Wednesday, February 16, 2011

SGA President Gallop Franklin to Travel to Russia

FAMU Student Government President Gallop Franklin, second from left, in Washington, D.C., with State University System Chancellor Frank Brogan, University of Florida Student Government President Ashton Charles, and Dr. James H. Billington, the Librarian of Congress who also is chairman of the Open World's board of trustees, which worked with Brogan to select Franklin and Charles for this fall's student contingent being hosted by Russia. It is rare for the selection committee to choose two students from one state and both from public universities.

February 10, 2011

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida A&M University (FAMU) Student Government Association President Gallop Franklin II was selected by the Open World Leadership Center, the Congressional agency working to increase U.S.-Eurasian understanding and partnerships, to travel to Russia this spring as guests of the host country.

“I am very excited,” said Franklin. “This is a great international opportunity to share culture experiences and ideologies. I am very humble.”

Franklin, along with State University System Chancellor Frank T. Brogan, traveled to Washington, D.C. for an informal orientation and to begin formal preparation for the trip.

University of Florida's SGA President Ashton Charles also was selected to participate. Franklin and Charles will be members of the contingent representing about 25 public and private universities nationwide, signifying a great honor to the State University System of Florida. It is uncommon for one state to have more than one representative selected -- and to have both state representatives from its public universities.

“Ashton and Gallop both represent the kind of dedicated and astute students we have today in our System of 11 institutions and more than 300,000 enrolled,” Brogan said. “I know that they will represent us very well as Florida's public universities accept the invitation this first year, and that they will share the knowledge and experiences they gain.”

Brogan was requested to participate in the activities in Washington because the Open World program has Florida in its sights as a State University System from which to have regular participation in future years.

This past November, 15 university student body presidents from across the United States also traveled to Russia to participate in the exchange mission. The travel and all costs are fully funded by the International Relations Department of the Federal Agency on Youth Affairs of the Russian Federation. The student leaders met with their counterparts as well as senior officials in the legislative, executive and judicial branches of power in Russia.

The Open World Center also paid tribute to its 2011 National Grantee of Merit award, which honors the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation of Washington, D.C. The U.S.-Ukraine Foundation has provided hosting for more than 200 emerging Ukrainian leaders for Open World programs since 2006.

The contingent of student body presidents traveling to Russia this fall will stay in Moscow and experience a week of high-level meetings with decision-makers and leaders.

In the U.S., Open World’s national grantees for its programs are competitively selected non-governmental organizations and non-profits. Local hosts provide professional grassroots programming as well as home stays for individual delegates. The work of the national grantees and local hosts are integral to the Open World program. Open World has introduced more than 16,500 current and future decision-makers from Russia and other countries of the former Soviet Union to American political and civic life, and to their American counterparts. Open World delegates range from first-time mayors to veteran journalists, from nonprofit directors to small-business advocates, and from political activists to judges at all levels. In addition to Russia, Open World also operates dynamic programs in Ukraine and has expanded to Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan.

The U.S. Congress established Open World in 1999 to enhance understanding and capabilities for cooperation between the United States and Russia. In 2003, Congress made all post-Soviet states eligible for the program. Open World promotes partnerships and continued communications between delegates and their American hosts and professional counterparts.

NASA Astronaut Robert Satcher to Keynote Honor's Convocation

Florida A&M University (FAMU) will host its annual Honors Convocation Thursday, March 31, at 10:10 a.m. in Lee Hall Auditorium. NASA astronaut Robert L. Satcher Jr. will serve as the keynote speaker.

Satcher was selected by NASA in May 2004. In February 2006, he completed Astronaut Candidate Training that included scientific and technical briefings, intensive instruction in shuttle and international space station systems, physiological training, T-38 flight training and water and wilderness survival training. Satcher completed his first flight on STS-129 in November 2009. During the mission, Satcher performed two spacewalks. The STS-129 mission was completed in 10 days, 19 hours, 16 minutes and 13 seconds, traveling 4.5 million miles in 171 orbits.

