Friday, December 18, 2009

FAMU Strikers to Perform in Disney Annual Christmas Day Parade

Florida A&M University (FAMU) Strikers have been selected to perform in the Walt Disney World Annual Christmas Day Parade scheduled to air on ABC on Christmas day, reaching 16 million viewers worldwide.

The dance troupe will perform with one of Disney’s artist, Steve Rushton, along with youth dancers from all over the world between the ages of 7 and 15-years-old.

The Strikers will also be featured in the opening performance with the Jonas Brothers, 2008 American Music Award winners and 2009 Grammy nominee for best new artist.

During the Strikers special step performance, host Kelly Ripa will introduce the troop.

“This is overwhelming,” said Brandon Cenningham, 21, a fourth year member of Strikers and a business administration student from West Palm Beach, Fla. “It’s my first nationally televised performance outside of the Marching “100.”

The 16 members of Strikers were contacted a month prior to departing for their fully funded three day trip to Orlando, where they met with Disney’s choreographer who trained the dance troop on step dancing.

“It’s a good opportunity for the university to receive positive exposure,” said Sheprio Hardemon, founder of the Strikers.

Hardemon was contacted by Disney’s representatives requesting the troupe to perform in the 2009 parade.

However, the Strikers are no strangers to the spotlight. The troupe was recently featured on MTV America’s Best Dance Crew as well as BET’s 106 and Park and Apollo Theater.

The group has been invited back to perform for Disney in February 2010 during the Steve Harvey Dreamers Academy, which will incorporate a combination of dance and theater performances. They were also invited back in September 2010 for the Disney Step Show.

It may have been cold outside of Florida A&M University’s (FAMU) Alfred Lawson, Jr. Multipurpose Center Teaching Gymnasium for the 2009 fall commencement, but inside parents, family and friends of nearly 700 FAMU graduates packed the gymnasium near capacity with shouts of joy and excitement.

Among those graduates was Chantell Black, a broadcast journalism major, who left two days after commencement to join her unit in Fort Dicks N.J., before deploying to Afghanistan. Black should have deployed with her unit on September 13; however, her commanding officer allowed her to finish her final semester with the expectation that she would join her unit after graduation.

“This semester I have not been on active duty,” said Black. “I’m in the Reserves. I would typically serve one weekend a month and two weeks a year.”

Black is no stranger to Afghanistan. Black enlisted in the military after high school and spent a year in Afghanistan. Now, almost four years after returning from Afghanistan, Black feels that she is mentally prepared because of her years of experience and education.

Commencement speaker Congresswoman Corrine Brown, a FAMU alumna, encouraged the graduates to be leaders like Black because their leadership is needed today.

“We are facing some very tough times and we are looking for your leadership,” said Brown. “When you are born, we receive a birth certificate and when you die, your family receives a death certificate. The dash between your birth and death stands for what you will do to make this world a better place.”

Graduate Cheryl Truesdell Mitchell, a third generation Rattler, stated she wanted to be a great example for children.

“I wanted to get my master’s degree so I can be a good example for children,” said Mitchell, who received her degree in educational leadership. My experience here at FAMU has been outstanding.”

Mitchell is a first grade teacher at Hawks Rise Elementary in Tallahassee. She is a National Board Certified teacher and the first African American to be named Teacher of the Year at Hawks Rise in 2007.

She received her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from FAMU in 1990.

During the commencement ceremony, FAMU President James H. Ammons presented former FAMU Presidents Walter L. Smith and Frederick S. Humphries with plaques for recognition as President Emeritus.

During the administration of Smith [1977-1985], the University grew to 11 schools and colleges and a Division of Graduate Studies and Continuing Education. In 1984, the University was granted the authority to offer its first Doctor of Philosophy degree, the Ph.D. in Pharmacology.

In 1985, Humphries [1985-2001] became the eighth president of FAMU. The Humphries Years were heralded as a time of unprecedented expansion and achievement. During Humphries’ tenure, enrollment soared from 5,100 [1985] to 9,551 [1992]. And by the 1998-1999 school year, enrollment had reached 12,000 students.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Department of Computer and Information Sciences Awarded More Than $2 Million in Grants

Despite the economic crisis plaguing the nation, Florida A&M University (FAMU) Department of Computer Information Sciences (CIS) has garnered more than $2 million in grants to support academic and research efforts within the department.

