Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Area Youth Conquer Summer Brain Drain with Science Adventure

Area middle school students are curing the summer “brain drain” this year with a heavy dose of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fun at the ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp hosted by Florida A&M University (FAMU). The hands-on program offers students an exciting way to beat the heat as they design space suits while experiencing life on a college campus.

Founded by veteran astronaut Dr. Bernard A. Harris, Jr., the program targets underserved youth. It is a two-week, all-expenses-paid residential camp that encourages math and science. The ExxonMobil Foundation provides funding and expertise of talented engineers to support the educational experience.

“Summer learning opportunities are crucial to continued academic success,” said Dr. Bernard A. Harris, Jr., veteran astronaut and camp founder. “In partnership with the ExxonMobil Foundation, we are able to offer students a tremendous opportunity to hone the math, science, communications and leadership skills needed to realize their full potential. Our goal is to inspire them to reach beyond the classroom and pursue careers in critical technology fields.”

For the sixth consecutive year, the ExxonMobil Foundation has partnered with Harris and his nonprofit organization, The Harris Foundation, to provide residential camps to underrepresented and underserved middle school students at 25 universities across the country. This is the second year FAMU has had the honor of participating in the program.

“ExxonMobil is committed to inspiring the next generation of creative thinkers and innovators who will be critical to our nation’s economic success,” said Suzanne McCarron, president of ExxonMobil Foundation. “By partnering with Dr. Harris, we are able to provide talented young students with hands-on experiences that could lead them to a career in math, science, engineering or technology.”

During a recent “Space Day” event, students were treated to a visit by Harris where they heard first-hand about his inspirational journey to become the first African American to walk in space and the extreme elements he encountered during his historic spacewalk.

“At Florida A&M University, we understand the importance of partnering with ExxonMobil and others to fuel the pipeline of students needed to keep our state and country competitive,” said FAMU President James H. Ammons. “We are building the next generation of scientists and engineers and we are proud to be a part of the effort.”

Campers were then given the opportunity to become space suit engineers for the day. Students were tasked with designing and creating a space suit swatch capable of absorbing the impact of space debris. Using household items to mimic essential protective materials, students assembled a test sample to submit for friendly competition. Using an “impact tester” to imitate the rigors faced during spacewalks, students were able to test the durability of their sample.

The demand for workers with strong math and science skills is significant as eight out of 10 of the fastest growing occupations in the nation are in STEM fields, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The camp program aims to fill this critical need by offering a curriculum that features hands-on experiments, team competitions and field excursions to help students build essential skills. Campers receive quality instruction from local educators and hear from ExxonMobil engineers about the exciting and rewarding aspects of their profession.

“We have seen this experience positively impact youth in our community, and look forward to witnessing our students’ dramatic growth as they gain valuable knowledge and a passion for math and science this summer,” said Edith Davis, director of FAMU’s ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp. “At FAMU, we understand the important role STEM programs such as these play in preparing students for the high-tech careers of tomorrow.”

About ExxonMobil Foundation

ExxonMobil Foundation is the primary philanthropic arm of the Exxon Mobil Corporation in the United States. The Foundation and the Corporation engage in a range of philanthropic activities that advance education, health and science in the communities where ExxonMobil has significant operations. In the United States, ExxonMobil supports initiatives to improve math and science education at the K-12 and higher education levels.

In 2010, together with its employees and retirees, Exxon Mobil Corporation, its divisions and affiliates, and ExxonMobil Foundation provided $237 million in contributions worldwide, of which more than $110 million was dedicated to education. Additional information on ExxonMobil’s community partnerships and contributions programs is available at

About The Harris Foundation

Founded in 1998, The Harris Foundation is a 501 (c) (3), non-profit organization based in Houston, Texas, whose overall mission is to invest in the community through innovative education, health and wealth programs. The foundation supports programs that empower individuals and their communities, in particular minorities and economically and/or socially disadvantaged, to develop and pursue their dreams.

The Education Mission of the Harris Foundation is to enable youth to develop and achieve their full potential through the support of social, recreational, and educational programs. The Harris Foundation believes that students can be prepared now for the careers of the future through structured education programs and the use of positive role models. More than 10,000 K-12 students participate and benefit from THF programs annually.