Satcher received a bachelor of science degree in chemical engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1986; a doctor of philosophy in chemical engineering from MIT in 1993; a doctorate of medicine degree from Harvard Medical School in 1994; completed internship and residency in orthopedic surgery at the University of California, San Francisco in 2000; postdoctoral research fellowships at MIT in 1994 and University of California, Berkeley in 1998; and completed a fellowship in musculoskeletal oncology at the University of Florida in 2001.

Satcher has received special honors from Leadership Fellow of American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, ABC Fellow of American Orthopedic Association, UNCF/Merck Research Fellow, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Fellow, Bloomberg Leadership Fellow, Johns Hopkins University and Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society.

Trustee Torey Alston Reappointed to the Board of Trustees

Florida Gov. Rick Scott recently announced the reappointment of Torey L. Alston of Fort Lauderdale to the Florida A&M University (FAMU) Board of Trustees. Alston, 26, is the chief-of-staff for Broward County Commissioner Barbara Sharief and has been reappointed for a term beginning Feb. 4, and ending Jan. 6, 2015.

"I appreciate Gov. Scott, Lt. Gov. Carroll and their team for having faith in my abilities as we continue to move forward," said Alston, who was previously appointed to the BOT by then-Florida Gov. Charlie Crist. "I will continue to work with the Board, Dr. James H. Ammons and all stakeholders as FAMU continues to move from good to great."

Alston previously served as executive director for Florida’s Office of Supplier Diversity and interim executive director for the state's Council on Efficient Government. In 2009, he served as vice-chair of the Florida Council on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys.

Alston, a FAMU graduate, received his bachelor’s degree and an MBA with a concentration in marketing and management. While at FAMU, he served in various roles including class president (two terms), student senator and president of the FAMU Student National Alumni Association. Alston is a life member of the NAACP and the FAMU National Alumni Association. He resides in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

FAMU Officially Opens One of its State-of-the-Art Science Facilities

There may been a chill in the air and an overcast over Florida A&M University (FAMU), but that did not stop FAMU’s Board of Trustees, administrators, faculty, and students from celebrating the official opening of Jones Hall.

“It is an honor to be here to officially recognize the reopening of another campus building,” said FAMU President James H. Ammons.

Ammons shared with the audience that he remembered when he was a student taking classes in Jones Hall.

“I remember when I took classes in Jones Hall,” said Ammons. “This building has meant so much to FAMU and students who have gone on to be leaders in science, technology and mathematics. I’m proud of this renovation. I will continue to support the programs of Jones Hall because they support the mission of the university. Here we are today with a newly renovated state of the art Jones Hall.”

Jones Hall houses the Departments of Biology, Chemistry and Physics. The renovation of Jones Hall included a complete interior renovation and modernization of all spaces, which included updated classrooms, teaching and research laboratories, offices, conference rooms, restrooms, a darkroom and a greenhouse.

Jones Hall was constructed in 1953 and renovated in 1974 and 1993.

“Students have come into this building to enhance their science studies,” said Provost Cynthia Hughes Harris. “This facility will provide our students and future students with a strong learning environment. FAMU is dedicated and ready to serve.”

Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Ralph Turner expressed how Jones Hall is a gateway for all FAMU students during the opening ceremony.
Dianna Martin, a senior biology pre-med student from Boca Raton, Fla., expressed her excitement about the newly renovated Jones Hall.

“I lived in the Jones Hall,” said Martin. “I spend a lot time in Jones Hall studying and conducting research. A lot of times we conduct research with bacteria and viruses. Now we have the latest equipment to ensure that we are getting the best learning experience. Everything is readily accessible. It is so wonderful to have the latest technology. It is great to be able to compete with students from other universities as well as for the University to recruit some of the best and brightest students.”

After graduation, Martin plans to go to medical school to become an infant cardiologist.

“This building is a gateway for all FAMU students,” said Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Ralph Turner. “Jones Hall has been held at high regard and its students can be transformed to scientist, science teachers and dentists. FAMU is a growing institution. This is a good sign for the future of the university.”

