Monday, June 29, 2009

FAMU Board of Trustees Approves the 2009-2010 Budget

The Florida A&M University (FAMU) Board of Trustees (BOT) voted to approve the preliminary operational budget for the 2009-2010 fiscal year, which includes a $16.2 million reduction.

“It has been a painful two years with the severe and permanent cuts the university has had to sustain,” said Daryl D. Parks, member of the FAMU-BOT. “The administration and staff have worked diligently to prioritize permanent employees and academic programs and faculty. Although we could honor these with previous cuts, we will not be able to continue this protection.”

The budget will go into effect on July 1, the start of the new fiscal year, and include layoffs. Layoffs will affect non-permanent faculty, administrative and professional (A&P) and university support personnel system (USPS) employees.

According to FAMU President James H. Ammons, because of the nearly $8 million in stimulus dollars, FAMU will offer recall/reemployment opportunities in 76 of the 120 affected positions. FAMU will bring back those employees in time-limited positions.

“Our guiding principles in developing the budget reduction plan was to maintain our academic programs and retain as many of our permanent employees as possible,” Ammons said.

Ammons thanked the delegation and Legislature in general for their work during the 2009 session. He said the impact of the budget cuts would have been much more severe without legislative support for higher education.

Both Rep. Michelle Rewinkel Vasalinda, District 9, and Rep. Alan B. Williams, District 8, joined Ammons at a press conference regarding the budget reduction. They agreed that they will go into the next legislative session to work harder on funding and preserving higher education in Florida.

“State workers are one of the main economic drivers,” Vasalinda said. “We are part of a team, and when we cut these jobs you’re taking away from the local businesses. We will look for other ways to fund higher education and continue to fight and do all we can do to invest in it. Cutting from higher education is not the smart or the right thing to do.”

Rep. Williams echoed her sentiments.

“It is tough and hard to be here to talk about the issues that the president and the leadership team have to deal with because of the harsh economic situation,” he said. “We have to remember and understand the significance of higher education, and we will go into our next legislative session and work harder to invest in it.”

Since July 1, 2007, FAMU has experienced $16.7 million in permanent cuts from its state appropriation. This brings the total budget reduction to over $33 million.

Friday, June 12, 2009

FAMU is Looking for Student-Models

Florida A&M University (FAMU) prides itself in putting its best face forward and you, the student, can help.

FAMU is in search of energetic students to be part of a series of summer photo shoots that will be used in FAMU’s recruitment materials, Web site and other official FAMU material.

All interested students should come to Lee Hall, Suite 100 starting Monday, June 15 through Thursday, June 18 to be photographed and fill out a simple questionnaire.

Any questions, please call Angel R. Suri at (850) 561-2499 or email

Professor Discovers New Species of Mayfly

Florida A&M University (FAMU) professor and Fulbright Scholar R. Wills Flowers, Ph.D., recently traveled to Ecuador to do field research when he came across a particularly “beautiful” group of mayflies.

After checking the species’ characteristics against others in FAMU’s research collection, Flowers discovered that he uncovered a new species of mayfly, Thraulodes quevedoensis, in Quevedo, Ecuador.

The Thraulodes were found in a moderately polluted river running through a highly altered agricultural and urban landscape in Western Ecuador.

Mayflies belong to a group that is generally intolerant of pollution, yet this new species was found in a polluted stream. According to Flowers, mayflies and other aquatic insects are used as indicators of water quality, a method called biomonitoring. The more sensitive organisms – principally mayflies, stoneflies and caddisflies – present in a sample, the better the water quality.

Incidentally, the State of Florida is a world leader in biomonitoring and according to Flowers, the William L. Peters Museum Collection of Aquatic Insects, housed in the FAMU College of Engineering Sciences, Technology and Agriculture, is the largest collection of mayfly research in the world.

There is also a keen interest in tropical countries in developing similar protocols in regards to biomonitoring.

However, it needed to be determined whether mayflies in the tropics are really as intolerant of contamination as they are in the temperate world. This is where studies like Flowers’ made a contribution.

United States protocols assume mayflies collectively are indicators of high water quality, but the Thraulodes quevedoensis signals that the assumption might not be entirely true in the lowland tropics of South America.

