Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Office of Communications Establishes Street Team

The Florida A&M University Office of Communications has established a street team, the INFOrmants, to ensure the campus community – faculty, staff and students – is aware of official university activities.

“One of the Office of Communications priorities is to keep all of FAMU constituents and the campus community informed of activities, issues and opportunities,” said Sharon Saunders, FAMU’s chief of communications. “I’m confident these vibrant and energetic individuals will help us in this endeavor and at the same time gain valuable experience.”

Students that are part of the street team will work on a number of tasks within the Office of Communications such as volunteer at convocations or press conferences, conduct research, write press releases and copy for Web and develop publicity and promotion strategies for special projects.

The members of the street team are:
  • Erica Baker, a sophomore broadcast journalism student from Atlanta, Ga.;
  • Natasha Graddick, a senior public relations student from Macon, Ga.; and
  • Marvin Newsome, a junior public relations student from Philadelphia, Pa.
Baker was anxious to get started and gain the “hands-on experience” that so many employers look for while promoting an institution she has grown to love. Her colleagues agree.

“I feel that I will benefit by gaining both experience and an education at the same time,” said Newsome.

Graddick looks forward to the overall experience.

“I’m excited about establishing relationships with new people, experiencing new challenges outside of my comfort zone and being part of something that will help my fellow Rattlers,” said Graddick.

CAPTION: Left to right: Erica Baker, Marvin Newsome and Natasha Graddick

FAMU Student Receives Scholarship to Study in Vienna

The Florida A&M University Office of International Agriculture Programs (OIAP) awarded a $4,000 scholarship to Joshua Green to participate in a European-USA Student Exchange program titled, “A Study in Vienna.”

Green is a FAMU junior, majoring in International Agriculture and Business in the FAMU College of Engineering Sciences, Technology and Agriculture (CESTA). As
part of this program, Green will study at the University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences (BOKU) in Vienna, Austria, now through June 1. He will also participate in cultural and language programs and a supervised internship under the leadership of Rainer Haas, Ph.D., associate professor for the Institute of Marketing and Innovation at the University of BOKU.

A native of Redlands, Calif., Green is a member of the FAMU Marching 100 Band.

“I really welcome this opportunity to study in Vienna,” said Green. “The program at the University of BOKU is outstanding. I hope to be able to further develop my interest in organic farming, as well as the rich musical culture of Vienna.”

The Study in Vienna program builds on the European partnership and institutional relationship developed by the OIAP under a grant funded by the U.S. Department of Education Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) titled “Comparing European Union (EU) and United States Biotechnology, Food Safety,
International Trade & Regulatory Policies.” The international exchange, teaching and research program, under the FIPSE grant (2004-2008), was supported by three EU universities (University of Udine, University of Hohenheim, and University of BOKU) and achieved the following impacts:
  • It supported the development of a new joint international course, the Global Seminar AGG 4420 001 3813;
  • Seven CESTA students completed semester study programs in Europe;
  • Three CESTA faculty exchanges for teaching and research were carried out to EU partner universities;
  • Five EU students studied at FAMU for a semester; and
  • Four EU faculty conducted teaching and research activities at FAMU.
Harriett Paul, director of the Office of International Agriculture at FAMU-CESTA and director of the FAMU EUUS Student and Faculty Exchange Program, is committed to designing international education programs to increase the participation of agriculture students in study abroad programs.

“Today, agriculture is a global enterprise,” said Paul. “Our students in agriculture and natural resources need to broaden their knowledge of other systems and methods, expand on their cultural experiences and second language skills, and improve their understanding of the opportunities and challenges facing America’s production, value-addition and trade in food and fiber products on the global market.”

FAMU students who participated in the FIPSE Exchange Program cited their semester study in Europe as “life-changing and a truly rewarding experience.”

For more information, contact Paul at (850) 599-8867 or via email at harriett.paul@famu.edu.

Obama Campaign and Inaugural Mementos Bestowed to FAMU

Less than a month after the historic inauguration of the country’s first African-American president, U.S. Senator Bill Nelson donated his personal keepsakes from President Barack Obama’s campaign and inauguration to Florida A&M University.

