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FAMU Students and Counselors

Living-Learning Communities

Cover Photo: Macork Solutions


FAMU’s Agribusiness Program is in FULL BLOOM



IT TAKES A VILLAGE: FAMU Introduces Living-Learning Communities



FAMU CHAMPION TOMMY MITCHELL SR. Ends Historic Reign as NAA President





COPY EDITORS Mary Turner, Ph.D. Sabrina Thompson LAYOUT AND DESIGN Charles R. Collins, III PHOTOGRAPHY Macork Solutions Vaughn Wilson Mashael Binmugbel Christopher Chavannes Wayne Dunwoody Daron Dean/ SPECIAL ASSISTANT Dee Gamble EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT Tawanda Finley


FAMU Calls Upon Alumni for Inaugural “DAY OF SERVICE”


34 30



EVENTS Vernon Bryant MARKETING AND ADVERTISING Charlene Balewa EXTERNAL RELATIONS Tola Thompson Anthony Hopson



04 President’s Message 36 Alumni Applause 40 From the Bookshelf 42 Campus Notes 46 Fallen Rattlers

Twitter: Facebook Search: Florida A&M University YouTube: The A&M Magazine is the official magazine of Florida A&M University, and is designed to inform alumni, supporters, and friends about issues of importance about the University. This public document was promulgated at a total cost of $5,260 or $2.10 per copy. FAMU is an Equal Opportunity/Equal Access University.

Dear Alumni and FAMU Supporters: I am excited to introduce to you the fall 2015 issue of the award-winning A&M Magazine. A&M Magazine not only highlights the successes of our alumni, but it also provides an opportunity to tell the remarkable stories of the innovative programs and outstanding students, faculty, and staff that walk the “Hill” every day. This fall marks the 128th anniversary of the founding of Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, and that is what makes this issue so special. The stories on the pages that follow give our readers a glimpse into how far we have come from those 15 students, two instructors, and one building back in 1887. In this issue, you will read about our newly implemented, state-of-the-art Living-Learning Communities, and how we are embodying the “village” concept in providing our students with the tools, services, activities, and support that will ensure they are prepared to be great contributors to the needs of the global economy. You will also learn more about the University’s international impact, including an alumnus who is making great strides in China, and the newly launched West Africa Native Land Alumni Chapter. Also, you will learn about the successes of our students and faculty in our emerging Agribusiness Program, and how our new Athletics Director Milton Overton and his team are building champions in the classroom, on the field, and in life. Last but certainly not least, you will read about the great champions of our University like FAMU National Alumni Association President Tommy Mitchell Sr.; E. Murell Dawson, Ph.D., former director of the Meek-Eaton Black Archives; and alumna T’Keyah Crystal Keymáh, who will serve as the honorary chair of our inaugural Day of Service. In closing, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank each of you for not only your support of A&M Magazine, but also for your faithfulness and commitment to the forward movement of our University. Without our alumni, students, faculty, staff, community, and all of our stakeholders and leaders, we certainly would not be where we are today. With Rattler Regard,

Elmira Mangum, Ph.D. President

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR The A&M Magazine welcomes letters to the editor about stories in its issues. We reserve the right to edit emails and letters for clarity or spacing. Emails may be sent to: or letters may be mailed to the Office of Communications, Florida A&M University, 1601 S. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Suite 200 Lee Hall, Tallahassee, FL 32307-3100.


COMING HOME5 Alumna and FOX Sports broadcast journalist Pam Oliver returned to the “Hill” to inspire our new graduates during summer commencement.

