Wednesday, December 14, 2011

FAMU Family Mourns Death of a Student Drum Major

The Florida A&M University (FAMU) family is mourning the death of Robert Champion, one of the drum majors in FAMU Marching "100," who passed away on Saturday.

According to Ginette Rodriguez, spokeswoman for the Orange County Sheriff's Office, "after the game, the band returned to the Rosen Plaza Hotel (9700 International Drive) and the victim reportedly threw up in the parking lot and started complaining of not being able to breathe. Friends of the victim called 911 and administered CPR. The victim was transported to Doctor Phillips Hospital where he was pronounced deceased. This is an ongoing investigation. There is no sign of foul play at this time."

"We are deeply saddened by this loss," said FAMU President James H. Ammons. "Our hearts and our prayers go out to Mr. Champion's family. This is a major loss for our student body, the Marching "100" and the University."

Champion, a music major from Atlanta, served as one of six drum majors for the 375-member Marching "100" band who traveled to Orlando this weekend for the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida Classic. A drum major since spring 2010, Champion had performed in the Classic's half-time show earlier in the day.

"We are in shock," said FAMU Band Director Julian White. "He was a very fine drum major who was of excellent character and very trustworthy. I had not told him yet, but he was slated to be the head drum major next year."

White met with band members early Sunday morning to inform them of Champion's death. The university is preparing to provide grief counseling for band members and other students through the University Counseling Center.

FAMU College of Law Receives $10,000 Gift from Wells Fargo Bank

ORLANDO, Fla. - Valerie Hendriex, vice president, Senior Community Development Officer at Wells Fargo (third from right), presented a $10,000 commemorative check to FAMU’s College of Law Dean LeRoy Pernell (second from left).  The funds will be used to host a mortgage foreclosure workshop through the FAMU Legal Clinic under the direction of Associate Professor Ann Marie Cavazos (right).  Also pictured: Mildred Graham, FAMU College of Law Director of Development and Alumni Affairs (left) and Eunice Cassuade-Garcia, visiting instructor and coordinator of the FAMU Housing Clinic (second from right).

CIS Student Awarded NCWIT Student Seed Fund

The National Conference on Women in Information Technology (NCWIT) has selected Florida A&M University’s (FAMU) African-American Women in Computer Science (AAWCS) Scholarship Program to receive the Return Path Student Seed Fund Grant.

The grant, valued at $500, has been awarded to Olivia Wilson, a junior computer and information sciences student from Tallahassee, Fla.

“I am happy and honored to get this fund,” she said. “With it, I can do more to help recruit for not only our department, but for this field as well.

The grant is to be applied toward activities designed to recruit and attract women to the field of computing.  The award will also be announced at the next national NCWIT event.

With this funding, Wilson plans to develop and implement several initiatives to recruit women to the field, including a Showcase of Women in Information Technology Luncheon, that will feature women in computer science and information technology speaking to high school and college women.  In addition, prizes and mini-scholarships will be offered.
“Coming into the technology field, I noticed that there is a shortage of women here—especially minority women,” said Wilson. “With the grant, I plan to do something that draws high school students, specifically women, to the field and show them that they can be successful as well.”

Jason Black, AAWCS principal investigator and Wilson’s adviser, said he is proud of Wilson and her accomplishment.

“This is an exciting offer,” said Black.  “We are already dedicated to this goal and this funding will definitely aid in our efforts to increase these numbers.” 

Wilson works with the Students and Technology in Academia, Research and Services Program, where she uses the information she gathers from her programs for research to assist in recruiting women to the technology field.

FAMU Student Reamonn Soto Invited to the White House to Participate in a Community Leaders Briefing Series

Reamonn Soto, a senior majoring in physics at Florida A&M University, has been invited to the White House to participate in the White House Community Leaders Briefing Series on November 10 for Florida leaders.

The briefing series is a unique opportunity for grassroots leaders to come to Washington to hear directly from White House officials on the issues that are affecting communities across the country and learn more about the President’s priorities and initiatives from the people that work on them every day.

In return, Administration staff will learn what is going on in cities and towns across the country directly from the experts – the grassroots leaders.

“I'm very excited to be invited to the White House to have dialogue with White House officials and most importantly with community leaders throughout Florida,” said Soto. “Although, many are looking forward to meeting President Obama, I look forward to learning more about the issues from the communities that have not been heard in popular political conversation. I don't believe government should solve all of our problems, but the government should at least understand them, and the invitation to participate in the White House Florida Community Leaders Briefing will make that conversation possible.”

