Friday, March 27, 2009

FAMU Band Member Selected for Internship with FOX Music

Florida A&M University’s (FAMU) “Marching 100” band member Ralph Jean-Paul has been selected for a summer internship with the Fox Music Experience in Los Angeles, Calif.

“He is an outstanding leader and musician,” said Julian White, Ph.D., director of FAMU band. “Additionally, Ralph has participated in the Collegiate All Star Bands for Florida and the HBCU National Consortium. I am indeed proud that this prestigious internship experience is provided by Honda for Ralph Jean-Paul.”

Jean-Paul is a senior music education major from Miami, Fla., and currently the band president.

“When I was told that I got the internship, it was almost unreal,” said Jean Paul. “I’ve had plenty accomplishments dealing with music, but nothing like this.”

The future intern hopes to network and gain knowledge from this experience.

“I’m happy they [HBOB] chose FAMU and with all the great publicity we’ve been getting, it only allows us to reach another pedestal of exposure.”

The Fox Music Experience is a music internship/immersion program that works in conjunction with the Honda Battle of the Bands to help expose HBCU student musicians to the broader world of music and entertainment.

“This unique experience is being offered to only two students from two of the Honda Battle of the Bands Invitational Showcase bands,” said Barbara Ponce, manager of the American Honda Motor Company.

Launched last year, the program offers two student musicians the opportunity to spend a few weeks in the summer working on the Twentieth Century Fox studio lot learning film and television music production first hand.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

FAMU Alum, Final Two in "Groom of the Year" Contest

Florida A&M University (FAMU) alum Marvin Thompson was selected out of 1,300 as one of the top two contestants for the's 'Groom of the Year' contest.

“This has been a huge ride for us and we've received wonderful support from the Rattler community,” said Ebonee Rudolph, Marvin’s fiancĂ©e and a FAMU alum. “Since we are paying for our wedding completely on our own, winning this would be amazing!”

The 'Groom of the Year' would win his/her platinum bands from Tacori; groomsmen tuxedos from Men's Wearhouse; an entertainment console; a $2,500 voucher for a honeymoon in Paradise Valley, Az.; and a 40 inch HDTV. The prizes are valued at more than $10,000.

To vote for Thompson, log on to Voting will continue until Sunday, March 29, 2009 at noon.

FAMU to Compete in 20th Annual Honda Campus All-Star Challenge

Florida A&M University (FAMU) along with 63 other Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) will participate in the 20th Annual Honda Campus All-Star Challenge (HCASC), March 27-29, in Orlando, Fla. The Honda Campus All-Star Challenge is the only annual academic competition held between the nation’s HBCUs. FAMU is just one of the “Strong 64” participating schools preparing for the three-day tournament that will test their skills in world history, science, literature, religion, the arts, social sciences, popular culture and African-American history.

To date, the FAMU Honda Campus All-Star Challenge team is the only team to have won six national championships and more than $400,000 since the beginning of the tournament.

Since 1989, HCASC has brought together the nation’s best and brightest academic competitors from the America’s top HBCUs. Throughout its 20-year history, HCASC has touched more than 50,000 students and awarded more than $5 million in grants.

In addition to providing students a venue for friendly competition, HCASC encourages relationship building, intellectual excellence and the development values that define good character. Many HCASC alumni have made significant contributions in the fields of science, medicine, aeronautics, education and government.

“The Honda Campus All-Star Challenge was created to spotlight the academic heritage of the nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities by showcasing the great minds these institutions produce,” said Marc Burt, senior manager, Office of Inclusion and Diversity, American Honda Motor Company. “Today, 20 years later, we are proud to say that HCASC not only shines a light on the academic excellence of HBCU students, but also serves as a platform for the educational, cultural and personal enrichment of our nation’s youth. As Honda marks 50 years of operations in the U.S, we are honored to be part of this life-enriching event.”

This year’s “Strong 64” will be split into eight divisions and compete in a modified round robin format. The top two teams from each division will advance to the "Sweet 16,” and compete in a single elimination playoff. The final two teams will then compete for the National Championship title.

Colleges and universities from Texas, Louisiana, Georgia, North Carolina, Maryland, Virginia, Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina, Ohio, Illinois, Mississippi, Kentucky, Missouri, Pennsylvania and New York are slated to participate in this year’s 20th anniversary landmark challenge. In addition to receiving an all-expense paid trip to Orlando, Fla. to compete, each participating institution will receive grant money for their college or university.

For more information on the Honda Campus All Star Challenge and a list of the 64 participating HBCUs, please visit

Friday, March 20, 2009

Larry Robinson Appointed Vice President for Research at FAMU

Florida A&M University (FAMU) President James H. Ammons has appointed Larry Robinson, as FAMU’s vice president for Research. Robinson served as a professor in the Environmental Sciences Institute at FAMU and director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“I am honored to be selected to serve as vice president for Research at Florida A&M University and join Dr. Ammons’ impressive leadership team,” said Robinson. “The work that we do in the Division of Research will allow the University to execute our institutional mission. There is an array of complex issues confronting our nation including economic development. Solutions to these issues rest within ingenuity and novel ideas of persons who come to this campus everyday.”

One of Robinson’s goals is to engage FAMU’s talented faculty, students and staff in research, discovery, technology transfer and extension, which will be of great benefit to the state of Florida and the nation.