A&M MAGAZINE // FALL 2015 // 5

BY [Domonique Davis]

FAMU’s Agribusiness Program is in

Full Bloom

The students, faculty, and alumni of Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University’s Agribusiness Program have garnered the national spotlight. Appropriately themed, “Come Grow With Us,” FAMU’s agricultural offerings have made their way into the halls of the U.S. Capitol, national competitions, and boardrooms of some of the world’s largest organizations -- showcasing the talent and research capacity of the College of Agriculture and Food Sciences (CAFS). Kendall Strickland, a 2015 graduate, is a personification of the successes taking place within the Agribusiness Program. Strickland recently placed second at the 30th Annual Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences (MANRRS) Career Fair and Training Conference held in Houston, Texas. He received national recognition in the poster category of the competition for a project titled “The Economic Value of Palm Trees in Hotel Landscaping.” The primary focus of the research was to determine the value of palm trees at hotels in areas such as Aruba. Since visitors travel to places like Aruba for its tropical environment, Strickland’s research helped to address industry concerns regarding how the number of palm trees in proximity to hotels ultimately impacts the number of visitors. Strickland’s passion for agribusiness and research, not only - Nicholas Miller contributed to his receipt of a full scholarship from the U.S. Monsato Scholar Department of Agriculture’s 1890 National Scholars Program as a student, but it has also afforded him the opportunity to work for the USDA in a post-graduate program as an agricultural statistician. “What I experienced at FAMU has given me confidence in my work in the agribusiness field. I learned to work hard at my research and put my heart into agriculture,” he said. Strickland follows in the footsteps of Agribusiness alumni like actor Montrel Miller, who has used the business, critical thinking, and people skills he acquired while in the CAFS program to build a successful career. Such skills have provided him with the flexibility needed to land roles in films like RATTLERS IN D.C.4 “Selma,” “Coffee Shop,” “Unconditional,” and “Stomp the Yard 2.” He Agribusiness students and representatives from each CAFS unit at recently took to Twitter to pay tribute to the Agribusiness Program. 4

We touch food every day. That’s a direct impact on our day-to-day lives. I’ll have a direct impact on somebody’s life every single day...

the 1890 land-grant celebration.


A&M MAGAZINE // FALL 2015 // 7

“This is the kind of work that changes lives. If I’m a small business owner and now have large market access, I can be provided with a better livelihood...” - Nicholas Miller Monsato Scholar

“Thanks for all that you have instilled in me,” he said. “I’ll continue to make you proud.” While Strickland, Montrel Miller, and the Agribusiness Program alumni in leading roles at such companies as Target, Coca-Cola, Western Union, Kraft Foods, and Sanderson Farms are making waves in their respective fields, current students are serving as ambassadors for the University at a national level. In July, students in the program joined 18 other universities at the U.S. Capitol to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the Second Morrill Act of 1890. The Act awarded FAMU and other Black institutions land-grant status and helped FAMU grow into the academic and research powerhouse it is today. While in Washington, D.C., students met with top U.S. officials to share their experience in FAMU’s agricultural programs and participate in a national convocation and exhibition. They were also on hand to witness President Elmira Mangum, Ph.D., make history as one of the first presidents from an 1890 land-grant University to testify before the U.S. House Committee on Agriculture. “The type of recognition our agriculture programs are receiving helps to amplify the quality of our students at FAMU and display the groundbreaking research that is happening every day at the University,” President Mangum said. Agribusiness Program Coordinator Daniel Solís, Ph.D., said he is proud that the program has been able to provide students with the opportunity to travel to national conferences, participate in research competitions, and showcase their skills while representing FAMU. 8 // FLORIDA A&M UNIVERSITY // A&M MAGAZINE

“Academic enrichment and research are the main focuses of our program. Each year we send students to professional conferences to garner additional knowledge and to share their work with others in their respective areas of interest. Consistently, they return to us from these conferences with top recognitions for their outstanding work,” said Solís, who was recently recognized by Research Gate as one of its most read authors. Solís explained that the program has partnered with international companies and government agencies that provide internship opportunities that have led to incredible career opportunities for its students. “We have a laser focus on internships. We try to discover what the main goals of the students are, what they really like to do and match them accordingly,” Solís said. “For instance, this year, we have one student who’s working in the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, we have another working in a federal credit union, and there’s another student who recently started with the Fish and Wildlife Commission, so depending on their goals we try to find them an internship that fits and inspires them.” Gerard Gunner, a senior agribusiness student, said his internship experience truly opened his eyes to his future possibilities. This summer, Gunner was able to travel the country and learn about credit and banking as it applies to agriculture while interning with the Farm Credit Administration in Dallas, Texas. Gunner explained that his internship through the Agribusiness Program showed him that he would be able to combine his interests in business administration, economics, and agriculture.