Participants are local leaders who are currently involved in their cities and towns at the grassroots level – in their neighborhoods, schools, churches, non-profit organizations, environmental groups, activist and advocacy groups, etc. and who are continuously invested in improving their own communities.

The White House is looking for those that can bring their successes, challenges, and ideas directly to the White House to help improve the conversation between the grassroots and Washington.

FAU and FAMU Partner to Establish Medical Honors Program for Outstanding High School Seniors

BOCA RATON, Fla.  —The Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine at Florida Atlantic University has partnered with the Florida A&M University (FAMU) in Tallahassee to establish a first-of-its-kind Medical Honors Program (MHP) between the two institutions. FAU and FAMU have signed an affiliation agreement to formally establish the MHP with the overall goal of attracting and enrolling outstanding high school seniors who have made an early and informed decision to ultimately pursue a doctoral degree in the field of medicine. The primary goal of this program is to admit academically talented high school students to the MHP at FAMU, with a conditional acceptance to FAU’s College of Medicine. The students will have to successfully complete the MHP and satisfy the requirements of the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME), American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC), American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) and FAU’s College of Medicine.

“We are very pleased to be working jointly with FAMU on the Medical Honors Program, which is distinguished by the strength of both our institutions,” said FAU President Mary Jane Saunders. “We will be able to offer aspiring doctors who excel academically with a competitive program that ensures a seamless route from undergraduate study to medical school.”

The MHP is a four-year curriculum, which will focus on professionalism, ethics, problem-based learning and inter-professional (team building, communication and leadership skills) education. MHP students will also be required to fulfill non-classroom extracurricular requirements such as clinical education, physician shadowing, working with patients in a hospital, clinic or physician’s office, and participating in health related community service.  The program is designed to enable students to gain an understanding of the intellectual, emotional and physical demands incumbent upon medical students, and to train socially conscious and humane physicians.

“Florida A&M University is excited to join forces with Florida Atlantic University in this endeavor,” said FAMU President James H. Ammons.  “The Medical Honors Program reinforces the commitment of both universities to identify and engage in strategies to meet the health needs of underserved populations. Through this program, the citizens of Florida will benefit as well as the MHP students.”

To be eligible for the MHP at FAU/FAMU, applicants must have an un-weighted high school average of at least 3.50, an SAT 1 composite minimum score of 1100 and must be in their last year of high school at the time of application. Up to ten total FAMU students will be admitted each year beginning in fall 2012. A MHP committee jointly composed of faculty from FAU and FAMU has been established to oversee the administration and admissions of this cooperative and integrated program. 

“Educating and training underrepresented students who are outstanding academically is critical to helping address our physician shortage in Florida and the U.S., and ultimately providing first-rate medical care among our underserved populations,” said Julie C. Servoss, M.D., M.P.H., assistant dean of diversity, cultural and student affairs in FAU’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine and chair of the MHP committee.

According to the American Medical Association (AMA) in 2008, the total number of African-American physicians in the U.S. was 33,781 or 3.5 percent of the total physician population. Hispanic physicians in the U.S. total 46,507 or 4.9 percent of the total physician population.  

One of America’s newest medical schools, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine at FAU  welcomed its inaugural class of 64 students in August. The College has developed a new and innovative curriculum, which features early and continuous community-based clinical experiences and problem-based learning with emphasis on small-group and self-directed learning. The curriculum includes a student-centered and patient-focused approach and clinical experiences with local physicians, health departments and hospitals, and a state-of-the-art simulation center. A key component of the innovative curriculum is early exposure to patients and the actual practice of medicine. To that end, the College has established relationships with several prominent area hospitals that are serving as sites for clerkships, hospital-based electives and residencies. During clinical trainings, students have the opportunity to work side-by-side with physicians in the diagnosis and treatment of patients, applying knowledge learned from the first two years of study to real-life situations.