In September 2008, Ammons appointed Dean Makola Abdullah of FAMU’s College of Engineering, Sciences, Technology and Agriculture as chair of the search committee for the vice president for Research. This was a national search, which yielded 20 qualified candidates. A committee of faculty members from various schools and departments from across the campus comprised the search committee.

“I am pleased to have Dr. Robinson, an accomplished researcher, join my leadership team at this pivotal time in the university’s history,” said Ammons. “With his level of expertise and experience, we will strengthen our research infrastructure, increase our faculty and students involvement in research, and develop collaborations with various agencies and industries. FAMU will be involved in the development of new discoveries and technologies that will improve the quality of life for our state and nation. We want to facilitate innovation through our research initiatives and Dr. Robinson can help us to make this a reality. We are excited about our future in the area of research. ”

Robinson has secured more than $35 million in contracts and grants from various agencies such as the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the United Negro College Fund, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

He earned his bachelor of science in chemistry from Memphis State University and his Ph.D. in nuclear chemistry from Washington University.

He is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Ecological Society of America, the National Association of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers and Sigma Xi.

Robinson is currently on assignment as a senior scientific advisor for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service in Washington, DC. He will begin the vice president position later this spring.

FAMU Collaborates with Internal Revenue Service for the Third Annual Criminal Investigations Forensic Accounting Workshop

Florida A&M University’s (FAMU) Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice and the School of Business and Industry in collaboration with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Criminal Investigation will sponsor a Forensics Accounting Workshop Wednesday, March 25 from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the School of Business and Industry Building North Wing, Room 447-B.

FAMU hosted the first workshop in 2006 and is the only historically black college or university to conduct such a project. This is also the third collaboration of this kind in the state of Florida.

Based on an increasing interest in the study and investigation of financial crimes through the use of forensic accounting principles, the workshop offers a unique program that will assign FAMU students to teams responsible for solving several hypothetical crimes.

The hypothetical scenarios challenge the students by presenting “real world” situations. Each group of students, working as a “task force,” will have an experienced IRS Special Agent serving as a coach, but it will be up to the students to follow the appropriate “paper trail” to resolve the scenario. The four-hour investigations may start with an anonymous informant, a meeting with local law enforcement, or even a bag of garbage. Once given a starting point, the students will select the next steps in gathering evidence. These steps usually take them to potential witnesses played by seasoned IRS Special Agents. The students will utilize tools available to federal law enforcement officers, including undercover operations, surveillances, subpoenas, and search warrants. At the end of the scenarios, the students will meet as a group to discuss the lessons learned from their respective investigations.

Through this project, the Internal Revenue Service hopes to generate interest among qualified students in its unique brand of criminal investigation, while preparing prospective applicants by giving them a taste of the world of forensic accounting and financial investigation.

FAMU Awarded Grant to Further Strengthen STEM Programs

The United States Department of Education has awarded the Florida A&M University (FAMU) Department of Computer and Information Sciences (CIS) a grant under the Minority Science and Engineering Improvement Program (MSEIP).

The project titled, “MSEIP: The FAMU Multimedia Learning Resource Management System (FAMLEARNS) for STEM Instructional Enhancement,” is potentially a three-year $468,000 award. The FAMLEARNS project will use existing and emerging computer technology to produce multimedia-based instructional materials called Captured Learning Resources (CLRs).

“During this period of severe budget reductions, and with possible increases in class sizes, this project will provide FAMU students additional learning resources that are accessible at any time, from any place,” said Edward L. Jones, Ph.D., project principal investigator of the project.

Students access CLRs over the Internet as streaming video. Similar technology is being used successfully at universities such as University of Michigan, Duke and North Carolina Central Universities. A CLR can be a recorded lecture or a supplemental resource that reinforces key or difficult concepts. The technology permits the capture of tutoring sessions, in-class demonstrations, mathematical proofs, laboratory procedures, or training in the use of computer applications.

The goals of FAMLEARNS are to improve student learning and performance in critical and difficult formative STEM courses, and to stimulate the adoption of educational technology by STEM faculty. Expected student outcomes include lower failure rates in the formative courses, higher retention in the STEM majors, and improved progression through STEM majors. Expected faculty outcomes include increased adoption of educational technology and educational innovation. These outcomes are consistent with the university’s strategic initiative to increase the use of educational technology that is capable of supporting diversity in instructional delivery.

The CIS Department will extend this work in three ways:

  • By supporting authoring on the fly, where any learning situation (e.g., answering a student’s question) can be recorded without elaborate set up;
  • By developing software to make the system easy to use, such as content indexing and searching, and automated upload into the university Blackboard system; and
  • By providing a formal help desk for all users of the system.

During the three years of the project, the team will develop the infrastructure required to institutionalize the use of this technology starting in the CIS department and migrating to selected STEM departments.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Florida A&M University Wins Victoria’s Secret PINK HBCU Competition

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Victoria’s Secret PINK has announced the winner of their HBCU Competition, Florida A&M University (FAMU). From January 26 – February 22, PINK tracked the sales at Victoria’s Secret stores and online of the new Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Collegiate product and FAMU consistently came in first place each week. PINK announced these results each week on the “Tom Joyner Morning Show” and Rounding out the top five are Southern, Howard, Hampton, and North Carolina A&T Universities.