FAMU's New Beginnings gets a 'Newer Beginning'

The U.S. Department of Education awarded Florida A&M University (FAMU) with a multi-year grant funded at $183,437 annually until 2014 to support its New Beginnings-Educational Research Center for Child Development (NB-ERCCD). FAMU’s NB-ERCCD provides care for children ages 2 ½ to 5 years of age, and is one of ten campus-based child development centers in the State of Florida.

Reva B. Myers, director of FAMU’s NB-ERCCD and principal investigator for the project is proud that FAMU was one of the three state universities in Florida to receive the Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) grant.

“NB-ERCCD was able to expand program services after receiving the U.S. Department of Education’s CCAMPIS grant award in 2006 and again for 2010 in the amount of $1,464,000 over a eight year period. The funds have been used and will continue to be used for the specific goal of improving the university’s capacity to serve the low-income student/parent population; thereby increasing the retention and graduation rates of low-income students/parents, and improving the quality of student life for all students/parents matriculating at the university.”

The shared goals of the Educational Research Centers are as follows:

* Provide quality childcare services for students/parents, faculty, staff and the surrounding communities;
* Provide an established on-site facility for internship training and practical experience for students needing to fulfill course requirements;
* Provide the necessary population for research projects conducted by faculty and graduate students from various academic departments; and
* Serve as a model facility for the surrounding communities.

K. Ken Redda, professor and interim vice president for Research commended Myers on her leadership and hard work.

“This is the kind of leadership, initiative and drive we need and expect from our administrators, faculty and staff at FAMU, constantly looking out for funding from all sources since direct state funding is dwindling,” said Redda. “The New Beginnings-Educational Research Center for Child Development serves a vital function at FAMU by supporting our students with children. It certainly goes a long way in boosting both our retention and graduation rates. I congratulate the hard work and dedication of Dr. William Hudson, Jr. and Dr. Reva Myers for securing this level of funding for FAMU.”

According to Myers, FAMU’s NB-ERCCD provides a full and comprehensive menu of services to the growing low-income student/parent population on FAMU’s campus through its Project STAARS (Students That Access Affordable Resources Succeed). Project STAARS provides an array of services and activities for low-income students/parents. Services and activities include reduced childcare fees for low-income students/parents; contract with the State of Florida for the Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten Program; contract with Leon County's Early Learning Coalition to subsidize the cost of childcare tuition for low-income students/parents; education and outreach services through resources and referrals; and parent power workshops.

The Center provides services for 93 families in the pre-school program and 20 families in the after-school program. The center is staffed by 17 well-trained individuals with operating hours from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. for pre-school children, 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. for school age children and 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. for evening care students during fall and spring semesters.

For more information on FAMU’s New Beginnings, call (850) 599-3267.

Lyceum Series Presents Award-Winning Opera Singer Kathleen Battle

Florida A&M University (FAMU) Lyceum Series is proud to present Opera singer Kathleen Battle, Friday, March 18 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, March 20 at 4 p.m., Lee Hall Auditorium.

Tickets are $70, $50 and $30. The committee has made 300 tickets available for students with FAMU IDs.

Battle’s voice has been described as one of the “most beautiful in the world” and her music has coveted fans and awards from around the world.

The range of Battle’s repertoire spans three centuries from the Baroque era to contemporary works. She has enjoyed some of her greatest successes in the opera house in repertoire ranging from Handel (Cleopatra in the Metropolitan Opera’s premiere staging of Giulio Cesare) to Richard Strauss. For her Covent Garden debut as Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos, Battle became the first American to be honored with a Laurence Olivier Award for Best Performance in a New Opera Production. She has similarly distinguished herself as one of this generation’s finest interpreters of Mozart as well as the bel canto operas of Rossini and Donizetti.

Battle’s gifts as a singer extend beyond the realm of classical music. Her work as a great interpreter of spirituals is documented on a joint recital with Jessye Norman, Spirituals in Concert. Her pure emotional power in this music of joy and sorrow cuts through all cultural boundaries.