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About Florida Atlantic University:
Florida Atlantic University, established in 1961, officially opened its doors in 1964 as the fifth public university in Florida. In commemoration of its origin, FAU is celebrating its 50th anniversary throughout 2011. Today, the University serves more than 29,000 undergraduate and graduate students on seven campuses and sites. FAU’s world-class teaching and research faculty serves students through 10 colleges: the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters, the College of Business, the College for Design and Social Inquiry, the College of Education, the College of Engineering and Computer Science, the Graduate College, the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing and the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. FAU is ranked as a High Research Activity institution by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. For more information, visit

About Florida A&M University
Florida A&M University (FAMU) was founded on October 3, 1887, as the State Normal College for Colored Students.  Today, FAMU offers 52 bachelor’s degrees and 27 master’s degrees and one specialist degree program.  The university has 13 schools and colleges, and one institute.  FAMU has 11 doctoral degree programs including 10 Ph.D. degrees.   The Ph.D. degrees include the following: biomedical engineering; chemical engineering; civil engineering; electrical engineering; mechanical engineering; industrial engineering; pharmaceutical sciences; physics; educational leadership; and environmental science.

With a distinction as a doctoral research institution, Florida A&M University has an enrollment of more than 13,000 students.  Florida A&M University is part of the State University System of Florida and is fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.  For more information, visit

Lyceum Series to Present The Munich Symphony Orchestra

The Florida A&M University (FAMU) Lyceum Series is proud to present the Munich Symphony Orchestra featuring Maestro Philippe Entremont, Saturday, November 12, at 7:30 p.m. in Lee Hall Auditorium.

Tickets are now available through and the FAMU Ticket Office located in the Alfred Lawson Jr. Multipurpose Center and Teaching Gymnasium for $20, $15 and $10, depending on the location of the seats.

The Munich Symphony Orchestra is one of Munich’s four symphony orchestras. It was founded in 1945 as “Symphonieorchester Kurt Graunke” and – with its four subscription series in Prinzregententheater, Herkulessaal and the Philharmonie am Gasteig – is regarded as one of the high-profile ensembles of the city of Munich.

For more than 10 years, the Munich Symphony has been a cooperative partner to the opera festival at Gut Immling in Chiemgau with two major opera productions each summer. Attractive productions of film scores (for example, a live concert of the score of “The Lord of the Rings”) and show productions (Roncalli’s “Circus Meets Classic”) add to the profile of the Munich Symphony Orchestra.

The exceptional career of Entremont began at the age of 18 when he came to international attention with his great success at New York’s Carnegie Hall playing Jolivet’s piano concerto and Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 1.  Since then, he has pursued a top international career as a pianist, and for the last 30 years, on the podium as well.

The 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 seasons have taken Entremont all over the world, with many orchestral tours including the Munich Symphony Orchestra, the Israel Festival Orchestra, the Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie, and the Shenzhen Symphony Orchestra. He will also guest conduct European and American orchestras as well as perform numerous piano and chamber music concerts. Moreover, in the 2010-2011 season, Entremont became principal conductor of the Boca Raton Philharmonic and Lifetime Laureate conductor of the Munich Symphony Orchestra.

His is renown as an orchestral conductor and his dedication to developing orchestras’ artistic potential have led to numerous international tours, playing before full houses: 10 tours in the U.S. and seven in Japan with the Vienna Chamber Orchestra, a tour of 11 concerts with the Orquestra de CadaquĆ©s in capitals of countries in Asia, and a tour in Switzerland and Germany conducting the Strasbourg Philharmonic Orchestra. 

One of the most recorded artists of all time, Entremont has appeared on many labels, including CBS Sony, Teldec and Harmonia Mundi, and he has garnered all of the leading prizes and awards in the industry. His 2008 releases include Mozart’s Concertone; Concerto for Violin and Piano with the Wiener Kammerorchester; Strauss’ lieder with Sophie Koch (mezzo-soprano); and Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2 with the Orquesta del Festival Musical de Santa Domingo. 

Known as Great Cross of the Austrian Republic Order of Merit, Officer of the French Legion of Honor, Commander of the Order of Merit, Commander of the Order of Arts et Lettres, Entremont has also been awarded the Arts and Sciences Cross of Honor of Austria.  He is president of the International Certificate for Piano Artists, president of the Bel’Arte Foundation of Brussels and is director of the famed American Conservatory of Fountainebleau, a post formerly held by the legendary Nadia Boulanger.

For more information, visit

Thomas J. Haynes Named Vice President of University Relations

 Florida A&M University (FAMU) President James H. Ammons has appointed Thomas J. Haynes as the new vice president for University Relations.
“I am confident that Thomas Haynes will demonstrate strong leadership and fundraising skills for University Relations,” said Ammons. “He has experience with capital campaigns and a thorough knowledge of marketing and grant solicitation. We look forward to working with him as we take FAMU to the next level in higher education.”
Haynes, who officially begins at the end of the October, has worked at the university in various roles from 1977-2003.
“I’m excited about returning to FAMU,” Haynes said. “It’s a place I know and am passionate about. I am committed to its mission and looking forward to working with the president, board of trustees, faculty, staff, students and alumni as we position the university to continue to achieving its mission.”