Flowers offered his theory on why this species of mayflies is able to tolerate the polluted conditions of the river, which gets sewage directly from the city and agricultural pollutants from farms upstream.

“During the wet season, the river gets torrential rains from the Andes Mountains,” he said. “During the dry season there are shallow spots in the river and algae grows. This can act as a purification system, and I believe this can keep the pollutants below critical level.”

According to Flowers, very little is known about insects in the tropics.

“Majority of researchers travel to the Amazon basin, but very few researchers venture into Western Ecuador,” he said. “I believe there is much more to be discovered.”

CESTA Student Awarded Scholarship from The Organization

Shaughnessay Shannon, a senior at Florida A&M University (FAMU), has been selected to receive a $1,000 scholarship from the National Organization for Professional Black NRCS Employees (NOPBNRCSE) also known as “The Organization.”

Shannon is an animal science major (pre-veterinary option) in the FAMU College of Engineering Sciences, Technology and Agriculture (CESTA). She was presented the scholarship award on behalf of "The Organization" by Makola M. Abdullah, dean and director, Land-Grant Programs, FAMU College of Engineering Sciences, Technology and Agriculture, and Cynthia M. Portalatín, USDA/1890 Agricultural Liaison.

A first-generation college student, Shannon is an outstanding scholar with a 4.0 grade point average. After graduation, she plans to enroll in veterinary school and pursue a career as a veterinarian, serving both small and large animals near her family in Jefferson County, Florida.

“I grew up on a small, beef-cattle farm; and I’ve always loved animals,” said Shannon. “As a little kid, I always wanted to be a vet, and I never grew out of that stage.”

This scholarship program is designed to strengthen the long-term partnership between "The Organization," the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and 1890 land-grant institutions for the purpose of increasing the number of students studying agriculture, natural resource sciences and related disciplines. Ten (10) $1,000 scholarships are awarded annually to students pursuing a B.S. degree in the aforementioned fields at one of the 1890 land-grant universities.

For more information about the agricultural sciences or related programs at FAMU, contact Verian Thomas, director, Division of Agricultural Sciences, FAMU-CESTA, at (850) 599-3383 or by email at or visit More information about The Organization Scholarship program is available online at

PHOTO CAPTION: Makola M. Abdullah, dean and director, Land-Grant Programs, College of Engineering Sciences, Technology and Agriculture and Shaughnessay Shannon

Lady Dhyana Ziegler named Genius Laureate

Lady Dhyana Ziegler, PH.D., a professor of journalism at Florida A&M University (FAMU), has been named a Genius Laureate and her biography is published in the newly-released book titled “500 Greatest Geniuses of the 21st Century.” The book was published by the American Biographical Institute and highlights geniuses around the world. Ziegler’s biography is published in the special dedication section of the book for the Albert Einstein Dedication and Genius Laureates.

According to J. M. Evans, chairman of the ABI Governing Board of Editors, “500 Greatest Geniuses of the 21st Century pays particular tribute to a select number of individuals whose biographies appear in the sections of the Albert Einstein Genius Dedication and Genius Laureate. Their names will become etched in living history as some of the greatest components of the 21st Century intellectualism and intelligence.”

Ziegler said, “It’s still surreal and I have yet to really grasp the magnitude of this honor. It is so much bigger than I see myself. However, these honors usually come when someone is dead. I am happy that it is coming during my lifetime and my mother and family are still alive to share this moment in time with me. It is a humbling experience.”

The “500 Greatest Geniuses of the 21st Century” book is only available to research libraries and professionals whose biographies are published in the book. It is registered at the U.S. Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

About Dhyana Ziegler

Ziegler joined the FAMU faculty in 1997 as the Garth Reeves Eminent Scholar in the School of Journalism and Graphic Communication after spending 14 years at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.