“I met representatives from the Farm Credit Administration at the career fair last fall, and after learning about the company I found that it combined everything I like into one job,” Gunner said. “It was a great opportunity.” Monsanto Scholarship recipient Nicholas Miller always knew he wanted to study business. After three years in FAMU’s five-year, Master of Business Administration Program and an internship with PepsiCo, Miller realized he was also interested in agriculture, so he decided to pursue an additional degree in agribusiness. With internship and work experience with Monsanto and the FAMU Sustainability Institute under his belt, Nicholas Miller said he feels more than prepared to enter the job market and showcase all that he has learned at FAMU. Upon graduation, he said he plans to establish his own marketing company. “I want to have a multifaceted business, but at the same time I have a special passion for connecting small agricultural businesses with large players in the market,” Miller said. “This is the kind of work that changes lives. If I’m a small business owner and now have large market access, I can be provided with a better livelihood, and a better future for my kids.” All in all, Miller said his main priority is to do something that will positively influence the lives of others, and he believes the agriculture and food industry is the perfect avenue for that. “For me, I’m big on impact,” Miller said. “We touch food every day. That’s a direct impact on our day-to-day lives. As a player in the food industry, I’ll have a direct impact on somebody’s life every single day.

TOUCHING LIVES5 FAMU’s Agribusiness Program provides students like Kendall Strickland with the opportunity to impact the lives of others by combining research and business training.

What more could you want from a career?” Solís agrees that the research and work done in the agriculture industry has a global impact. Recently, Solís was recognized nationally for his research focusing on red snapper, one of the most economically important fish in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico. His study, entitled “The Effect of IFQs on the Total Productivity of the U.S. Gulf of Mexico Red Snapper Industry,” produced results that will be presented to key stakeholders in the fishing industry, including both fishers and policymakers. At its core, Solís said that making an impact through research and education is what agribusiness is all about – using tools from the classroom and applying them to real-world problems. “What makes us unique is that everything we do here is extremely applied. It’s not just focusing on theory, but application of the theory. I think that’s what we do best. That’s what sets us apart. We find solutions to issues that plague communities worldwide.” A&M MAGAZINE // FALL 2015 // 9

BY [LaCrai Mitchell]



It Takes a Village: FAMU Introduces Living-Learning Communities On the hot summer morning of August 20, 2014, not even the humidity could dampen the excitement surrounding Move-In Day. Hundreds of anxious students eagerly awaited their turn to move into the University’s newest, state-of-the-art living facility. As families emerged from their jam-packed vehicles and volunteers helped carry piles of luggage, new Rattlers stood in amazement as they looked up at the place they would now call “home” – an 800-bed, six-story building that personified the beginning of their higher education. FAMU Village had arrived.


here was a lot of anticipation, excitement, and nervousness for me moving into the Village,” sophomore public relations student Cara Hackett recalled. “It was such a wonderful experience being a part of the first group of students to move in.” It has been more than a year since the University first opened the doors of FAMU Village to hopeful students like Cara Hackett, and the enthusiasm surrounding the suite-style facility is still high. Not only has it become a new campus staple, but it is now the home of a new University initiative that will improve student success, increase graduation and retention rates, and enhance the student-life experience. In August 2015, FAMU launched the first-ever group of Living-Learning Communities (LLCs) in the FAMU Village – a first step in a long-term University initiative for incoming and current students. President Elmira Mangum, Ph.D., and the divisions of Academic Affairs, Student Affairs, and Housing have collectively set in place a strategic goal to promote a 21st century living and learning environment that provides a holistic approach and diverse learning styles to enrich student growth and education. LLCs are living facilities that provide students with mentoring,