Four Journalism Professors Earn Prestigious Summer Fellowships

Four professors in the Florida A&M University (FAMU) Division of Journalism have earned prestigious fellowships this summer to expand their skill sets in advertising, mobile media, crisis reporting and social media.

Gina Kinchlow, an assistant public relations professor, recently returned from a two-week Visiting Professor Fellowship sponsored by the Advertising Education Foundation at Deutsch, a multinational advertising agency in New York City.

Kinchlow, who serves as the adviser for PRodigy, the award-winning student-run public relations firm, presented research titled “Five Years With the PRodigy PR Firm: Observations on a Student-Run Company and Valuable Lessons On Its Usefulness in the Academy and Beyond” in June at the Hawaii International Conference on Social Sciences.

Dhyana Ziegler, a journalism professor, was selected to receive the American Press Institute’s Minority Educator Fellowship and she will attend the API seminar titled “Mobile Media: Opportunities On The Move” July 18 through 19. She also will participate in the American Biographical Institute and the International Biographical Centre’s World Forum June 28 through July 3 in San Francisco. She will present a research paper titled “Social Networking and Globalization: Evolution and Revolution” during the World Forum.

Andrew Skerritt, an assistant journalism professor and adviser to the award-winning Famuan student newspaper, earned a 2011 Dart Center Academic Fellowship at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism in New York City. He received additional in-depth training on trauma and crisis reporting.

Leonard Horton, a visiting assistant journalism professor and adviser to News20 at Five, earned a Journalism Educator Fellowship for “Writing in the Age of Twitter” at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Fla., in May.

“I’m going to have students tweet breaking news updates and collaborate using hashtags on similar stories,” said Horton.

According to Horton, a new website,, will be launched by fall.

“Keeping our students current with industry practices is a high priority,” said James Hawkins, dean of the FAMU School of Journalism and Graphic Communication. “Faculty involvement in these activities support that effort.”

The School of Journalism & Graphic Communication was founded in 1982. Its Division of Journalism was the first journalism program at a historically black university to be nationally accredited by the ACEJMC. It offers four journalism sequences: newspaper, magazine production, broadcast (radio and television) and public relations.

Marching 100 to Host Annual Band Camp and Parade

The Florida A&M University (FAMU) Marching “100” will host its 2011 Band Camp from Saturday, July 9 through Saturday, July 16. The “100” will lend its talent to hundreds of the nation’s best high school band students.

A myriad of students from throughout the United States will arrive for the week-long camp in order to prove their dedication to excellence by emulating the style of the world-renowned Marching “100.” The participants will showcase their new skills and moves to the Tallahassee community at the annual band camp parade scheduled for Thursday, July 14, at 2 p.m.

Each year, the parade features a variety of community schools, organizations and local participants for a unique and enjoyable celebration.

The parade route will begin at Bragg Memorial Stadium traveling north on Wahnish Way; a right onto Gamble Street; then another right on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., before ending on “The Set” at the viewing stand.

The Super Summer-Fest Finale Performance, taking place at Bragg Memorial Stadium, is scheduled for Saturday, July 16, at 10 a.m. The show will feature pre-game and halftime performances by the campers. Current and former members of the Marching “100” will also perform in the highly energized “Bring–It-On” session. The community is invited to attend.

Other events include the following:

Wednesday, July 13
8 p.m. – 11 p.m.
Talent Showcase
Gaither Gymnasium

Friday, July 15
3:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Ensemble Concert
Lee Hall Auditorium

7:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
Symphonic Band Concert
Lee Hall Auditorium

Saturday, July 16
11 a.m.
Awards and Presentations
Bragg Memorial Stadium

To request a band camp application or for more information, call the FAMU Department of Band at (850) 599-3024.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

FAMU Alumnus James Bland Wins Shadow and Act Black Filmmaker Showcase

Florida A&M University (FAMU) alumnus James Bland was recently recognized as the winner for Round 1 of the inaugural Shadow and Act Black Filmmaker Showcase. Bland’s short film entry, “Cocoa Love,” garnered 46.7 percent of the 14,220 votes.