Senator Nelson donated two unpublished photographs of Obama on the campaign trail, his own tickets to the Inaugural Parade and the Presidential Inaugural Southern Ball and his formal Inauguration Program.

“On behalf of Florida A&M University, I want to thank Senator Nelson for donating these valuable pieces of American and world history,” said FAMU President James H. Ammons.

The items are on public display at FAMU’s Carrie Meek-James N. Eaton, Sr. Southeastern Regional Black Archives Research Center and Museum.

“Knowing how much the election of Barack Obama means to America – and to the students, faculty and alumni of FAMU, it’s my hope these mementos might offer future students and Floridians a reminder of the hope instilled in all of us on Inauguration Day 2009,” said Nelson.

With an Increase in National Achievement Scholars, FAMU Continues to Attract the Best and Brightest

Mellori Lumpkin, Florida A&M University's Student Government Association vice president, was recruiting a National Achievement Scholar and she did not even know it. Through her effort and the effort of others, FAMU is currently ranked No. 2 in the state of Florida, No. 2 among Historically Black Colleges or Universities (HBCUs) and No.17 in the United States in recruiting National Achievement Scholars. The university’s goal is to be No. 1.

“Through our aggressive recruitment campaigns, we were able to show prospective students that FAMU is an institution that provides an enlightening academic experience and faculty that cares about student development,” said Roland Gaines, vice president for student affairs.

Lumpkin and Shirelle Clark were next-door neighbors and grew up together in Bainbridge, Ga. Lumpkin’s success at FAMU is what sparked Clark’s initial interest in the institution.

“Seeing how happy she was made me take note of what FAMU had to offer,” said Clark, a FAMU freshman majoring in nursing.

As it would turn out, Clark followed in the footsteps of Lumpkin, who was the only National Achievement Scholar of her freshmen class in 2005.

Clark is one of the 11 National Achievement Scholars that enrolled at FAMU for the 2008-2009 school year. There are a total of 815 scholars enrolled at 173 institutions in the United States.

Increasing from six students in 2007-2008 to 11, FAMU continues to attract excellence by almost doubling the number of National Achievement Scholars for this academic school year.

Among the National Achievement Scholars enrolled at FAMU for the 2008-2009 school year are:

- Tyler Calhoun from Waukegan, Ill.
- Christon Byrd from Penfield, N.Y.
- Samuel Cawley from Atlanta, Ga.
- Dominique Chesteen from Jonesboro, Ga.
- Shirelle Clark from Bainbridge, Ga.
- Alexis Cooke from Tampa, Fla.
- Porscha Council from Loxahatchee, Fla.

National Achievement Scholarship Program is an academic competition established in 1964 to provide recognition for outstanding African-American high school students. Students are required to take the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, as well as meeting other requirements to be considered.

CAPTION: FAMU's Student Government Association Vice President Mellori Lumpkin’s (left) success at FAMU is what sparked Shirelle Clark’s initial interest in FAMU. Clark is one of the 11 National Achievement Scholars that enrolled at FAMU for the 2008-2009 school year.

FAMU Student Featured in the College Preview

Amari Jones, 19, a third year environmental science student at Florida A&M University, was featured in the College Preview magazine.

The article “Saving our Planet” examined the opportunities for environmental scientists, highlighted the variation of salaries and focused on several students, who are vastly excelling in science programs.

Jones, a native of Houston, Texas, expressed her passion for making a difference. “I chose my major after Hurricane Katrina,” said Jones. “When I traveled with FAMU to help, I saw the real impact.”

Since Jones’ initial visit to Louisiana, she completed her tour in five trips to help rebuild homes.

Jones plans to complete her master’s degree in meteorology. One of Jones goals is to research ways to advance the prediction of storms.

Despite her accomplishments, Jones remains humble.

“It is a great honor, especially being an African American,” said Jones. “Not many minorities are featured in a magazine regarding environmental science.