The largest of the funds is a $1 million grant from National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to establish the Minority Innovation Challenges Institute (MICI). The purpose of MICI is to get more minority students around the country to become interested in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields by using the NASA Centennial Challenges as a motivating factor.

According to Clement Allen, CIS associate professor and the principal investigator for the grant, the NASA Centennial Challenges are a set of fascinating, monetary contests used by NASA to spur innovations in space technologies. They offer contests where individuals and groups compete for money and fame. For example, there is a contest to design and build a better astronaut glove and a contest to build a robot that can excavate dirt on the moon.

FAMU is the first institution to establish a MICI with funding from NASA, and will work with other minority-serving institutions in the nation to mentor students.

The MICI will mentor students at minority serving institutions around the country. MICI will feature a year-round virtual conference to provide video, question and answer sessions, networking opportunities and other resources, with a focus on a different contest each month.

Through MICI, which is funded for three years, Allen aims to foster further research in technology areas meaningful to NASA. He will also work to motivate students to become involved in STEM disciplines related to NASA and inspire them to seek employment at NASA or a NASA contractor.

“Technology contests have proven to be a powerful way to stimulate student interest in STEM related disciplines,” he said. “MICI will strive to increase the number of underrepresented students participating in these contests.”

The CIS Department was awarded a grant from the U.S. Department of Education through the Minority Science and Engineering Improvement Program (MSEIP) for Integrating Computation into STEM Education. The project, “Computation for STEM Education (C-STEM),” is a three-year, $600,000 award.

The goals of this project are to increase the number of STEM students who graduate with discipline-specific computational skills, and to stimulate increased use of computation in the teaching of STEM disciplines at FAMU. This project has the potential to effect long-term improvement in science and engineering education at FAMU through increased use of computation in the teaching of STEM disciplines. The outreach component of the project includes working with area high school science teachers to promote their use of computation in science courses.

FAMU also received an award from the National Science Foundation for $280,000 to continue to host the Tri-Regional Information Technology Program (Tri-IT).

Tri-IT is an alliance of three colleges – Florida State College at Jacksonville, FAMU and Seminole Community College. The goal is to engage female high school students interested in technology and encourage them to consider college degrees and careers in the field of information technology (IT). It is an “after-school” type program that teaches students about the latest and greatest technology.

“This program, along with the African American Women in Computer Science (AAWCS) scholarship program and the STARS Alliance, has established FAMU as a leader in addressing the shortage of minority women in IT,” said Jason Black, co-principal investigator.

Another $300,000 award from the National Science Foundation will explore the use of studio-based and active learning techniques in formative CIS courses. The project is titled “Evolution to Studio-Based Active Learning.” The project goal is to transform incrementally the instructional paradigm used in formative programming courses. Traditional lecture-based instruction, where the teacher is primarily a transmitter of knowledge, will be augmented by active-learning activities, where the teacher coaches student problem solving and exploration.

Expected project outcomes include higher retention in the CIS major, increased mastery of foundational skills, improved technical communication skills and enhanced critical thinking.

CIS faculty is also working with students on various robotic projects funded by the National Science Foundation. Some of the robots that have been created have the ability to play tag, follow a line around a track and even deliver mail. The central focus of the project is to stimulate interest in computer science.

FAMU President and Mrs. James H. Ammons Share Some Holiday Joy

On the twelfth day of December, Florida A&M University (FAMU) President and Mrs. James H. Ammons shared some holiday cheer by donating bicycles, books and gift cards to more than 300 children in the Tallahassee community. The program benefitted children from Bond Elementary; Fairview Middle; FAMU-Developmental Research School; Oak Ridge Elementary; Griffin Middle; John G. Riley Elementary; Nims Middle; Pineview Elementary Schools and New Beginnings.

Mayor John Marks also participated in the program designed to promote reading.

“It is important we show the community that we care and how important they are to us, especially during this holiday season,” said President Ammons.

One parent, Amanda Love, thought the toy drive, was a wonderful event.

“I think this [toy drive] was very helpful,” said Love, who has a third grader at Pineview and a six grader at Fairview. “The whole program was motivational for the kids. This toy drive is wonderful for those who may be less fortunate than others. FAMU is doing some wonderful things. I hope FAMU keeps up the good work."

One third grader from Bond Elementary was truly excited because he won a bicycle, which was his first.

“I really like the colors because red and black are my favorite colors,” said the third grader. “I hope it stops raining so I can ride it.”