Haynes is an experienced senior fundraiser with a strong strategic and entrepreneurial vision and passion for organizational success. He has been recognized in the industry as one with a proven record of success and a high standard of professional integrity and ethics. His expertise includes strategic planning and marketing for external support; grant solicitation and acquisition (public and private sources); capital campaign development and execution; development of collaborative corporate and community partnerships; innovations in curriculum development; international experience in developing education/business partnerships.

Haynes said one of his first goals is to begin to develop a fundraising infrastructure that will not only meet the Capital Campaign goal, but also position the university in terms of resource development.

“I bring a strong fundraising background to this position,” Haynes said. “I understand the value of creating partnerships for higher education. I bring a special set of skills—especially around resource development.”
Haynes earned his bachelor’s degree in 1976 from Shaw University in Raleigh, N.C.; his master’s degree from FAMU in 1977; and his doctorate in education leadership with specialization in educational policy, planning and analysis in 1991 from Florida State University.

While an employee at FAMU, he served as a career development specialist, student affairs coordinator, assistant professor in the College of Arts and Sciences, assistant professor / executive director of
the Career and Cooperative Education Center, associate vice president for University Relations, and the executive director of the Business Industry Cluster.

While working with University Relations, he and his team were responsible for developing the strategic plan to raise $50 million in a capital campaign (results exceeded $75 million in assets). He also managed development of foundation proposals (public and private) and stewardship activities. With the Industry Cluster, he provided leadership that resulted in one of the most benchmarked Industry Cluster programs (business/education partnership) in the country.

From 2003-2008, he served as the Montclair State University vice president for University Advancement and executive director of the University Foundation in Montclair, N.J. There he provided vision, leadership and management for the following functional areas: communications and marketing, alumni relations, public and media relations, community relations, career services, development and advancement services, foundation services, web services and publications.  He developed infrastructure and internal and external relationships required to achieve the strategic goal of transitioning from a Master’s Comprehensive University to a Doctoral Research Intensive University.

From 2008-2010, he served as Coppin State University vice president for Institutional Advancement and executive director of the University Foundation in Baltimore, Md.

Prior to returning FAMU, he has been working as a fundraising consultant where he provides consulting services to small to mid-sized non-profit organizations in the areas of:  strategic planning, capital campaign planning, implementation and, feasibility studies, major gift and fundraising counsel, cultivation, solicitation and stewardship, design, implementation and management of planned giving programs, fundraising assessment and audits, executive coaching, grant writing, research and administration, interim staffing solutions, donor data base analysis and prospect development, corporate and foundation relations, annual fund management, and foundation operations and management.
Haynes says he is looking forward to meeting the staff and getting reacquainted with the university again.

“The most important thing to me is getting back to campus and raising the resources needed to keep FAMU a premier institution in this country.”

NOAA Awards FAMU $15 Million to Train a New Generation of Scientists

 Florida A&M University (FAMU) has been awarded an education and research grant totaling $15 million from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to meet the agency’s workforce needs in areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) that support NOAA’s mission. This is the largest single grant awarded in the history of the University.

“One of the highest criteria used to determine the quality of a university is the level of extramural funding and quality of research taking place by faculty and the funding obtained for them to conduct research on a regular basis,” said FAMU President James H. Ammons. “This announcement proves that Florida A&M University meets that standard of excellence.”

With 30 percent of the grant designated for scholarships, FAMU has partnered with Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, Delaware State University, Jackson State University, University of Texas at Brownsville, and Creighton University as well as three National Estuarine Research Reserves; Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary; the Gulf of Mexico Alliance; and, the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System. The grant will provide funds to support students as they pursue NOAA-relevant education, research, and training in environmental science. This grant supports enhancing environmental literacy from K-12 to the doctorate level. 

“Our education efforts will focus on training and graduating under-represented minorities and utilize research as a vehicle to educate students, and develop skills relevant to the new economy,” said Michael Abazinge, professor and interim director of the School of the Environment who also serves as the principal investigator for this
significant award.