Jones wants to work with other scientists and conduct individual research.

Although Jones has worked hard in her studies, she credits FAMU for instilling professional development into its students.

“FAMU taught me how to better myself, how to interact with people and prepared me for the real world,” said Jones.

College PreView is a publication that targets college-bound juniors and seniors.

FAMU Professor Co-authors New Book Published by Thurgood Marshall College Fund

Charles Magee, Ph.D., Florida A&M University professor of the Biological and Agricultural Systems Engineering (BASE) program, is a co-author of a new book published by the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) titled “Models for Success: Successful Academic Models for Increasing the Pipeline of Blacks and Hispanics Students in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Areas.”

The book highlights successful STEM programs at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). The BASE program in the FAMU College of Engineering Sciences, Technology and Agriculture (CESTA) has been identified by the TMCF as a successful STEM program.

Magee is the author of Chapter 5 of the book, “Biological and Agricultural Systems Engineering (BASE): A Success in STEM at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University.” The chapter includes statistical data that supports the need for developing a pipeline to help increase minority representation in STEM areas, as well as an in-depth perspective of the history and implementation of the biological and agricultural systems engineering program at Florida A&M University.

“This recognition is very significant for our BASE program, as it will help us attract more students, especially among minorities, to train for STEM professions that offer tremendous opportunities for young people to excel in life,” said Makola Abdullah, Ph.D., dean and director of Land-Grant Programs, FAMU College of Engineering Sciences Technology and Agriculture. “Being identified in this book as a “model of success” in STEM is a testament to the excellence of the BASE program and the commitment of Dr. Magee, the faculty and our staff.”

The Thurgood Marshall College Fund selected FAMU’s BASE program because during its short 13-year history, two Ph.D. graduates have been produced in biological engineering and molecular biology, and there are five BASE graduates presently pursuing Ph.D.s in STEM fields. The program began at FAMU in 1996. Since May 2000, 38 students have graduated from the BASE program. Out of the 38 students, 18 have gone to graduate school at 14 different universities.

Magee’s own story is one of a STEM professional. A 1970 graduate of Alcorn State University majoring in general agriculture, Magee earned the master of science in agricultural engineering from the University of Minnesota (1973) and his Ph.D. in agricultural and biological engineering from Cornell /university in 1980. He was the third African American to receive a doctorate degree in this field. During his career, Magee has received recognition for significant “firsts” including being the first African American hired as an assistant professor in the College of Agriculture at the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville; and he received the first United States patent in the history of Fort Valley State University.

The TMCF publication will be shared with libraries and directors of STEM programs at other universities. Through this academic network, it is anticipated that more BASE graduates will be recruited by universities for graduate study in STEM fields.

FAMU Research Center offers Introduction to Enology

The Florida A&M University Center for Viticulture and Small Fruit Research is offering an enrichment course titled “Intro Enology/Art and Science of Wine Appreciation” beginning February 24 through April 30.

This is a structured course of study, designed to introduce the participants to enology, the science dealing with winemaking and wine understanding, and in the art of “knowing wine” as related to human tradition and culture.

The course is open to the general public. Interested individuals must be 21 years old or older. The Center offers this as an outreach and extension activity of the Center for Viticulture Science and Small Fruit Research, which is a component in the FAMU College of Engineering Sciences, Technology and Agriculture.

Classes for the 10-week course will take place every Thursday from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. at the FAMU/CESTA Center for Viticulture and Small Fruit Research located at 6505 Mahan Drive, Tallahassee, FL 32317. Each class will consist of two 45-minute sessions with 10-minute breaks. Instruction for the sessions includes a combination of lecture, video presentation and 30-minute wine tasting and evaluation discussion. Course requirements include a final examination, a field trip to one of Florida’s leading wineries and a discussion of the different wines sampled during the visit.

Participants who successfully complete 70 percent of the course requirements (lectures, discussion forums, field trip and final examination) will graduate with the certificate of completion and two credit units from the University Outreach Program.