Battle drew considerable attention with the world premiere of Honey and Rue, a song cycle with music by Oscar and Grammy-winner composer André Previn and lyrics by Nobel and Pulitzer Prize- winning author Toni Morrison, commissioned for Battle by Carnegie Hall on the event of their 100th anniversary.

She has performed the work with leading orchestras and in recitals throughout the world. The Los Angeles Times called her performance of this work “spellbinding,” while the Cincinnati Herald remarked, “her voice was like the ebb and flow of the seas as an almost sacred silence enclosed the auditorium.” The recording of this cycle also includes Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915 and arias from Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess.

Battle has established herself as a distinguished recording artist through a wide range of releases encompassing complete opera, concert, choral and solo albums on all major labels. Battle has made immeasurable contributions as an ambassador for classical music, performing for presidents and dignitaries, and attracting diverse new audiences through television broadcasts of her operas and concerts, as well as through appearances on popular network talk shows.

Her performance on the PBS broadcast of the Metropolitan Opera’s 1991 season opening gala won her an Emmy for Outstanding Individual Achievement in a Classical Program on Television.

Praised for the keen intelligence, which informs her musical sensitivity, Battle earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the College Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati. She has been awarded seven honorary doctoral degrees—from her alma mater, the University of Cincinnati; Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey; Ohio University; Xavier University in Cincinnati; Amherst College; Seton Hall University; Wilberforce University; and the Manhattanville College.

In honor of her outstanding artistic achievements, Battle was inducted into the “NAACP Image Award Hall of Fame,” and in 2002 into the “Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame.” She is the first recipient of the “Ray Charles Award” bestowed upon her by Wilberforce University.

For more information, call (850) 599-3413.

Office of International Agriculture receives Grant from the U.S. Department of Education

Under a four-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education, the Office of International Agriculture (OIA) at Florida A&M University (FAMU) is leading the US-EU Excellence in Mobility Program, which expands the university’s international education linkages and academic programs. FAMU is working collaboratively with the BOKU the University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences Vienna, LaSalle-Beauvais in France and the University of Georgia. The program, funded at $180,000 from 2010-2014, builds curricula in the food and agricultural sciences and provides a framework for 48 US-EU student exchanges and 16 U.S.-EU faculty exchanges over the life of the project.

The FAMU OIA began coordinating exchange visits for students and faculty early in January, 2011. Three undergraduate students enrolled in the FAMU College of Engineering Sciences, Technology and Agriculture (CESTA) were selected last fall to participate in the program. Earlier this month, Akie Smythe, Joshua Green (both majoring in international agriculture and business IAB), and Hannah Lovett, a food science major, departed for a semester of study at LaSalle in France. The students received $5,000 each for stipends to support their participation in the program this semester.

Under the faculty exchange component, the OIA is coordinating the first exchange faculty visit from BOKU. Rainer Haas, associate professor of Agricultural Economics in BOKU’s Institute of Marketing and Innovation, has begun his exchange visit with FAMU until Feb. 8.

The primary focus of the faculty exchange is to strengthen and internationalize curricula in key areas prioritized by the grant (i.e. food and agricultural sciences) with a long-term goal of creating more joint courses, integrated curricula, and expanded faculty collaborations to facilitate student internships and experiential learning. FAMU will also establish a new Certificate Program in International Agriculture as one of the deliverables.

“This program is all about improving student training and international opportunities,” says Harriett Paul, director of the FAMU Office of International Agriculture, and the project’s principal investigator.

The FAMU Agribusiness/IAB programs, under the leadership of Michael Thomas, professor and program leader, serve as the hosting academic units. This is the first faculty exchange with the Food Science program, which is headed by Neil James.

“The project’s theme, Meeting Consumer Needs for Safe High Quality Food Products, offers us a great opportunity to work collaboratively in an international context,” said Makola Abdullah, dean and director, Land-Grant Programs, CESTA. Co-PIs on the project are Oghenekome Onokpise, professor and associate dean, CESTA, and Violeta Colova, professor, Viticulture and Developmental Biology.