FAMU will receive a special visit from PINK this April. Although some details are being kept a surprise, PINK has created Limited Edition tees to giveaway FREE to the first 1,000 students that day and a coupon to use in their local VS PINK store. Additionally, PINK will have laptops onsite to encourage students to sign up as a member of PINK Nation, an online network where they can receive free items, exclusive offers, special downloads, and the inside scoop of all that is PINK!

In January, five HBCUs were added to the PINK Collegiate Collection including Florida A&M University, Howard University, Hampton University, North Carolina A&T State, and Southern University. This is the largest retail distribution deal ever offered to HBCUs. Richard Dent, chief operating officer of PINK says, “This partnership is symbolic of PINK's desire to be the most aspirational collegiate brand in America targeted to ALL college age women.” By purchasing HBCU product from the PINK Collegiate Collection, customers will be providing direct support to their favorite HBCU as a portion of proceeds go to the respective university.

The PINK Collegiate Collection initially launched in July of 2008 and includes a variety of co-branded apparel that features the brand iconography of PINK and 36 of the most prestigious universities in America. The apparel, which includes silhouettes that are identical to product offered in campus bookstores, consists of tees, sweats, hoodies, and shorts.

Launched in 2004, Victoria’s Secret PINK is a fully articulated lifestyle collection for young women. The Victoria’s Secret PINK Collegiate Collection was launched in July 2008 and is an exclusive assortment of collegiate co-branded merchandise that features VS PINK’s highly recognizable brand iconography and the names and logos of the top universities on fashion apparel. More than 30 universities across the country are included in the collection. To see the full list of schools, go to

FAMU’s Lyceum Series Presents United Negro College Fund Empower Me Tour featuring Acclaimed Author and Actor Hill Harper

On Saturday, April 4, Hill Harper will present ways for minority youth to obtain fundamental financial tools that will jumpstart their journey to wealth building while empowering them with skills that provide a head start toward financial security and freedom during the HBCU Empower Me Tour.

The tour will offer students with students a unique opportunity to gain valuable information, learn useful life skills, speak with corporate recruiters, and obtain information about scholarships and college. FAMU students will have the opportunity to compete for four scholarships valued at $2,500 each. Individuals must attend the event to qualify for the scholarship.

The United Negro College Fund, in partnership with the Wachovia Foundation and the Manifest Your Destiny Foundation, will host the HBCU Empower Me Tour featuring acclaimed actor and best-selling author Hill Harper.

Harper will speak from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the Grand Ballroom of the H. Efferson Manning Student Union Building.

From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., an Empower Me Tour Zone, an interactive experience for middle school, high school and college-age students, is scheduled on the Set. The Tour Zone will give students an opportunity to learn valuable information, speak directly with college and corporate recruiters, win great prizes and have a little fun.

Representatives will be on hand from leading corporations such as Wachovia, American Airlines, FedEx, Amtrak and Ford. Representatives from UNCF, Teach for America, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America and the NAACP will provide information about available scholarships and information regarding voter’s registration.

The purpose of the tour is to bring together minority middle school, high school and college students to share in a one-of-a-kind experience where they will be motivated, encouraged and inspired to take control of your destiny! The tour promotes education, mentoring and volunteerism as tools for achieving your goals and dreams in life.

To attend the event, individuals must register on location or online at

Hill Harper is the acclaimed author of the bestseller, Letters to a Young Brother (Gotham Books, 2006), which won two NAACP awards and was named a Best Book for Young Adults by the American Library Association in 2007. His latest book is titled Letters to a Young Sister.

Winner of prestigious awards for best supporting actor, Hill currently stars in CSI: NY and his numerous professional credits include Beloved and He Got Game.

Harper graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. from Brown University and cum laude from Harvard Law School. He also holds a master’s degree from the Kennedy School of Government. He resides in Los Angeles and is committed to sharing the message of using higher education and basic financial knowledge as successful life tools.

For more information, call FAMU’s Office of Communications at (850) 599-3413.

FAMU Awards $554,000 in Scholarships During 2009 Bus Tour

Students and their parents filled two venues — one in Gainesville, the other in Fort Lauderdale, where they were entertained by Florida A&M University (FAMU) students before 32 scholarships were offered on the spot as part of President James H. Ammons’ Up Close and Personal Tour.

On Thursday, March 12 in Gainesville, Ammons started his three-city road tour, which was designed to recruit the best and the brightest and boost FAMU’s enrollment.

“We wanted the community to know that we value academic excellence and we are willing to reward it,” said Ammons. “We wanted those students who worked hard and excelled to understand that FAMU has the programs and support systems in place to give them the competitive edge. Whatever their future plans are, we told them, you can get there from here. Florida A&M University is the institution that will help you to discover what you can become.”

In Fort Lauderdale, Ammons awarded the first Life-Gets-Better Scholarship during the tour to Krystan McAulay, a student at North Miami Beach Senior High School. This is FAMU’s top scholarship that covers tuition, room, board and books while providing a stipend for miscellaneous expenses. This scholarship, valued at $80,000, also includes summer internships and a laptop computer.