The enrollment fees for the course include the cost for the field trip to the winery. The fee categories are as follows: general public is $255 per person; FAMU faculty/staff is $205 per person and students is $165 per person. The enrollment deadline is February 24, as seating is limited to 20 students.

To register or for more information, contact Violetka Colova, Ph.D., FAMU Center for Viticulture and Small Fruit Research, at (850) 599-3996 or via email at Violetka.Colova@famu.edu.

FAMU Installs Defibrillators in Buildings Throughout Campus

Florida A&M University wants to do what it can to protect the hearts of its nearly 12,000 students and 3,000 employees. The university has installed automated external defibrillators (AED) in buildings throughout the campus as part of its on-going commitment to health.

University officials say that the 114 defibrillators that are installed in 70 buildings across the campus will make FAMU a leader nationwide in the number of devices in place on a single college campus to treat the victims of cardiac arrest.

“As women all over this country join forces tomorrow with the American Red Cross to bring attention to the fight against heart disease through National Wear Red Day, we are confident in knowing FAMU has launched an initiative that has the potential to save lives,” said FAMU President James H. Ammons. “Our thinking was to be effective. Students, faculty, and staff must have easy access to a defibrillator wherever they are on campus. That is the situation that we have now created – a defibrillator in every occupied campus building.”

Research shows that early defibrillation is critical in sudden cardiac arrest. In fact, for every minute without defibrillation, the odds of survival drop 7-10 percent.

According to FAMU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Cynthia Hughes Harris, it is not enough just to have defibrillators, but important to have personnel trained to use them.

“If we are forced to use them, that means an unfortunate crisis has occurred,” said Harris. “The true objective is to create a campus climate that focuses on our own health and the health of our hearts; a campus climate that is focused on prevention through healthy lifestyles and behaviors.”

The installation of the AED devices marks the beginning of a campus-wide initiative to improve the overall health of students, faculty and staff on campus through the “Heart Safe Campus Community Initiative.”

This project involves using health as a tool to strengthen the FAMU community. The campaign will also focus on proper screening, such as blood pressure because high blood pressure can be an indicator for cardiac arrest.

“Through these initiatives and campaigns, we will become a Heart Safe Campus Community,” said Provost Harris. “As proud as we are to have the security of defibrillators on our campus, we will be more proud that we will never have to use them.”

The university will officially begin to offer training classes next week. To augment the defibrillator training, the university will also offer CPR training campus-wide.

FAMU Police and parking services vehicles also have defibrillators. In addition, the university has installed defibrillators at the FAMU College of Law, and plans are underway to install the AED devices at the Panama City campus.

This project was supported by a $1.5 million grant the university received in 2003 funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

CAPTION: FAMU announced it has installed automated external defibrillators in buildings throughout the campus as part of its on-going commitment to health. President James H. Ammons (second from right) holds one of the defibrillators. Other participants included (from left to right) Errick Farmer, FAMU’s Office for Academic Affairs; Provost Cynthia Hughes Harris; Michael Castleman, Cardiac Science; Jorge Olaves, FAMU’s Division of Health, PE and Recreation; Mary Simmons, FAMU’s School of Allied Health; and Helen Michel, director of health and safety service, American Red Cross.

Office of Communications Awarded for Excellence

The Florida A&M University Office of Communications will receive an Award of Excellence and a Special Merit Award from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) District III for its work in media relations and graphic design.

“This recognition from CASE is significant,” said Sharon Saunders, FAMU’s chief communications officer and special assistant to the president. “It is symbolic of our strategic effort as a university community to positively promote and market FAMU. This award recognizes the commitment and dedication of my staff toward a common goal.”

In the category of Media Relations Programs, Division B, Total Programs, the FAMU Office of Communications submitted news articles, editorials and the Office of Communications strategic plan which included as one of its goals to reverse the trend of negative news coverage. The office received an “Award of Excellence” in this category.

According to Edwina Harris Hamby, Ph. D., judging coordinator for the media relations programs, the initiative was “right on the mark.”

“Your goal was a very unique one, but one that many institutions often face yet do not tackle effectively,” said Hamby.

