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History Lesson 125 - FAMU is Exceptional
Frederick S. Humphries, eighth president of Florida A&M University, gave the keynote address for the university's Founders Day Convocation.  FAMU celebrated its 125th anniversary.

October 3, 2012

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Marcus Garvey once said, “A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.”  Today, Florida A&M University (FAMU) eighth president Frederick S. Humphries gave a history lesson that emphasized how exceptional he feels FAMU is and focused on the university’s rich history that has impacted the state of Florida and the nation. 

Humphries was the keynote speaker for the annual Founders Day Convocation, which commemorated FAMU’s 125th anniversary.

Throughout his speech, Humphries praised and shared with an audience filled with students, faculty, staff, alumni, retirees and members of the community some of FAMU’s outstanding accomplishments.  He spoke about the untiring efforts of Sybil Mobley, founding dean of the School of Business and Industry, who was instrumental in changing the lives of students at the university making FAMU one of the best business programs in the nation.  Under the leadership of William P. Foster, Humphries said the Marching “100” was awarded the Sudler Trophy, becoming the only historically black college or university to receive this award.  He shared how legendary football coach Jake Gaither led the way in football.

“As we celebrate the legacy of FAMU, we must remember that FAMU is exceptional,” said Humphries.

Humphries, too, had an exceptional presidency at FAMU.  During his nearly 17-year tenure, he created the Life Gets Better Scholarship and Graduate School Feeder Programs and he more than doubled enrollment while simultaneously raising academic standards. He increased the number of National Achievement Scholars at the university ranking first in the nation three times in recruiting National Achievement Scholars beating out Harvard and Stanford.  FAMU also became the nation’s number one producer of African Americans with baccalaureate degrees and third in the nation as the baccalaureate institution of origin for African-American doctoral degree recipients. His crowning achievement came in 1997 when FAMU was selected as the first ever TIME Magazine/Princeton Review “College of the Year.”

Before Humphries took the stage, State University System of Florida Chancellor Frank T. Brogan, FAMU’s Board of Trustees Chairman Solomon L. Badger and FAMU’s President of the National Alumni Association Tommy L. Mitchell Sr. gave greetings.  Murrell Dawson, director and curator of the Meek-Eaton Black Archives Research Center and Museum, gave an uplifting occasion that brought the audience to their feet. Members of the National Alumni Association spoke about rekindling the FAMU flame.  Rep. Alan Williams, District 8 (Tallahassee), did a historical reading.

Humphries concluded his message by challenging the audience that it was their responsibility to respond to FAMU’s needs.

“Now is the time for you to act,” said Humphries.  “We are survivors.  FAMU will be greater than it is today because of you.”

Did members of the audience enjoy their history lesson of FAMU? D’Andrea C. Cotton, who seemed to be bursting with joy after the convocation, expressed how excited she was to hear Humphries’ message and to celebrate FAMU’s 125th anniversary.

“This place [FAMU] made me,” shouted Cotton, who received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from FAMU.  “FAMU changed my life.  Attending FAMU was the best decision I ever made.”

A native of Chicago, Ill., Cotton said that Sybil Mobley recruited her and she was the reason for her coming to FAMU.

It seems that Cotton is just one of the numerous examples that FAMU is exceptional.

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