“This is what I needed,” said McAulay, who plans to major in biology. “I live with my grandparents and they don’t work. I didn’t want to incur a lot of loan debt so I am really excited about this opportunity. It is a blessing.”

At Springhill Missionary Baptist Church in Gainesville, more than 400 people attended the reception where the FAMU Connection, which comprises of a group of students, told FAMU’s story through song and dance. Ten students received full scholarships and five partial scholarships were offered ranging from $8,000 to $24,000 over a four-year period. The scholarships were awarded based on the students meeting the SAT, ACT and grade point average requirements.

On Friday, the FAMU Connection performed at Palm Beach Lakes High School where one student received a full scholarship. Ten partial scholarships were awarded ranging from $4,000 to $16,000. At the reception in Fort Lauderdale that evening, Ammons awarded a Life-Gets-Better Scholarship and 11 partial scholarships ranging from $8,000 to $80,000. Three of the partial scholarships were awarded to community college students.

“It was a great tour,” said Ammons. “It gave us an opportunity to recruit some of the best and brightest students the state of Florida has to offer. “I believe we achieved what we set out to do. We wanted students and their parents to know that even though these are tough economic times for many, FAMU has made a commitment to the academically talented.”

In addition to recruitment activities, Ammons participated in several meetings targeted at advancing the university. He had a corporate visit at Florida Power and Light and met with management at NBC 6 in Miramar. He also met with the editorial boards at the Miami Herald and the Florida Sun-Sentinel.

“We are grateful for all of the support that we received from alumni in Gainesville and Broward County, supporters and friends,” said Ammons.

Alumni in Gainesville and Broward County, along with personnel at local school districts, assisted university officials in informing qualified students about the education receptions.

For a complete list of the scholarship recipients visit,

Friday, March 13, 2009

FAMU Alum Dierdra Zollar to Deliver Keynote Address at Annual Honors Convocation

Dierdra Zollar, senior editor of the Mahogany and Tree of Life lines at Hallmark Cards, Inc., will be the keynote speaker for the annual Florida A&M University (FAMU) Honors Convocation.

The convocation is scheduled for 10:10 a.m. on Thursday, April 2, at the Perry-Paige Auditorium. All honors students, those with a GPA of 3.0 or higher, are invited and encouraged to attend.

Zollar graduated from FAMU in 1990 with a bachelor’s of arts degree in English. Upon completing her undergraduate degree, she began her graduate studies at the University of Pittsburgh in Pittsburg, Pa., via the graduate feeder program, and earned her master of arts degree in literature in 1993.

At the invitation of Emma Dawson, Ph.D., former chairperson of the FAMU English department, Zollar returned to her alma mater and joined the faculty as a writing instructor in the fall of 1994.

She spent six years teaching in the English Department until Hallmark Cards visited FAMU's campus on a recruitment trip for summer interns. Intrigued by the opportunity to pursue a writing career herself, Zollar was recruited for a full-time writing position at Hallmark Cards’ headquarters in Kansas City, Mo. and began her new career as an associate writer in the summer of 2000. Over the next few years, she was promoted to writer then senior writer. Currently, she is a senior editor/writer for both the Mahogany and Tree of Life ethnic card lines at Hallmark Cards, Inc.

One of the highlights of Zollar’s career was having the opportunity to create an inspirational card line title Uplifted, which featured her name and picture on the back of the card. Zollar and Erica Keith (the designer for Uplfited) were also featured in the spring 2006 edition of Professional Women’s Magazine to celebrate Uplifted and Hallmark’s commitment to giving its employees opportunities to fully translate their passions, talents, and beliefs into meaningful product and work.

Zollar enjoys teaching the pre-school class at her church, mentoring teenage girls, being a wife and a mom to her three-year-old son.

FAMU Graduate Dean Gives “Best Practices” Presentation for U.S. Department of Education

Chanta M. Haywood, Ph.D., dean of the Florida A&M University (FAMU) School of Graduate Studies and Research, recently delivered a “best practices” presentation at the national meeting and technical workshop of the U.S. Department of Education’s Graduate Assistance in Area of National Need Program (GAANN).

More than 300 administrators and faculty members from research institutions around the country heard Haywood speak specifically about best practices in managing the grant, particularly in the area of institutional commitment.

This is the second time Haywood has been invited to speak to this prestigious group because of the active role she has played in securing and expertly managing more than $3.6 million in funds from this federal agency. Since 2001, FAMU's GAANN funds have supported 30 master’s and doctoral students in physics, medicinal chemistry, mechanical engineering, civil and environmental engineering, and electrical engineering. Of these students, eight have received Ph.D.s, five have received master’s degrees, and 12 are ABD (All-But-Dissertation) and expected to graduate in the 2009-2010 academic year. The others are making satisfactory progress towards completing their research.

“Dr. Haywood is developing a graduate program focused on increasing the number of minorities that are earning Ph.D.’s,” said FAMU President James H. Ammons. “She has several innovative initiatives in place to carry out that agenda. Her participation in this meeting showcases the school’s efforts and other FAMU faculty who are doing an outstanding job in sustaining the university’s research agenda.”

Cossette Ryan, director of the GAANN Program, stated that Haywood's presentation was so “excellent and well-received” that it will be placed on the U.S. Department of Education’s website per attendees’ request.