3 A NEW ERA OF CAMPUS LIVING Students in FAMU’s honors, business, journalism, graphic design, STEM, and allied health programs represent the first cohort of living-learning community residents.

academic support, and a sense of community – inside and outside of the classroom. It’s Just the Beginning “Our highest purpose is to provide the best educational experience possible for our students,” said Mangum, who recently announced during the President’s Convocation that FAMU Village and the new Living-Learning Communities were just the beginning of new facilities and programs that are soon to be introduced to the campus, including a new Student Affairs Center. “We have focused with laser-like precision on improving our graduation and retention rates, and enhancing the overall quality of student life on our campus,” she said. Through academic connections, service-learning experiences, and in-hall 4

A&M MAGAZINE // FALL 2015 // 11

3 THE GIFT OF TIME Counselors in the LLCs take time after normal work hours to engage with students and provide support ranging from career guidance to tutoring.

education, the LLCs are creating a platform for FAMU students, faculty, and staff to work together through classroom curriculum and personal interaction at “home.” This year, the LLC program features five communities for first-time-in-college students. This pilot group of LLCs are available for students that are in the University Honors Program; majoring in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) related fields; or who are majoring in fields of study that fall within the School of Allied Health Sciences, the School of Business and Industry, or the School of Journalism & Graphic Communication. Brenda Spencer, Ph.D., is the newly appointed LLC coordinator, aligning perfectly with her role as the director of the FAMU Undergraduate Student Success Center’s Academic Integration and Student Transitional Services Program. According to Spencer, LLCs provide multiple support systems for students that create a sense of community and help them learn how to work together. “At its core, this program is about creating communities within the FAMU community, that offer our students wrap-around support,” said Spencer, explaining that each LLC consists of a University faculty liaison and two student resident assistants (RAs). The deans and directors of the aforementioned divisions, schools, and college carefully chose their respective faculty liaisons. “The faculty mentors were carefully selected based upon their ability to provide effective mentorship and guidance to the students,” said Maurice Edington, dean of the College of Science and Technology. A University housing committee used the same precision to select this year’s RAs for the LLCs. In keeping with the theme of high scholastic standards, all of the RAs have at least a 3.0 GPA.


Dean Edington expressed his appreciation for the enhanced opportunities the LLCs provide for STEM majors. He applauded the program for its ability to extend support to students throughout the academic year and especially after business hours. “I am excited that we will be able to play a pivotal role in helping to implement the President’s vision of creating a 21st-century living-learning environment,” Edington said. “The LLC participants will receive exposure to co-curricular activities that will enhance their academic performance and increase their awareness of the career opportunities available in STEM disciplines.” A Focus on Success For decades, higher education researchers have conducted studies that show positive growth and outstanding results in undergraduate students who live in learning communities. In 2008, George D. Kuh, the director of the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment, conducted a notable study that identified the use of LLCs as a “high-impact educational practice.” Kuh’s findings suggested that these practices have proven to be highly effective in maximizing the learning experiences of American college students. “These practices typically demand that students devote considerable time and effort to purposeful tasks,” Kuh said in his report. “Most require daily decisions that deepen students’ investment in the activity as well as their commitment to their academic program and the college.” Another reason Kuh insisted that high-impact educational practices, like LLCs, are so effective is because of the student-faculty relationships that are formed. “The nature of these high-impact activities puts