“It felt incredible to win Round 1 of the Shadow and Act Digital Filmmaker's Showcase,” he said. “It's one of the most respected entertainment and film blogs amongst the industry and it's really a privilege to have my work featured on the site. I discovered my passion for film while a student at FAMU. My film roots are deeply connected to FAMU and the university helped me to realize my potential.”

Bland earned his degree from FAMU’s School of Business and Industry in 2008. While a student, the multi-talented filmmaker wrote and directed his first feature film, “Dreaming in Color.”

“I’ve grown tremendously as a filmmaker since ‘Dreaming in Color,’” he said. “I often say that I'm cut from a different cloth than my peers, and I realize that it was the FAMU experience that sharpened me. Being a student at FAMU showed me what excellence looked like and taught me that mediocrity as a standard was unacceptable.”

Bland, a Titusville, Fla. native, said he feels the best way to learn anything is by simply doing it.

“One of the first pieces of advice I received when I was just an aspiring filmmaker was from (director and FAMU alumnus) Rob Hardy,” he said. “I told him I wanted to make films and he told me to pick up a camera and shoot something.”

Following graduation, Bland moved to Los Angeles, Calif. and received his first big studio opportunity working as an intern for producer and FAMU alumnus Will Packer on the movie, “Takers.” Finding a home at Sony Screen Gems, Bland continued to work on the production side of films, such as “Death at a Funeral,” Priest” and “Burlesque.”

“Cocoa Love” has competed in many film festivals around the country, winning Best-Comedy at the Urban Media Makers Film Festival, and airing on the season two finale of Black Entertainment Television’s “Lens on Talent” show.

Currently, Bland serves as co-president of Hometeam Entertainment. The first project to be released under the Hometeam banner is the web series, “FAIL,” where Bland acts and serves as one of the executive producers. He is also directing a documentary titled, “Mission Swaziland,” which is a look at American volunteers on a mission to help the Kingdom of Swaziland, but culture, tradition and politics get in the way.

“I took a hiatus from Hollywood last year and went on a mission trip to the Kingdom of Swaziland, which is one of Africa's poorest countries and the last absolute monarchy,” he said. “My documentary will focus on American volunteers who are committed to helping the Swazi people help themselves as they face challenges from the country’s culture, tradition and politics.”

FAMU Will Welcome Young, Gifted High School Males to Campus

This Sunday, June 12, Florida A&M University (FAMU) will welcome to its campus 24 gifted African-American male high school students from around the United States for the 2011 Distinguished Young Gentlemen of America, Inc. (DYG) National Summer Academy.

The two-week program will feature an innovative accelerated student curriculum focusing on the following topics: advanced African studies and communal values; financial literacy and entrepreneurship; foreign affairs and globalization; leadership and communication; and professional and personal development.

“I applaud and commend these determined and ambitious young men,” said FAMU President James H. Ammons. “It is imperative that we give them support and the necessary skills to be the leaders of tomorrow.”

Distinguished Young Gentlemen of America, Inc. is a national non-profit entity fully committed to addressing a myriad of multi-dimensional issues permeating throughout the world.

The incoming youths, all with grade point averages above a 3.0, will have the opportunity to develop and implement strategies to provide effective leadership on critical issues, learn tangible life skills (oratorical, culinary, mechanical, technical and etiquette) cultivate their entrepreneurial spirit, and broaden their intellectual capacities through reading and analyzing relevant essays, poems and books.

“These young African-American males understand that an education is an essential ingredient to succeed in life,” said William E. Hudson, Jr., interim vice president for the Office of Student Affairs. “This two-week program will provide some of those extra ingredients needed to be the next CEO, doctor, teacher, scientist, lawyer or entrepreneur.”