For more information, contact Harriett A. Paul, director, Office of International Agriculture, at or Betty Hudson at or (850) 599-8867.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

FAMU Alumna is the first African-American Female to Attend the University of Florida MD-PhD Program

Florida A&M University (FAMU) alumna Brittney Newby recently became the first African-American female to be admitted into the University of Florida (UF) MD-PhD program.

Newby, an Atlanta, Ga. native, graduated summa cum laude in the spring of 2009 from FAMU with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry. She was officially accepted into UF’s prestigious program Jan. 18.

“It is very humbling,” said Newby. “I can’t help but to think of all of the people that have paved the way. Without them, I wouldn’t even have the opportunity to partake in this prestigious program. I have dreamed of being a doctor and changing the dynamics of healthcare for pretty much all of my life. I think being the first African-American female accepted is just a bonus. It gives me a chance to provide a good example for those who come behind me.”

The University of Florida’s MD-PhD program was created in 1967. Each year, the program only admits eight students due to the fact that the student’s full tuition is paid along with paying the students a monthly stipend of $1,900 per month. Dr. Lekan Latinwo, chair of FAMU’s Department of Biology, Dr. James Adams, co-chair, and Letina Banks, pre-health advisor, met with the director of the University of Florida’s MD-PhD program Dr. Stephen Hsu and his assistant, Skip Harris, in hopes of increasing UF’s admission of more minority students into their program.

“When I read Brittney’s personal statement, I told her she would be our first student to enter into the MD-PhD program at the University of Florida due to her extensive research experience,” Banks said. “We started working together to make sure this happened.”

Newby currently works at the Children’s Hospital in Boston as a research assistant. In her lab, she investigates the role of genetics on the progression of skeletal disorders, while also investigating the biological aspects of these disorders through mouse models.

“My day-to-day typically involves running experiments, genotyping samples and looking after the mouse colony,” she said. “While working at the Children’s Hospital-Boston, I have been able to gain extensive insight on what entails the life of a physician scientist.”

Newby, who was a player on the Lady Rattler Softball Team, said the university was instrumental in her development as a student and a person.

“At FAMU, I wasn’t just a student, I was a part of a family,” said Newby. “My teachers were amazing — many of which I can still call if I need any advice. While a student at FAMU, sometimes I would think, ‘Why am I learning this or why is the coursework so difficult?’ But as I look back on my time at FAMU, I am very happy to have had such rigorous coursework because it has truly prepared me for medical school.”

After graduation, Newby hopes to work as a pediatric physician.

“Depending on my specialization and field of research, my research will be impacted by my clinical experiences with patients,” she said. “Hopefully, my research will translate into new approaches for diagnosis, prevention and treatment of diseases. Right now, I am most interested in the pathology of disease and the biological mechanisms involved in the progression of disease.”

Law Associate Dean Jeremy Levitt Elected to the American Law Institute

Jeremy I. Levitt, Florida A&M University (FAMU) College of Law Associate Dean for International Programs and Distinguished Professor of International Law, has been elected to the American Law Institute (ALI). Founded in 1923, the ALI is the leading independent organization in the United States producing scholarly work to clarify, modernize, and otherwise improve the law. Its mission of law reform is vitally important given the challenging problems the U.S. faces today.

“Jeremy Levitt's election to the ALI is a testimony to his notable reputation as an outstanding legal scholar and to the caliber of faculty we boast at the FAMU College of Law,” said Dean LeRoy Pernell, who nominated Levitt. “Membership in this elite Institute is indeed an honor for those elected.” ALI President Roberta Cooper Ramo noted that she is delighted to welcome all of the “distinguished and talented new members to the ALI.”

Participation in the Institute’s work allows its members the opportunity to influence the development of the law in both existing and emerging areas. There are just over 4,000 members of the ALI which includes lawyers, judges, and law professors of the highest qualification. The ALI incorporators included Chief Justice and former President William Howard Taft, future Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes, and former Secretary of State Elihu Root. ALI membership is a distinct professional honor.