students in circumstances that essentially demand that they interact with faculty and peers about substantive matters, typically over extended periods of time,” Kuh noted in his study. “A human-scale first-year seminar makes anonymity impossible, fosters face-to-face interaction, and fuels feedback.” These findings, which were published in a report by the Association of American Colleges and Universities, were widely tested across many students from diverse backgrounds. The research also focused on another key finding: “student development is a cumulative process shaped by many events and experiences.” For this reason, recent research on the relationships among student characteristics show that college experiences affect students differently based on various factors including their personal experiences. “Many of the effects of college are conditional in that some students appear to benefit more than others from the same educational programs or practices,” Kuh noted. “At the same time, there is growing evidence that—when done well—some programs and activities appear to engage participants at levels that elevate their performance across multiple engagement and desired outcome measures such as persistence.” In 2007, the Association of American Colleges and Universities published a report, titled “College Learning

for a New Global Century.” The report listed livinglearning communities as one of the 10 most promising high-impact activities, along with activities such as first-year seminars, service learning, and capstone projects, all of which are now being emphasized at FAMU. Dean Edington highlighted that these studies further prove that LLCs will benefit FAMU in multiple ways. 4

5 INSPIRATIONAL LEADERSHIP As the coordinator of the Living-Learning Communities Brenda Spencer, Ph.D., is adamant about being actively involved with the daily activities of the program.

A&M MAGAZINE // FALL 2015 // 13

“The LLCs will help to enhance the critical thinking, problem-solving, and communication skills of all student participants,” Edington said. “In addition, establishing LLCs at FAMU helps us to remain competitive with other institutions in Florida and across the nation.” Prominent universities like Yale and Syracuse are nationally recognized for their use of living-learning communities. Ranking organizations like U.S. News & World Report have praised universities who have adopted this model and are helping students thrive in the new landscape of higher learning. “FAMU must be inventive when it comes to meeting the needs of our students,” Mangum said. “The implementation of our LLCs provides a glimpse into the many programs we will undertake to ensure that FAMU achieves its goal of becoming a best-in-class, doctoral research university with a global presence.” Life-Changing Experiences Spencer explained that implementing the new LLCs has been a rewarding challenge that has allowed her to work with academic advisors from other institutions of higher learning. Through research, training, conferences, and meetings, she said she has been able to learn what will work best for FAMU’s LLC program so that incoming FAMU students can experience a life-changing educational environment. “Pretty amazing.” That is how freshman James Menefee III, a biology pre-med student, explained his reaction upon learning about FAMU’s LLCs. Menefee and his parents were already sold on FAMU throughout his college application process, but learning about the LLCs helped to seal the deal. “I’m actually living with other people that desire to do the exact same thing that I want to do,” said Menefee about what attracted him to the program, expressing the importance of collaborating with fellow students. Menefee knows first-hand the importance of a well-rounded learning experience. Throughout high school, he was a member of the Biotech Program and the National Honor Society. In addition to his scholastic achievements, the St. Augustine, Fla., native took Kung Fu classes and volunteered at the hospital where his mother works. His mother, Shirley Menefee, was excited to have her son enroll in the program. She understands the importance of creating a balance between academics and activities while simultaneously creating close bonds with classmates. As a FAMU alumna and former pharmacy student, Menefee remembers the important role that her classmates played in helping her to stay focused and motivated. She wants the same for her son James, who she affectionately calls Nathan. “I think that having access to faculty and upper-class students will help Nathan to matriculate better, help him to engage, and learn how to



communicate better,” Shirley Menefee said. The experiences and benefits gained from living in LLCs are priceless, but the University is willing to make large investments in the fulfilling of its goal to adopt the living-learning philosophy throughout campus. During a presentation to the Board of Trustees, Sameer Kapileshwari, associate vice president for facilities, planning, construction, and safety, explained that the LLCs are just one component of the University’s long-term goal to provide high-quality, living- learning facilities that promote retention and graduation. Kapileshwari noted the importance of providing fully equipped facilities in order for the University’s LLCs to make its full impact. “Creating such communities require modern facilities that provide amenities that ‘Millennials’ and their parents demand as part of their educational experience,” said Kapileshwari during the presentation. The overall project involves four phases to help meet student needs. It includes the renovation of out-of-use female living spaces and the Jackson Davis Hall to create a new student complex, shopping and food venues, more parking options, and additional Living-Learning Communities similar to FAMU Village. The complex will include the new Center for Access and Student Service, and the