“I am honored to have been asked to speak and that those present felt that the model we have in place at FAMU is replicable,” said Haywood. “I think that the attendees were pleased with the comprehensive approach that FAMU has taken in showing its commitment to writing and managing the GAANN grants. Our commitment really shows best practices in intra-campus collaborations.”

She co-wrote the grants by working closely with what she calls “the dream teams of experts” in the grant fields. They are Reginald Perry, electrical engineering, Seth Ablordeppy, medicinal chemistry, Kamal Tafiq, civil and environmental engineering, Emmanuel Collins, mechanical engineering, and Mogus Mochena, physics.

“They all deserve credit for being so committed to the program," said Haywood.

FAMU’s Provost Cynthia Hughes Harris is excited about the national visibility that such presentations bring to FAMU.

“This certainly brings attention to FAMU’s role as a key player in addressing areas of national need and in being a leader in graduate education and grant management,” said Hughes.

This year, Haywood will lead the effort to build teams to write grants to support 21 students in nursing, chemistry, and physics.


Excitement was in the air as members of the visiting team for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges (SACS-COC), applauded the work of the Florida A&M University (FAMU) campus in its efforts to reaffirm its accreditation.

“In terms of the report, you should be very, very proud,” said Carol Z. Garrison, Ph.D., chair of the visiting team and president of the University of Alabama at Birmingham. “You knew what this process was all about — creating a stronger and better university.”

“I am very proud of your QEP (Quality Enhancement Plan),” she went on to say. “Overall the plan was well thought out and developed. I could feel all of the excitement around campus about it, even from the students. The biggest challenge will be channeling all of this excitement and making sure you remain focused.”

While the visiting team had two recommendations — one regarding the standards and one regarding QEP — the decision regarding whether FAMU’s accreditation will be reaffirmed will be made at the Commission’s December meeting in Atlanta, Ga., noted Joseph H. Silver, Sr., Ph.D., vice president of SACS-COC. Silver also pointed out that one out of a possible 77 compliance standards was not bad.

“I am proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish,” said FAMU President James H. Ammons. “To be here with two recommendations is truly phenomenal.”

The recommendations were related to Comprehensive Standard 3.7.1 and the QEP. Standard 3.7.1 deals with the “employment of competent faculty members qualified to accomplish the mission and goals of the institution.”

The visiting committee found a relatively small number of faculty not in compliance with Standard 3.7.1.

“You will have from now until December to address this,” Garrison said. “It may be a case of providing more information or evaluating the teaching assignments of a few individuals. I’m sure you will have your arms around it soon.”

Regarding the QEP, J. Patrick O’Brien, Ph.D., president of West Texas A&M University, said that the university needed to develop an annual program of assessment to measure the outcomes. O’Brien said this would provide the university with a mechanism to determine if changes need to be made and the overall impact of the QEP. He noted that the findings of the assessment should be communicated with the campus.

The QEP grew out of a broad-based institutional process that identified key issues emerging from the campus assessment of the institution. FAMU’s five-year QEP is titled “Enhancing Performance in Critical Thinking.”

“We were able to work as a team and complete this process,” said Ammons. “We are here with only two recommendations because of a lot of sleepless nights and the dedication of faculty and staff. I am proud of this campus.”

Thursday, March 12, 2009


Hello Rattlers:

I’m James H. Ammons, president of FAMU. I set up a twitter account.

This week, get first hand accounts from me about my tour. I’m looking forward to us remaining connected. Here’s the url: for my twitter account:

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

FAMU Board of Trustees Member Spurgeon McWilliams Honored by His Patients

Florida A&M University’s Board of Trustees Member Dr. Spurgeon McWilliams has been honored with a Patients’ Choice Recognition award. Every month, more than 400 patients across the U.S. provide online feedback about their experiences with their doctors. They rate various components such as bedside manner, doctor-patient face time, degree of follow-up, courtesy of office staff and overall opinions.

“This is like a Grammy for me,” said McWilliams. “To be recognized by your patients and know that they are happy with the services you provide them is quite an honor.”

The Patients’ Choice award is tabulated by MDx Medical, Inc.

“I applaud and commend Trustee McWilliams on this distinguished recognition,” said FAMU President James H. Ammons. “He is truly a wonderful asset to the Tallahassee community and FAMU.”

Of the nation’s 720,000 active physicians, less than five percent were accorded this honor by their patients in 2008.

McWilliams’ distinction as a Patient’s Choice physician will be prominently displayed in his profile on a broad collection of web sites including, and a variety of managed care sites.

McWilliams has maintained a private practice in the specialty of obstetrics and gynecology in Tallahassee since 1975. He has served on numerous boards and commissions, including the Florida Commission on Ethics, and the Tallahassee Community College Board of Trustees. He was the first state consultant to the Florida Medicaid Program. He has been a member of the Executive Committee of the Florida Obstetric and Gynecologic Society since 1996. In 2002-2003, he served as president of the Florida Obstetric and Gynecologic Society and simultaneously served as president of the Florida State Medical Association.

He earned a bachelor’s degree from FAMU, and graduated from Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tenn. He is board certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Former FAMU Faculty Publishes Book on Professional Development Skills

Nathaniel Wesley, Jr., a former Florida A&M University employee for more than 10 years, has published a book that expounds on concepts he developed as professor at FAMU.