The children were entertained by members of the FAMU Marching “100,” the Boys Choir of Tallahassee, FAMU cheerleaders, Tallahassee Girls Choir of CHOICE and the Mountain Dew Cloggers. Mayor Marks also did a reading of the “Spirit of Christmas.” They also received greetings from the FAMU men’s basketball team.

FAMU will also make a donation to Mothers In Crisis, Inc.

FAMU faculty, staff and students collected more than $15,000 in gift cards, books and bicycles.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Today the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) announced that Florida A&M University’s (FAMU) accreditation has been reaffirmed for a 10-year period with no further reports required and no recommendations.

“We are proud of the work of our accrediting team and the campus community,” said FAMU President James H. Ammons. “Two years ago scathing financial audits hinted toward fiscal instability and uncertainty at FAMU. We have met our challenges, completed the accrediting process and are focusing our energies on creating a 21st Century Learning Center second to none. We have been through some challenging times and it is ironic that at the SACS annual meeting this year we were the presenters this time, telling others how to weather the storm. I can truly say that achieving this milestone was a team effort and confirms the academic and administrative strength of the university.”

Within days before Ammons’ arrival, the SACSCOC announced that it was placing FAMU on a six-month probationary period, the organization’s most serious sanction, aside from withdrawing accreditation. During this same period, FAMU was undergoing the re-accreditation process which was pushed back a year so that the university could make sure it addressed the issues related to the probation — compliance with core standards related to financial and governance issues. Without accreditation, FAMU students would not be able to receive federal financial aid – something more than 80 percent of students receive.

With the public’s trust in the university wavering, Ammons and his leadership team took the reigns in July 2007 with a tough task ahead. However, after numerous hours of work by staff, there was a sign of better days ahead for FAMU.

In December 2007, the State of Florida Auditor General reported that FAMU had received its first unqualified audit in three years. This was a clear sign of the restored fiscal integrity of the institution, but it was not the last.

The true symbol of FAMU’s resurgence as a fiscally responsible and credible institution came in June 2008 when the SACSCOC announced its decision to remove FAMU from probation.

With probation lifted and a clean fiscal bill of health, the FAMU leadership team only had to focus on reaffirmation of accreditation from the SACSCOC.

“We had a very competent staff and we are pleased with the outcome,” said C. William Jennings, chair of the FAMU Board of Trustees. “This is yet another great milestone achieved under Dr. Ammons’ administration.”

FAMU has been accredited by the SACSCOC since 1935. FAMU achieved a significant first by becoming the first historically black institution to become a member of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

SACSCOC is the recognized regional accrediting body in 11 Southern states (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia) and in Latin America for those institutions of higher education that award associate, baccalaureate, master's or doctoral degrees. The Commission on Colleges is the representative body of the College Delegate Assembly and is charged with carrying out the accreditation process.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Student Writers Received Honors from Black PR Wire for Being the No. 1 HBCU

Matthew Beatty, associate director for Public Affairs for Black PR Wire’s Miami-based company, visited Florida A&M University (FAMU) School of Journalism and Graphic Communication (SJGC) to honor a group of FAMU students who had been actively involved in writing for the company’s HBCU Writers’ Project initiative. FAMU was the No. 1 HBCU to submit the most press releases. FAMU won the honor over Johnson C. Smith University, Savannah State University and Florida Memorial University to name a few. FAMU students submitted 29 press releases and 25 were published.

Black PR Wire, an online news service, launched the new initiative called the HBCU Writers’ Project in August of last year. The project was specifically designed to encourage students at HBCUs to write news stories with national appeal, submit the stories to Black PR Wire for critical editorial review, and, if approved, gain visibility for their work through publication on the Black PR Wire web site.

Beatty, a recent graduate of the FAMU SBI five-year program, stated it felt great to come back to FAMU.

“I am excited to be back at my alma mater to honor the students,” said Beatty. “I am a firm believer in an HBCU education.”

Beatty presented each student with a certification and a flash drive. He also presented HP laptop to Gina Kinchlow’s class. The students honored are students in Kinchlow’s class, who is an assistant professor for the public relations sequence in the Division of Journalism.

“For the past three semesters, students in the public relations sequence have been encouraged to submit examples their writing to the project,” said Gina Kinchlow, assistant professor, FAMU’s SJGC. “I’m very pleased with what the students have accomplished.”

