reaffirmation of the Southern Association of Colleges and Commission on Colleges (SACS-COC), new degree programs and full accreditation for the FAMU College of Law.
• Update the university’s strategic plan;
• Increase enrollment as well as retention and graduation rates by improving the quality of the student experience;
• Secure reaffirmation of the SACS-COC and move FAMU’s accredited disciplines toward compliance with the standards of their respective accrediting bodies;
• Develop new degree programs and increase research productivity to be competitive with our peers;
• Implement policies, processes and procedures that continue to enhance and strengthen the University’s financial and operational systems;
• Implement new strategies to meet fund-raising goals;
• Implement marketing and public relations strategies that will enhance the image; of the University and increase membership in the National Alumni Association; and
• Secure the full accreditation for the FAMU College of Law
Hughes Harris then introduced members of the FAMU Board of Trustees, FAMU’s leadership team and the university deans to the campus community and recognized all faculty and staff in attendance.
In presenting this year’s “Marching 100” to the community, Julian White, Ph.D., also introduced James Moran, Ph.D., development officer in the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, who delivered a stirring rendition of the “I Have a Dream” speech as the sounds of the world famous “Marching 100” playing America the Beautiful filled the background.
Ammons honored White with a framed New York Times article that featured the “Marching 100.” Following the introductions of the band and band staff, Director of Athletics William “Bill” Hayes introduced FAMU’s coaching staff. Joe Taylor, head football coach, followed Hayes and introduced the football team and brought an overwhelming feeling of school spirit into the gym.
“I look forward to the celebration as we highlight a new beginning and a new era of excellence with caring,” said Ammons. “Rattlers, 2007-2008 was remarkable, but 2008-2009 will be the ‘Year of the Rattlers,’ where we will have no boundaries in the pursuit of excellence and success and a year of unlimited possibilities.”