The book, titled “Professional Development Dictionary and Guide for the Health and Allied Health Professions,” is a practical resource for enhancement of professional development. Wesley also introduces his “ABC Concept,” attitude, behavior competence, discipline and excellence.

“The idea is to provide a better understanding of the terms and terminology that govern personal and professional development,” Wesley said. “This would give individuals some insight as to the impact that professional development has on a career.”

Wesley worked at FAMU from 1994 to 2006 as a faculty member in the School of Allied Health Science, as the associate director of the Institute of Public Health and the director of the Division of Health Care Management.

Wesley received his bachelors of science degree from FAMU and a master of hospital administration degree from University of Michigan, Ann Harbor, Mi.

Monday, March 9, 2009

FAMU Law Trial Teams Leave Mark at Competitions

Demonstrating their superior advocacy skills, three teams of Florida A&M University College of Law students received high honors at regional trial competitions and two of those teams are advancing to the finals at the national level.

The American Bar Association (ABA) Client Counseling Team comprised of third-year law students Ricky Favors and Seyi Jemmott won their Regional Competition and will represent FAMU and Region 5 in the ABA National Finals in Durham, North Carolina from March 13 through 14. The FAMU team beat out a total of 11 competing teams and placed first for preliminary rounds through the finals. Elizabeth Kirk, a recent FAMU College of Law graduate, coached the team. As a consequence of this win, FAMU Law will host the ABA Client Counseling Competition next year.

The Trial Team of third-year law students Alexis Carter, Crystal Harmon, and Christine Richardson, and second-year law student Daniel Whitley were the first runners-up at the Southern Region Black Law Students Association (BLSA) Thurgood Marshall Mock Trial Team Competition in Nashville, Tenn. The second-place finish makes the team eligible to compete at the BLSA National Competition in Irvine, Calif., March 18-22, 2009. Richardson was named Best Advocate in the competition. The team was coached by staff Attorney Ka'Juel Washington, a member of the inaugural FAMU law class.

The Moot Court Team of second-year law students Sean Campbell and Truleia Fuller represented FAMU law in the Southern Region BLSA Frederick Douglass Moot Court Competition held in Nashville. The team advanced to the quarterfinal round with an undefeated record before being eliminated. Campbell was named Best Oralist in the competition. The team was coached by Professor William Henslee.

“The success of our law student teams in trial competitions demonstrates how seriously we take our advocacy training,” said LeRoy Pernell, dean of the FAMU College of Law.

Photo caption – From the left to right: Seyi Jemmott (3L) and Ricky Favors (3L) won the American Bar Association( ABA) Client Counseling Regional Competition and will represent FAMU and Region 5 at Nationals in Durham, N.C.

FAMU Hosts Meeting with Head of Government for the Island of St. Maarten to Strengthen Memorandum of Agreement

Commissioner Sarah Wescot-Williams, head of Government of Dutch for the island of St. Maarten, wants to strengthen the existing memorandum of understanding between Florida A&M University and St. Maarten. She wants to increase St. Maarten’s student enrollment, student and faculty exchange opportunities, research collaborations, capacity building and economic development.

FAMU’s Office of International Education and Development Interim Director Joseph V. Jones conducted the meeting.

“This meeting was to first celebrate and fortify an agreement,” said Jones. “Second, we want to strengthen our partnership, which allow students to come to FAMU.”

The university in St. Maarten only offers an associate degree. However, the local university does have some partnerships with other universities, which allow students to receive a bachelor’s degree.

“Currently we are looking to help develop St. Maarten’s education capability,” said Jones. “Our goal is to advance their education offerings.”

The island of St. Maarten is part French and part Dutch. The larger portion that is owned by the Dutch is moving to become an independent country within the next two years. To assist St. Maarten in their development, FAMU will provide professional, government and business development training. FAMU wants to send some of its faculty to St. Maarten to train their faculty. Also, allow some of St. Maarten faculty members to come to FAMU and receive training within its facilities.

“This would give advance training and will help move them along in offering master’s and Ph.D. degrees,” said Jones. “This is a long-term-goal.”

FAMU is looking to focus on health, education and business initiatives with St. Maarten.

FAMU’s deans and assistant deans had the opportunity to express their appreciation of St. Maarten students.

“Caribbean students are some of the best and brightest among the business school,” said Lydia McKinley-Floyd, Ph.D., dean of School of Business and Industry. “We look for diversity and culture diversity is needed.”

Commissioner Wescot-Williams was pleased to hear from each college representative as they extended their support in continuing the agreement that has been established with FAMU.

“I am very satisfied that the departments see the need of expansion,” said Commissioner Wescot-Williams.

The Commissioner presented several awards to outstanding faculty members and a FAMU student. Among the recipients was Joseph V. Jones; FAMU’s St. Maarten students’ campus mother, Ada P. Burnette, Ph.D.; McKinley-Floyd; and Jomar Floyd, 22, a senior healthcare student from Orlando, Fla.

The Head of Study Financing of the St. Maarten Department of Education Calvin Mardembrough accompanied Commissioner Sarah Wescot-Williams.

“This was a very successful trip,” said Mardembrough. “I’m glad to renew a commitment to work and enhance what we have, which is getting students an education.”