The award will support the NOAA Environmental Cooperative Science Center (ECSC), FAMU as the lead institution with its partners to focus on the following goals:

  • Increasing the number of well-trained and highly qualified scientists and managers, particularly from under-represented minority groups entering the NOAA workforce and other resource management entities;
  • Improving the scientific bases for coastal resource management and to develop tools and research products to characterize, evaluate, and forecast coastal and marine ecosystem responses to natural and human induced stressors; and,
  • Facilitating community engagement related to the function and relevance of coastal ecosystems and the services they provide to society.
“The magnitude of this environmentally-focused research and training award is critical to our region, nation and to the world, as we develop best practices to govern us in all areas of our existence,” said K. Ken Redda, professor and acting vice president for research.

The ECSC was established in 2001 at FAMU through a national competitive process. This five-year award was made to a team of academic institutions led by FAMU.  Through this award, ECSC will increase the number of scientists, particularly from under-represented minority groups in environmental, coastal, and oceanic sciences. Of the over 180 postsecondary student participants, ECSC has graduated 19 Ph.D. degree recipients, 41 master’s degree holders, and 56 bachelor’s degree recipients, since 2006. Graduates of ECSC, a part of FAMU’s School of the Environment, has a 100 percent placement rate.  Eight are working as employees of NOAA, while others are employed by state or other governmental employees or as researchers in university settings.

“We’re committed to developing problem-solving skills as we engage undergraduate majors and graduate students from varied disciplines, including biology, chemistry, physics, math and other STEM areas needed to address and resolve environmental issues,” said Charles H. Jagoe, distinguished professor in the School of the Environment.

Those problem-solving skills are being put to use in the laboratories in the School of the Environment.

Currently, two students, LaTrisha Allen and Kali Farris, are conducting research under the leadership of Jagoe. Allen, a second-year Ph.D. research student, and Kali Farris, a third-year master’s degree student majoring in environmental science marine toxicology, are examining and conducting different analysis of several fish species to determine their exposure to the oil released in the BP Oil Spill.

This grant will also provide educational opportunities for students and teachers in the local K-12 school districts through summer workshops, Brain Bowl competitions and others enrichment activities. K-12 student participants will learn how environmental decisions impact the social and economic structure of their communities.

The Environmental Sciences Institute, which is currently referred to as the School of the Environment, was established in 1995 and became a school in 2011. It is one of several new innovative programs at Florida A&M University. The FAMU School of the Environment is a multidisciplinary unit that offers a wide range of services to students, governmental agencies, private sector companies, communities and other organizations.

The grant awarded to the School of the Environment is budgeted over the next five years, ending on June 30, 2016. For more information on NOAA’s Environmental Cooperative Science Center at Florida A&M University visit

U.S. House Assistant Democratic Leader James E. Clyburn to Keynote Fall Commencement Ceremony

House Assistant Democratic Leader James E. Clyburn will serve as the 2011 Florida A&M University (FAMU) fall commencement speaker on Friday, December 16 at 6 p.m. in the Alfred Lawson Jr. Multipurpose Center and Teaching Gymnasium. 

Clyburn is the leadership liaison to the Appropriations Committee and one of the Democratic Caucus' primary liaisons to the White House. Working with the internal caucuses, he plays a prominent role in messaging and outreach.

When Clyburn came to Congress in 1993, he was elected co-president of his freshman class and quickly rose through leadership ranks. He was elected chairman of the congressional Black Caucus in 1999, and his reputation as a leader and consensus-builder helped him win a difficult three-way race for House Democratic Caucus vice chair in 2002.

Three years later, he was unanimously elected chair of the Democratic Caucus. When Democrats regained the House majority in 2006, Clyburn was elevated by his colleagues to House Majority Whip.

As a national leader he has worked to respond to the needs of America’s diverse communities. He championed rural communities supporting the development of regional water projects, community health centers, and broadband connections. He has supported higher education by leading the charge for increased Pell grants and invested millions in science and math programs and historic preservation at historically black colleges and universities.

He has encouraged economic development by securing funding for Empowerment Zones; invested in green technology development such as nuclear, wind, hydrogen and biofuels; and directed 10 percent of Recovery Act funding to communities 20 percent under the poverty level for the past 30 years. Clyburn was instrumental in advancing into law measures to resolve historic discrimination issues, significantly reducing the statutory disparity in cocaine sentencing and compensating African and Native American farmers who suffered racial discrimination under the USDA loan program.

Clyburn and his wife, Emily, have three daughters, Mignon, Jennifer Reed and Angela Hannibal; two sons-in-law, Walter Reed and Cecil Hannibal; and two grandchildren, Walter A Clyburn Reed and Sydney Alexis Reed.