This year’s participants are as follows:

* Ashton De’Angelo Brown, Jacksonville, Fla.;
* Bakari Ahmad Powell, Edgewater, Md.;
* Hassan Hoza Anderson, Chicago, Ill.;
* Brandon Jerome Bunkem, Charleston, S.C.
* Brian Emerson White, Laurel, Md.;
* Dana Smith, Jr., Lake Park, Ga.;
* Devin Ace Austin, Chicago, Ill.;
* De’Ron Marcus Young, Bowie, Md.;
* Fitzgerald Deshong Light Jr., Jacksonville, Fla.;
* Michael Isaiah Hardy, Jacksonville, Fla.;
* Marcus Alexander Davis, Douglasville Ga.;
* Marckenley Daniels, Palm Coast, Fla.;
* Nyle Jordan Rice, Jacksonville, Fla.;
* Onetha Jonathan Wheeler, Atlanta, Ga.;
* Deedat Kokori Ahmed, Baltimore, Md.;
* Roderick Veney, Beaumont, Texas
* McDonald Michael Fingall, Ellenwood, Ga.;
* Ryan Kendall Blackwell, Chicago, Ill.;
* Samuel Cole, III, Atlanta, Ga.;
* Kendall Martin, Tallahassee, Fla.;
* Jonathan Matthew McMillan, Rex, Ga.;
* James Wesley Jackson, Atlanta, Ga.;
* Vincent JaQuez Williams, Tallahassee, Fla.; and
* Wesley Tyler Rollins, North Charleston, S.C.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

FAMU Teams Up With FSU and Havana Community to Establish the Health and Wellness Service and Training Center

Officials from Florida A&M University (FAMU), alongside Florida State University’s College of Medicine, are working with the Gadsden County School Board and the Gadsden County Health Department to develop a 4,000 square feet state-of-the-art Health and Wellness Service and Training Center at Havana Middle School.

To provide quality health care for students, Havana School Board employees and the citizens of Havana are at the forefront of Shirley Aaron’s, chair of the steering committee, agenda. Aaron is working tediously to congregate FAMU, FSU, Tallahassee Community College, Gadsden County officials and the community to decrease the number of individuals affected by inadequate healthcare in Havana. A large population of the community is living without insurance or receives Medicaid.

“It has been my dream for a long time to have a health and wellness center that serves the people who are underserved, or served in a limited way in Havana,” said Aaron.

According to Aaron, there is one practicing medical provider in Havana, which does not provide medical services for individuals receiving Medicaid.

“We decided to create a center where we have students from pharmacy, allied health, dental hygiene, nursing, physical therapy and medicine working together,” said Dr. Maggie Blackburn, a committee member and director of rural health in FSU’s Department of Family Medicine and Rural Health.

In December 2010, Yvonne Nelson-Langley, program coordinator for FAMU Community Health Alliance, was brought on board bridging the gap between the committee and the university.

“FAMU President [James H. Ammons] and Provost [Cynthia Hughes Harris] really thought it was important that FAMU be involved in health initiatives that are going on in the community so that we can provide support and technical assistance,” said Langley. “Also, we want to know what is happening as we provide different types of training for students as well as activities and community service.”

Langley provided an additional fraction that was necessary for the committee to move forward with restructuring the vacant space into a sustainable state-of-the-art facility by bringing officials from the FAMU School of Architecture to the table.

Gretchen Miller, visiting assistant professor in the FAMU School of Architecture, along with a group of students and professors, met with the steering committee to brainstorm ideas that will maximize the use of space by creating a sustainable facility. The group created three charrettes – architecture models - for the committee.

“We basically made them [the steering committee] better clients by educating them,” said Miller. “A group of students, teachers and advisors took the existing shell of the industrial center with some of the existing walls and created three floor plan scenarios for them to evaluate.”

In addition, the committee received a grant from the Department of Health’s Office of Minority Health to conduct focus groups in Havana to get input from the community on what their needs are. Langley plans to have three graduate students from FAMU’s School of Allied Health, the Department of Social Work and the Institute of Public Health to participate in conducting these focus groups.

“I’m making sure that FAMU’s interest is involved and that there is a voice advocating for our students; I am that voice,” said Langley. “I’m not only excited, but I feel it is imperative that we are involved.”