Mardembrough has worked as head of study financing for eight of the 10 years partnership.

“I deal with the students personally,” said Mardembrough. “I recommend them to come here, to FAMU.”

Commissioner Wescot-Williams and Mardembrough also attended a town meeting with FAMU, the City of Tallahassee, Florida State University and Tallahassee Community College officials.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

FAMU Student Selected As Public Health Education Fellow

Florida A&M University Institute of Public Health MPH candidate Roxie Zarate was selected as one of the Society for Public Health Education/Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry (SOPHE/ATSDR) Fellows. The fellowship is designed to support the training of a new generation of environmental health researchers and practioners in the behavioral sciences. The Institute of Public Health is housed within the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

Zarate will work with the Florida Poison Control Information Network to evaluate data associated with chlorine injury. Additionally, she will develop an outreach program designed to reduce exposure and injury and will present her findings at the 2009 SOPHE meeting in Philadelphia, PA, November 5-7, 2009.

“I’m excited about the opportunity to participate in research and to translate that research into an outreach program that may help reduce chlorine associated morbidity in Florida,” said Zarate.

Zarate has also been invited to submit a manuscript to the peer-reviewed journals of Health Education and Behavior or Health Promotion Practice.

“We are so proud of Roxie and her diligence and commitment to public health research that will aid in the prevention of unnecessary illness and death related to chlorine exposures,” said Cynthia M. Harris, Ph.D., director and professor for the Institute of Public Health.

Henry Lewis, III, Ph.D., dean and professor said, “We commend Ms. Zarate for being selected as a SOPHE/ATSDR Fellow in Environmental Health Promotion. As a College, we motivate our students to be competitive nationally for these types of fellowships and research initiatives that can improve the health of all Floridians.”

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

FAMU Faculty Senate Offers Monetary Assistance in Advancing the Institution

In the midst of a struggling economy, the Florida A&M University Faculty Senate has pulled together to establish a source of monetary aid for FAMU faculty members for professional development.

The FAMU Faculty Senate Travel Grant (FFSTG) provides monetary assistance to support faculty members who help advance FAMU into the forefront of universities in the world.

“In this time of budgetary cuts, faculty members are still expected to bring excellence to the classroom and carry out the other duties pertaining to scholarship,” said Maurice Holder, faculty senate president and member of the FAMU Board of Trustees. “These travel awards are a small way to help deserving faculty attend meetings and present their scholarly work while bringing added recognition to FAMU.”

According to Roscoe Hightower, Ph.D., chair of the Faculty Senate Travel Grant Committee, funding for the grants came from a combination of the FAMU Faculty Senate, the Division of Academic Affairs and the Office of the President’s budgets. Hightower is also a professor of marketing for the FAMU School of Business and Industry.

“This was first time we implemented such an effort, but we hope and expect for it to become bigger as we move forward,” Hightower said. “It is tough in these financial times and this monetary amount is small, but it’s a great start.”

FFSTG provides support for faculty wishing to attend professional meetings, conferences or workshops that address research, teaching or institutional issues, and individual growth or professional development. The grants can only pay for travel, per diem, and fees for attending events in the faculty members’ discipline.

They may only be used to cover travel to a professional meeting where the faculty member will be presenting a paper or poster representing research conducted at FAMU. A maximum of $1,000 will be awarded per FAMU school, college or institute per semester.

To be eligible for the FFSTG the applicant must be tenured or tenure-track member of the FAMU faculty or a librarian and have not received a FF0STG in the previous 24 months.

For more information on the FFSTG or to obtain an application, call the Office of the Faculty Senate at (850) 599-3023 or visit

Monday, March 2, 2009

Governor Crist Appoints FAMU Alumna to the Board of Pharmacy

Florida Governor Charlie Crist appointed Florida A&M University College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences (COPPS) alumna Cynthia R. Griffin, PharmD, FASHP, to the Florida Board of Pharmacy for a four-year term starting February 13, and ending October 31, 2012.

A member of the Class of 1983, Griffin is the director of Pharmacy Government Programs for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida.

The Florida Board of Pharmacy is the governing body responsible for pharmacy practice, regulations, licensure and certifications of Interns and Pharmacists. Additionally, the board responds to disciplinary actions, analyze changes in the practice of pharmacy, examine changing trends in pharmacy services, and continuing education monitoring, to name a few of the Board’s responsibilities

Griffin said, “I am elated to have been selected by Governor Crist to serve on the Florida Board of Pharmacy. The education and training I received at Florida A&M University’s College of Pharmacy has been a tremendous asset toward helping me excel in the pharmacy profession. I am excited and look forward to the opportunity this position will provide for me to continue to serve the pharmacy profession.

Griffin, a native of Quincy, Fla., she is married to Pastor Mark L. Griffin. She has two daughters, Whitney D. Griffin, a P1 PharmD candidate, enrolled in the College of Pharmacy Program at FAMU and Crystal R. Griffin, a pre-pharmacy student, also enrolled at FAMU.

“We congratulate Dr. Griffin on this prestigious appointment,” said Henry Lewis III, dean and professor of FAMU’s COPPS. “I am confident that the health of the people of Florida will be better because of her service in this capacity.”