Levitt is a public international lawyer and political scientist with expertise in the law of the use of force, human rights law, African politics, democratization, state dynamics and regional collective security. He is the author or editor of four books and numerous scholarly articles including: Hurricane Katrina: America's Unnatural Disaster, (eds.) (University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln: 2009); Africa: Mapping New Boundaries in International Law, (eds.) (Hart Publishers, Oxford, UK: 2008); The Evolution of Deadly Conflict in Liberia: From ‘Paternaltarianism’ to State Collapse (Carolina Academic Press: Durham, North Carolina: 2005); and Africa: Selected Documents on Political Conflict and Security, Humanitarian and Judicial Issues, (eds.) (Transnational Publishers: Ardsley, NY: 2003).

Levitt is founder and director of the FAMU College of Law’s Center for International Law and Justice (CILJ), which develops scholarly, educational and practice-oriented activities for students and faculty in complementing FAMU’s international mission. He holds a Ph.D. in politics and international studies from the University of Cambridge-St. Johns College; a J.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison; and a B.A. in political science from Arizona State University.

Maya Angelou Graced FAMU with Phenomenal Words of Wisdom

With a voice that is so soothing and commands an individuals’ full attention, world-renowned poet and author Maya Angelou spoke to a crowd of nearly 6,000 people with songs, poetry, stories and words of wisdom at Florida A&M University (FAMU) as part of the University’s Lyceum Series.

During her presentation, Angelou pointed out that she wanted to speak at FAMU because the institution is a “light in the sky, a rainbow in the clouds.” Angelou continued by saying there are many institutions that young people can aspire to attend, but in some places in the country young people think they will never make it to a university.

“Each one of us has been capable of being rainbows in the cloud, and some of us because of institutions called HBCU,” said Angelou.

Although Angelou said some people could be wiser, hipper, prettier, richer or more educated than others, she stressed that no human being can be more human than another human being.

“When you go into your classrooms do not go in being intimidated by anything that human beings do,” Angelou said.

The famed poet also told students just as they have encountered rainbows in their clouds, they have to be rainbows for others.

“When you get, give,” said Angelou. “When you learn, teach.”

Following her presentation, Angelou answered a few questions from the audience. She was asked how she would feel when she receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest medal given to a civilian in our nation, on February 15.

“I will be accepting it [Presidential Medal of Freedom] for every African that stepped off a slave ship in 1619 and for every Italian, Asian, Greek, Spanish, Muslim, Arab and Jew,” said Angelou. “And to accept it from a black president, I may fall to my knees.”

FAMU Lyceum Series is a university-sponsored program that brings artists, lecturers and performers to the campus as a way of promoting the cultural arts.

Angelou, who is the Reynolds professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University in Winston Salem, NC, has received numerous awards. She has received 65 honorary doctorates; was awarded the Presidential Medal of Arts in 2000; the Lincoln Medal in 2008; and has received three Grammy Awards. She is best known for her series of six autobiographical volumes, which includes “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.”

Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Cynthia Hughes Harris presented Maya Angelou with FAMU's Meritorious Achievement award, which is the University's highest award given to an individual for his or her accomplishments in their field.
“The Florida A&M University Lyceum Series is designed to contribute to the social, intellectual, spiritual and moral fabric of our faculty, staff, students and members of our community near and far,” said FAMU provost and vice president for Academic Affairs and chair of FAMU’s Lyceum Series. “Dr. Angelou’s accomplishments reflect the purpose of the Lyceum Series. As an author, poet, educator and civil rights activist, she was able to bring a powerful message to our community. She is in a class by herself and her words spoke volumes.”

Angelou did bring a powerful message to FAMU said Michael Jefferson, a sophomore at FAMU from Indianapolis, Ind.

“She was absolutely remarkable,” said Jefferson. “To see and hear her first hand validated my life to service others. She emphasized that no one in the world can stop you from anything; that you should never limit yourself. The greatest limitation is the one that you see in the mirror every morning. Her stories about her life, tribulations, pain and progress truly inspired me.”