In 2007, Ziegler was featured in another book, “The Black Digital Elite,” highlighting African Americans in information technology published by Gale Research. Ziegler is the only woman featured in the book that includes Richard Parsons from AOL/Time Warner, John Johnson, and the late Secretary of Commerce, Ron Brown. Ziegler is also an author who has published two books, several books chapters, and other journals and professional articles on communications and technology. She currently writes a blog for Women that Network. Ziegler has also been selected eight times as either one of the Top 50 African Americans in Technology by and/or the Top 100 in The Black Engineers and Information Technology magazine. She received the honor again this year from Ziegler was selected Alumna of the Year in 2007 at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale (SIUC) and delivered the spring commencement speech for the SIUC College of Education.

In 2008, Ziegler was knighted as a Dame of Justice by Chivalric Order of the Knights of Justice at the University of Cambridge in England. A year earlier, she was awarded a bronze medal for meritorious service from the Chivalric Order of the Knights of Justice at Warwick Castle for her outstanding contributions to education.

As a three-time Governor’s Appointee to the Board of Trustees for the Florida Virtual School, Ziegler serves on several boards including the Southern Scholarship Foundation; the Florida Tax Watch Center for Education, Productivity and Accountability; Florida African American Education Alliance; the Florida Black Chamber of Commerce; and serves as co-chair of the Ambassadors for the University Center Club. She also serves on the Board of Visitors for the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, College of Communications, where she taught for several years. Ziegler was also appointed to a five-year term on the academic board for the London College for Higher Education. The London College is an international university and includes scholars from around the world. She is the only female representative on the board. Ziegler is also a member of the Tallahassee Kiwanis Club, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Delta Kappa Gamma, Phi Kappa Phi and several other honorary and civic organizations.

Throughout her academic career, she has received several honors and awards for her achievements and is a charter inductee in the University of Tennessee’s African American Hall of Fame. She is credited for being the only African American elected as the president of the Faculty Senate in the history of the University. To date, she still holds that status.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

FAMU Students Plan for an Extraordinary Summer

Florida A&M University (FAMU) students will use their summer vacation to apply skills learned in the classroom to real life situations.

Like many other college students in the nation, FAMU senior Georgia Dawkins has a summer job. Unlike others, she will be working at ABC News for Good Morning America and America this Morning.

FAMU graduate student Thaddeus Payton is taking his success in the agriculture industry. Payton, who recently won first place for the emerging technology category at the 15th Biennial Research Symposium sponsored by the Association of Research Directors (ARD), Inc., will study abroad in Vienna this summer.

FAMU School of Business and Industry (SBI) students Emerson Naylor, Janelle Mosley and Larrynnee Holloman will all intern this summer with the Board of Governors for the Federal Reserve System.

These FAMU students are bound to have an extraordinary summer.

After obtaining a fellowship with ABC news last year, Dawkins was offered an entry-level position with the company for the summer. In addition to working at ABC, Dawkins was recently named one of the Top 100 Best and Brightest by UWire.

“This is a humbling moment,” Dawkins said. “I am very honored to have been selected as the only representative of an HBCU on the list. I am fortunate because the School of Journalism and Graphic Communication has provided me with multimedia experiences that have helped me reach this point in my career.”

Dawkins is a senior broadcast journalism student from Sebring, Fla.

Founded in 1994, UWIRE is a service devoted to the needs of student journalists. Their aim is to identify and promote the brightest young content creators and deliver their work to a larger audience.

While Dawkins will be busy in New York, Payton will be headed overseas.

Payton, an agricultural sciences master’s candidate, presented a research poster on the functional analysis of key flavanoid genes in North American Muscadinia Variety “noble.” His research earned him first place in the competition shortly before he was scheduled to head overseas to study with world-renowned scientist Margit Laimer, Ph.D. Laimer is famous for her techniques to indentify genes in berries, techniques that are rarely used in the United States. Payton received a $7,000 grant from the University of North Reno that will fund his year-long trip to Vienna, Austria to conduct research with Laimer.

Looking back at his experience at FAMU, Payton, who majored in agribusiness and French as an undergraduate student, feels the FAMU College of Engineering Sciences Technology and Agriculture (CESTA) prepared him well for the future.

“CESTA is probably the most dynamic program at FAMU,” he said. “There are great opportunities here in very diverse fields. People tend to think of farms when they think about agriculture, but the field spans over so much opportunity.”