The program is currently awaiting feedback on two grants that will provide funding for the projects. The New Access Point grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration includes funding for the project as well as supplemental funds to finance renovations. The committee anticipates the facility will open August 2011; initially providing services for Havana students and employees before branching out to the local community.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Marvin E. Green Named Director of Student Activities

Marvin E. Green Jr. has been named Florida A&M University’s (FAMU) new director for Student Activities. Green will officially begin his new position on July 1.

“I am honored and excited that I can serve my alma mater at this capacity,” Green said. “I am excited about the challenges and look forward to helping to produce that millennial student. We have special students at FAMU who are ready to learn to be productive and it is our responsibility to mold and help them to bring out their creativity.”

Green, who currently serves as the FAMU men’s golf coach, said some of his goals include helping with FAMU’s retention and graduation rates.

“I think FAMU is a special place,” he said. “We are always going to bring in the best and brightest minds. We must find a way to keep our students active outside the classroom, which will help make them better students.”

For nearly 20 years, Green has established a notable career at FAMU in intramural/recreational sports and golf. During that time, he has been instrumental in shaping and developing not only the Department of Campus Recreation, but also the highly successful Men’s Golf Program at the university.

“I am very pleased that Mr. Marvin Green was selected as the director of Student Activities,” said Henry Kirby, “Mr. Green will bring the necessary experience, professionalism, vision, energy and team spirit to the position as well as take the Office of Student Activities to a higher level of performance and excellence.”

A Chicago, Ill. native, Green attended FAMU’s School of Business and Industry (SBI) majoring in business administration. While in college, he was active in several groups and organizations including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP); the Upsilon Psi Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.; the Pan-Hellenic Council in which he served two terms as president; and FAMU Student Government Association (SGA).

“The fact that I have been around students affairs at FAMU for so long through SGA, Greek life, and campus recreation, I’ve had the opportunity to deal with the different facets of student life,” Green said. “Now is my time to take all those things I’ve learned and give back in a way.”

After completing his master’s degree in sports and leisure management at FAMU, Green worked as an adjunct professor at the university, teaching introductory and intermediate golf courses. In 2001, Green became the head coach for the men’s golf team, a position he has held ever since.

In 2002, he became the first college golf instructor in the country to earn the Golf Teacher/College Golf Coaching Certification from Trahan’s Swing Surgeon Group, Inc.

For the past 10 years, Green has coached the FAMU Women’s Flag Football Team, “Simply Marvelous.” The nationally recognized team has won a total of six National Championships for both the National Intramural and Recreational Sports Association (NIRSA) and American College Intramural Sports (ACIS). The team’s accomplishments have been documented on CBS Sports for the past three years.

Green serves as president of the National Black Golf Coaches Association and holds memberships in the NIRSA, J.R.E. Lee, Sr. Masonic Lodge No. 422, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc., and the FAMU National Alumni Association. He also is a past advisor for the Pan-Hellenic Council and Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.

Green and his wife, Cecka Rose Green, have three children: Marhee, 10, Chaela, 8, and Marvin III (Tre), 5.

Clemon Johnson Named Head Coach of Men's Basketball Team

Florida A&M University (FAMU) welcomed home one of its sons to lead the men’s basketball program. Clemon Johnson was officially presented to alumni, fans and family at a pep rally and press conference in his honor. The world-famous Marching “100” and the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) coed Champions Cheerleaders were on hand to add to the excitement

Johnson was a star basketball player for the Rattlers from 1974 to 1978. He was an All-SIAC (Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) and All-American selection his senior year at FAMU with several of his records still standing to this day. Johnson went on to a solid career in the NBA, winning a world championship with the Philadelphia 76ers. He later started coaching in the high school ranks before being hired at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks.

FAMU Interim Sports Information Director Vaughn Wilson presided over the event. FAMU Director of Athletics Derek Horne gave the welcome from the FAMU Athletic Department and FAMU President James H. Ammons welcomed the crowd of nearly 300 and introduced new head basketball coach Clemon Johnson.

Horne was excited to have the search completed and a Rattler hired to guide the team.

“It’s a great day for not only FAMU, but our athletic department,” said Horne. “We have an alum coming back to the hill that we think will do a great job for us.”

Ammons expressed that it was important to regain championship composure for the basketball program.