WANM Radio Named Best College Radio Station and Journey Magazine Named Best College Magazine

Florida A&M University’s School of Journalism and Graphic Communication has been recognized for excellence. WANM radio, Journey Magazine, and four journalism and graphic communication students have all been named “2008 Best of the South” contest winners by the Southeastern Journalism Conference (SEJC).

“I’m very proud of our staff for their hard work and dedication in keeping the station relevant and for consistently delivering high quality content to the FAMU and Tallahassee radio market,” said Keith Miles, station manager for WANM. “I’m thankful to our listeners who consistently tell us what’s working and what’s not. We’re proud to be a resource that our community counts on for news, sports, information and entertainment and are committed to continue excellence in broadcasting.”

The competition included students from 32 colleges and universities in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Brent Hatchett, a senior broadcast student from Detroit, Mich., was the first place winner in the “Best Television Journalist” category. Hatchett, who previously worked part-time at WTXL-TV, served as a FAMU TV 20 news anchor in the fall 2008 and regularly hosts a gospel program on WANM 90.5, also recently won a Hearst Award for one of his TV news packages.

Xion Lester, a senior broadcast student from Tallahassee who also is an anchor for FAMU TV 20 News at Five, won third place in the “Best Radio Journalist” category.

Leitoya Snelling, a junior arts education student from Tallahassee, won first place in the “Best Magazine Layout” category. Taylar Barrington, a freshman photography student from Stone Mountain, Ga., received an honorable mention in the Best Press Photographer category.

“We congratulate the winners,” said James Hawkins, Ph.D., dean of the FAMU School of Journalism and Graphic Communication. “We’re delighted that our students placed extremely well in this competition.”

FAMU Kicks Off Second Annual President’s Tour: FAMU Up Close and Personal

Florida A&M University (FAMU) President James H. Ammons will kick off his Second Annual President’s Tour beginning March 12 through March 14 in an effort to boost the university’s enrollment. Ammons will meet with students, parents, business executives and alumni in the Gainesville and south Florida areas as he works to continue building enrollment. This is a shortened tour in light of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) team campus visit. The team visit is a part of FAMU’s reaffirmation of accreditation process.

The President’s Tour is sponsored by Coca-Cola and NASCAR.

Two receptions have been planned. The first is in Gainesville at Springhill Missionary Baptist Church, 120 SE Williston Road, Gainesville, Fla. on Thursday, March 12, at 6 p.m. The second is scheduled for Friday, March 13, at 6:30 p.m. in Fort Lauderdale at the Renaissance Fort Lauderdale Hotel located at 1617 SE 17th Street, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Additionally, the university will make a stop at Palm Beach Lakes High School.

High school seniors and their parents are invited to attend. Scholarships will be award on the spot. To qualify, a student must be a National Achievement Semifinalist majoring in one of the following STEM programs: biology, chemistry, physics, environmental science, or mathematics who has an 1100 (R&M) SAT score or 23 ACT. Other students who have at least a 3.5 GPA and scores of 1300 (R&M) SAT score or 29 ACT are also eligible. Recipients of this scholarship will also receive a stipend each semester for miscellaneous expenses and internship opportunities. FAMU will also offer a full scholarship called the Distinguished Scholar Award to students who have 1200 on the SAT or 27 on the ACT and a 3.5 GPA or better. Partial scholarships will be offered to incoming freshmen who have at least 1100 on the (R&M) SAT or 23 on the ACT and a minimum GPA of 3.0.

“During these dark and gloomy times, FAMU is on the road to reassure students and their families that education is key to realizing their dreams for bright futures,” said Ammons. “This tour is a personal reminder that college funding is available and that we are encouraging donors to support these students’ dreams.”

The FAMU Connection, the University’s recruitment/performing group, will provide entertainment. Several FAMU administrators, Presidential Ambassadors, members of the FAMU Royal Court, colleges and schools representatives and alumni will accompany President Ammons.

Last year, Ammons and a team of administrators, recruitment advisors, and students toured eight cities which included Jacksonville, St. Petersburg, Miami, Pensacola, Dothan, Ala., Daytona Beach, West Palm Beach and Sarasota.

For more information, contact Sharon P. Saunders at (850) 599-3413.

FAMU Recognized for Outstanding Community Service

Florida A&M University was recognized for its outstanding community service by the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) for its efforts in recruiting more than 400 African Americans onto the National Marrow Donor registry.

FAMU was one of the top three historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) to register students as bone marrow donors.

Saundra Inge, director of FAMU’s Student Activities said, “We have done a lot of work with Relay for Life and Big Bend Cares. We are broadening our reach and providing new experiences for our students.”

Coordinators for the FAMU Bone Marrow Drive were Alex DeJarnett, FAMU’s coordinator for Greek life and community involvement, and William Johnson, a FAMU residence director. They received an award for their efforts in organizing the campus-based campaign.

“It was a great opportunity for FAMU to rise to the challenge,” said DeJarnett. “I was glad the faculty, staff and students responded.”

According to the National Marrow Donor Program, on any given day, more than 6,000 men, women and children are searching the National Marrow Donor Program Registry for a life-saving donor.

“We are looking at dates this spring to do it again,” said DeJarnett. “We are already thinking of other ways to raise the number of donors.”