Thursday, October 20, 2011

FAMU Kicks Off 125th Anniversary during the President Gala

Florida A&M University (FAMU) will kick off its yearlong 125-year Anniversary Celebration during the President’s Gala on Friday, October 7, 2011. This year’s gala theme is “Marching for Excellence” and will pay tribute to the life of William P. Foster, the “Dean of America’s Band Directors,” and the incomparable Marching “100.” 

The Marching “100,” a leader in marching bands, has appeared in films, commercials, Super Bowls, the Grammys, numerous magazine and newspaper articles and nationally televised performances. In 1985, the “100” was the recipient of the Sudler Trophy, the Heisman Trophy for marching bands, which is the highest honor a collegiate marching band can receive. It is awarded to a college or university marching band, which has demonstrated the highest of musical standards and innovative marching routines and ideas.  FAMU is the only historically black college or university to receive that award.

“As we celebrate our 125 years of existence, we want to highlight all of the icons of our brand including the Marching “100,” our great presidents, Dr. Foster and others who helped FAMU to become a household name and brand,” said Sharon Saunders, chief communications officer and chair of the 125th Anniversary Celebration.

Foster, who was also called “The Law” and “The Maestro,” was the founder and creator of the noted Marching “100.”  He served as the band’s director from 1946 to his retirement in 1998. He is credited with revolutionizing marching band techniques and reshaping the world’s concept of the collegiate marching band.  Foster brought more than 30 new techniques to the band that have now become standard operating procedure for high school and college bands nationwide. 

In 1998, Foster retired after 52 years of service to the university, the State of Florida, the nation and the world.  On August 28, 2010, the FAMU family and this nation mourned the loss of Foster, who was 90-years old.

During the 2011-2012 academic year, FAMU will host several anniversary events including a community-wide picnic, a health symposium, an artist in bloom festival and much more.

“This is an exhilarating and monumental milestone in Florida A&M University’s history,” said FAMU President James H. Ammons  “As we honor FAMU’s quasquicentennial and reflect on the university’s achievements, I can not think of a better way to signal the commemoration’s official launch than to honor a legend [William P. Foster] who was a key figure in the life and history of FAMU.”

Since October 3, 1887, FAMU has grown from its initial 15 students and two instructors to now educating more than 13,000 students.  The University now offers 53 bachelor’s degrees, 28 master’s degrees, three professional degrees and 12 doctoral degrees. The three professional degrees include the JD, PharmD, and the Doctor of Physical Therapy.

FAMU prominently resides atop the highest of Tallahassee’s seven hills and is the only historically black university within the eleven-member State University System of Florida.

Gala tickets are $125 per person.  Tickets can be purchased online at or by calling (850) 599-3860.

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