“We wanted someone who could come back and ignite that ole Rattler spirit,” said Ammons. “When you think about Rattler sports, you immediately think about some of the great student-athletes who have been a part of this campus. You think of Althea Gibson, Bob Hayes and legendary coach Jake Gaither. When you think about basketball, you think about Clemon Johnson.”

To the sounds of the Marching “100,” Johnson approached the podium with a smile as wide as it could go. This was a full circle moment for Johnson. From the late 1970s as a player for FAMU coach Ajac Triplett to this opportunity to take the helm himself, Johnson has prepared himself for his dream job.

“I know a lot of people had a lot to do with helping to get me here,” said Johnson. “It’s been a long journey. I’ve been preparing myself for this since I left here in 1978.”

He told a story of legendary coach Jake Gaither, who was the athletic director when he arrived at FAMU.

“I caught the tail end of the blood, sweat and tears of coach Gaither,” said Johnson. “We were in Atlanta, Ga. playing Albany State in the SIAC championship, and we were beating Albany State by 20 points at halftime. Coach Gaither came to the locker room and said, ‘Kill a mosquito with an ax.’”

The interest in Johnson’s return could be the boost the FAMU basketball program needs. With his ties to FAMU Development Research School, Monticello and Quincy, the interest in the basketball program in and around the Tallahassee area will be increased as his roots are spread deep in the area.

Last season, the Rattlers finished 12-20 with a first round exit in the MEAC Tournament.

Johnson’s goal is to return the team back to the championship caliber that was commonplace while he was a player and was repeated by former basketball coaches Willie Booker, Mickey Clayton and Mike Gillespie.

Several current players on the Rattlers squad were in attendance.

“Ladies and gentlemen I am looking forward to this opportunity,” concluded Johnson. “As I’ve said before, I am prepared for it. I’m ready for it and we’re ready to go to work. We need you to grab a friend and join us in the Lawson Center to come cheer the Rattlers on.”

Associate Professor to Participate in Faculty Development in International Business Program in Brazil

Florida A&M University’s (FAMU) School of Business and Industry (SBI) Associate Marketing Professor Roscoe Hightower Jr. will participate in the Faculty Development in International Business Program in Brazil later this month.

The 10-day program will introduce participants to the major emerging economy of Brazil, with a more specific focus on the challenges of long-term sustainability. During the excursion, the 13 faculty members and 10 graduate students from institutions of higher education across the United States will travel to Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, the country’s two largest urban centers.

“I hope to learn about Brazil... and the Brazilian perspective of doing business, focusing on the economy and the cultural norms,” said Hightower.

According to Shawn Conner, associate director at the Indiana University Institute for International Business, participants were selected based on their specific interest in Brazil, as stated in a series of essays submitted with the program application. A selection committee assessed each applicant’s professional interests and goals, ultimately selecting participants that best matched with the objectives of the program.

Hightower said it is a great feeling to be selected to participate in the prestigious program and to know “that your colleagues from around the country value what you do with respect to teaching, research and service.”

Through the program, sponsored by Indiana University's Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER), Hightower will have the opportunity to strengthen his understanding of the country's unique business challenges through a structured itinerary of visits to domestic and multinational companies, tours of cultural and historical sites and presentations by researchers and professionals.

“IU CIBER’s faculty development program to Brazil aims to provide a value-added, short-term international experience for U.S. faculty in order to gain a basic understanding of how business is evolving in this particular emerging economy,” said Conner. “We hope participants will return to their home institutions, incorporate aspects of their experience in the business classroom, and consider expanding the scope of their research to include Brazil. We will also meet with faculty experts, entrepreneurs, and seasoned business professionals to discuss ongoing challenges for women and minorities.”

While in Brazil, Hightower plans to gather data for an ongoing research project dealing with a Green Servicescape instrument that has been tentatively accepted for the Fourth International Congress for Facilities Management in Vienna, Austria in November 2011.

“Right now, FAMU is No. 1 in the world in correctly conceptualizing and measuring the servicescape construct,” he said. “It is up to me to get this message out to the community-at-large, and this trip helps to enable me in accomplishing this by providing opportunities to talk to the public about my research.”