As Payton is researching in Vienna, SBI students Naylor, Mosley and Holloman will be working for the Board of Governors for the Federal Reserve System in Washington, D.C. The Federal Reserve is the central bank of the United States and provides the nation with a safe, flexible and stable monetary and financial system.

Naylor is part of the FAMU team that won the 2009 Ford HBCU Business Classic competition, while his colleagues, Mosley and Holloman, have held financial internships at Delaware River Port Authority and JPMorgan Chase, respectively.

Mosley is most excited about gaining some incite into the financial industry from more of a governmental standpoint, rather than corporate.

“This is such an interesting time to be part of the financial industry,” Mosley said. “I don’t think I would have had this opportunity if I did not attend FAMU, and SBI in specific. SBI requires students to have three internships prior to graduating. The coursework also allows us to develop our analytical skills, which is something that I plan to put into action this summer during my internship.”

Photo caption: Georgia Dawkins, a FAMU senior broadcast journalism student from Sebring, Fla., is enjoying her summer job at ABC News for Good Morning America and America this Morning.

Art Collins Will Deliver Keynote Address at FAMU’s 2009 Summer Commencement

Art Collins, a Florida A&M University (FAMU) alumnus, will serve as keynote speaker at the 2009 summer commencement. The ceremony is scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday, August 7 in the Multipurpose Center Teaching Gymnasium. Collins is a former Student Government Association President and the first chairman of the FAMU Board of Trustees.

Doors will open for the general public at 5 p.m. and the line of march will begin at 5:30 p.m.

Collins is the founder, president and chief executive officer of Public Private Partnership Inc., an independent strategic planning and political consulting firm. Since 1989, the firm has provided strategic advice to multinational corporations, entrepreneurs, investors, political campaigns, political parties, elected leaders, nonprofits and government organizations.

Collins served as a public liaison within the Obama-Biden Transition Project following the 2008 United States Presidential election. During the 2008 presidential primary and general election campaign, he served as senior political strategist for current United States President Barack Obama. In 2004, Collins was senior advisor to U.S. Senator John Kerry, the Presidential Democratic Nominee during his general election campaign for President of the United States. In 1990, he served as campaign manager for Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Leander J. Shaw, Jr. Collins was a member of the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) Democratic Business Council during the tenure of DNC Chairman Ron Brown.

Collins serves as a member of the Board of Directors and as treasurer of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Political Education and Leadership Institute and is chairman of its think tank, the 21st Century Council. He served as a board member and treasurer for both the CBC Political Action Committee and the CBC Foundation. He serves as a member of the Board of Trustees for the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, Ga. He is also a member of the Board of Advisors for the Alliance for Digital Equality, a bipartisan consumer advocacy organization serving underserved communities on matters that pertain to information technology, telecommunications reform and product awareness.

Florida Governor Jeb Bush appointed him to the Board of Trustees of FAMU in 2001, where he was elected as its first chairman. Following his tenure as a U.S. Senator, the late former Florida Governor Lawton Chiles appointed Collins to the Florida Small and Minority Business Advisory Council and the Florida Prepaid Postsecondary Education Expense Board, where he served on the investment committee overseeing more than $2 billion in investments. Collins was also appointed by former U.S. Senator and then Florida Governor Bob Graham to serve on the Governor’s Business Advisory Council on Education and the State Board of Independent Postsecondary Vocational, Technical, Trade and Business Schools. Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Bob Crawford appointed Collins to the Florida Consumers' Council, where he served as its chairman. He also served as a member of the Tallahassee-Leon County Florida Planning Commission.

In 1982, Collins started his professional career as a systems engineer and account marketing representative with the IBM Corporation. During 1987 and 1988, he served as a deputy receiver and the legislative affairs director with the Florida Department of Insurance. He was appointed in 1989 by the Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives to the position of staff director for the Office of Black Affairs, providing technical and political support to African-American legislators.

Collins received his B.S. degree in accounting from the School of Business and Industry at FAMU. He was awarded an honorary doctorate at FAMU’s spring 2009 commencement. He has studied law at the University of Miami School of Law in Miami, Fla., and abroad at the University of Montpellier in Montpellier, France. He is married to Sela Thompson Collins and has five children.