One student, Jeanine James, had five articles published, more than any other HBCU student in the project.

“It is wonderful to be recognized,” said James, a senior from St. Croix, Virgin Islands. “This accomplishment is something I can add to my portfolio.”

You can see photos o Black PR Wire honoring FAMU students at

Click on the "Black PR Wire" icon.

About Black PR Wire
Black PR Wire is the nation’s first and largest black news distribution wire service. The company’s database holds a comprehensive listing of more than 1,200 black-owned publications and media and includes a comprehensive listing of key black journalists throughout the United States and the Caribbean.

Black PR Wire delivers its clients’ press releases, video and audio news releases, electronic video messages and electronic newsletters to key reporters, writers, and influential grassroots, social and civic community leaders throughout the country.

Business Students Place Second in National Team Selling Competition

Students in the Florida A&M University (FAMU) School of Business and Industry (SBI) won second place in the Indiana University (IU) Kelly School of Business Center for Global Sales Leadership National Team Selling Competition.

Team members Nicole Crowell, Ashley Alfred, Daniel Murff and Darriel Brown beat out teams from institutions like Indiana University, Penn State University and the University of Toledo. This was the first time FAMU entered the competition.

Following the competition, each member of the team was offered a full-time, selling position at Altria Sales and Distribution, Inc.

“I was thrilled because I knew my team had done a great job, but when I found out that we won second place it validated our performance,” said Alfred, a fourth-year business administration student with a concentration in marketing from Houston, Texas.

“Finding out we won second place was unbelievable,” said Murff, a graduating senior, business administration student from Indianapolis, Ind. “The chance to represent the university in a setting like that was an honor.”

Roscoe Hightower, Jr., associate professor for SBI, served as the advisor for the team and developed a theme for them while they prepared for the competition, “Tenacity plus Preparation plus Conviction equals Unlimited Success.”

“The team had to make personal sacrifices in order to maintain their scholarly efforts as FAMU students while at the same time prepare and fully understand these business cases that pertain to everything they are exposed to in business,” Hightower said.

According to Hightower, one of the largest deciding factors that differentiated FAMU from the other institutions was the students’ ability to “critically think” and apply their knowledge during a pressure situation.

According to Brown, a senior, business administration student from Lakeland, Fla., the team utilized team-building skills they acquired as students in SBI.

“Once we put those teamwork and communication skills to work, we discovered our strong and weak points and we could prepare better for the competition,” he said.

Fellow teammate Crowell, a junior business administration student from Stockton, Calif., said “the team was looked at as the underdogs.”

“This was really one of the greatest experiences ever,” she said. “Being in Indiana, around so many top institutions, many were surprised when we came in second place. I’m vey proud of the work that we put in.”

Each team role played as a fictional Caldaco National Account Supermarket Team whose goal was to introduce a new product, “Foco” brand energy drink, to the fictional Get-a-Lot Supermarket chain. The team had to convince a buyer to accept this new product in a morning appointment limited to 15 minutes. If the buyers accepted the proposal, then a follow up afternoon appointment was scheduled with a group of vice presidents where the team made a sales presentation based on uncovered needs from the earlier appointment. The afternoon presentation was limited to 20 minutes. The teams’ presentations were taped for them to review their performance later and judges provided detailed feedback on each team’s performance.

About the Center for Global Sales Leadership National Team Selling Competition
For three years in a row, the Center for Global Sales Leadership has hosted the National Team Selling Competition "Can't Beat the Experience!" at the Kelly School of Business on the IU Bloomington campus. This annual event is sponsored by Altria Sales and Distribution.

The event was launched as part of IU’s ongoing commitment to prepare today's sales students for the world of work. In today's fast-paced sales world, more companies are turning to a team selling or team consulting approach to their major accounts.

The competition attracts top teams of undergraduate sales students from America's leading universities who wish to pursue high-level, complex sales with an opportunity to practice team-selling simulations. Altria Sales and Distribution employees role play the position of buyers and senior management and also serve as judges.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Office of Communications Creates Photo Gallery on the University's Web Site

The Office of Communications has created a photo gallery on the university’s web site, which is a new feature to keep the campus community, alumni and friends of the university engaged. Individuals can now view the photo gallery at the following link - View photos from the general faculty meeting and the Black PR Wire awards ceremony as well as the Florida Classic, homecoming and much more.