Hamby also suggested that the FAMU Office of Communications develop its strategic initiatives into a workshop and present it at an international CASE and Association for Fundraising Professional (AFP) conferences.

“You have a viable ‘best practice’ from which other institutions could benefit immeasurably,” she said.

In the category of Direct Mail, the Office of Communications submitted the invitation for FAMU President James H. Ammons’ inauguration, which included an interactive DVD. For this submission, the office received a “Special Merit Award.”

During 2008-2009, the office took advantage of new media establishing MySpace, Facebook and blog pages. The office increased the number of press releases that were distributed worked to promote university achievements through special events, and developed strategies to keep FAMU stakeholders informed. Alumni also received releases and helped in the effort to spread the word about university events and achievements.

The cut off for the submission were activities ending November 5, 2008. During that period, FAMU had articles published in the New York Times, USA Today, Ebony, Diverse Issues in Higher Education and publications throughout the state and nation. In addition, the university received exposure through ESPN Game Day and TV One coverage during the presidential election.

CASE District III holds an annual conference where institutions of higher learning in Southeast region of the United States participate in various workshops, roundtable discussions and professional development seminars, in addition to the awards ceremony. This year, CASE will hold its annual conference in February in Atlanta, Ga., where the Office of Communications will be presented with the awards.

CAPTION: FAMU's Office of Communications received an Award of Excellence and a Special Merit Award from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) District III. Units in the Office of Communications include: media relations, publications and special events. (First row left to right) Angel Suri; Sharon P. Saunders, who manages the Office of Communications and serves as the special assistant to the president; and Pamela Tolson, director of Media Relations. (Second row left to right) Tawanda Green; Charles Collins, III; Sabrina Thompson; Brian Lucas; Tammy Hamlet, director of Special Events; Veronica Scott; Keith Pope; Lawana King; and Glyndell Presley, director of Publications.

Monday, February 2, 2009

FAMU Receives Unqualified Financial Audit With No Findings

Florida’s Auditor General David W. Martin released, today, the financial audit for Florida A&M University for 2007-2008 that shows no findings. The last time FAMU had a financial audit with no findings was in 2002.

University officials say the unqualified audit, the second since the tenure of FAMU President James H. Ammons, validates the work of FAMU’s administration and staff. Ammons said the unqualified audit also validates how the FAMU Board of Trustees is working to provide the kind of governance needed to make FAMU a world-class institution.

“We faced serious challenges in the area of finances that threatened our accreditation and the vitality and future of this university,” said Ammons. “Through the support and leadership of our Board of Trustees, the expertise and commitment of administrators and staff, and the support of alumni, we have been able to restore the public’s trust in our ability to handle our finances.”

The Chairman of the FAMU Board of Trustees C. William Jennings of Orlando said that he is very pleased about the progress that he sees at his alma mater.

“In 19 months we have seen tremendous progress,” said Jennings. “I believe that we have committed leadership at the top and administrators and staff who are professionals in every sense of the word. Florida A&M University is an institution that is critical to the survival of this state and nation. As a member of the Board, I am proud to see that we have been able to restore the public’s trust in our institution.”

According to Martin, the “results of our tests disclosed no instances of noncompliance or other matters that are required to be reported under Government Auditing Standards.”

Teresa Hardee, chief financial officer and vice president for Administrative and Financial Services, said the auditor general’s report is reflective of what is expected of a public institution of higher education and any other entity that requires an audit.

“There is no reason why FAMU should not be in compliance with government auditing standards,” said Hardee. “It is our job to strive for fiscal integrity in all of our operations that are validated by our financial statements.”

This is the second announcement this week, which sent a strong signal that FAMU has dealt with its financial challenges. This week the Florida Board of Governors dissolved the Task Force on FAMU Finance and Operational Control Issues. The Task Force was created by the Board to monitor the university’s corrective action plan.

In a recent report to the Board on Wednesday, January 28 Ammons said that FAMU has corrected all of the weaknesses that led to the creation of the task force in 2007.