overall project is estimated to cost more than $200 million. For now, FAMU’s new approach to the living-learning environment will thrive in the student living facility that has served as a “village” for multiple FAMU students. A perk that James Menefee Jr., the father of James Menefee III, called “the icing on the cake.” “When I went through school it was very difficult because I had little guidance,” James Menefee Jr. recalled about his personal college experiences. “But if you’ve got that reinforcement of positive influence and everybody is working to help each other get there, it makes it easier to get through school. It’s like a family getting through school instead of just an individual.” This year’s move-in day was a lot like last year’s—it was hot and humid, families trekked up and down hills to help their loved ones move into their new home, and incoming students were noticeably eager, as they often are. From the outside looking in, FAMU Village is exactly the same as it was a year ago but one step inside will reveal a new sense of community—one of living and learning. Through the new Living-Learning Communities, FAMU is changing the landscape for student development and is doing so with the support of the entire community because after all, it does take a village.

A&M MAGAZINE // FALL 2015 // 15

For the past six years, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University has reaped the support of a dedicated advocate and champion in Tommy Mitchell Sr., president of the FAMU National Alumni Association. As his tenure comes to an end, many alumni and friends will fondly remember Mitchell’s contributions as one of the University’s most vocal brand champions who successfully led the NAA even when “dark clouds” grew on the horizon. Mitchell is no stranger to the FAMU community and social activism. The decorated 1961 alumnus is the founding president of the 100 Black Men of Tallahassee Area, Inc., a past president of the Leon County and New York chapters of the FAMU NAA, former president of the Florida Athletic Sports Association, and former president of the Council of National Alumni Associations. He retired from FAMU after 28 years of service as director of Alumni Affairs (1979-1990), the director of the Black Male College Explorers Program (1990-2007), and the director of the Community Development Corporation (2002-2004).


BY [Thomas L.K. SIMS ]


2010, Mitchell’s passion for FAMU led him to pursue the FAMU NAA presidency with a goal to increase communication with alumni, increase alumni giving, increase membership, and enhance FAMU advocacy. Although these goals were achieved with the support of a solid executive board, the next six years would be filled with peaks and valleys as FAMU addressed challenges from all sides. FAMU’s Executive Director of Alumni Affairs Carmen Cummings-Martin has had the pleasure of working with Mitchell throughout his tenure. She watched him rise to every occasion and rally alumni during the unexpected challenges that sprung forth, including reaccreditation procedures, several University leadership changes, and an attempt to decouple the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering, to name a few. She describes Mitchell as a leader with bulldog tenacity. “It has been a tumultuous tenure for President Mitchell during these two terms of office,” recalls Cummings. “He knew we had to sustain the mission of FAMU, and we’re still rallying to strengthen alumni support. Yet, not once did I ever hear him say that he wished it could be someone else. He truly believes that FAMU must live forever.” As a champion for philanthropy, Mitchell has used his

alumna didn’t want to announce the size of her gift during the traditional parade of checks. However, after hearing Mitchell’s requests, she went to the microphone and announced a $20,000 gift to FAMU. Afterward, he was informed that two non-FAMU grads were so moved by the tributes that they decided to become life-members. “I’m proud of the increase in giving and life membership that we’ve experienced,” says Mitchell. “At last report, we’ve raised $1,194,000 in the life membership [endowment fund]. The greatest feeling is when I get stopped by alumni who tell me how proud they are of what the NAA is doing and that they plan to join.’” Finally, Mitchell is a true champion of the FAMU brand and a virtual walking database of FAMU accomplishments. Years ago, he noticed a need to set the record straight regarding the great things happening at FAMU that weren’t getting picked up in the media’s coverage. Therefore, prior to every speaking engagement, he makes it a point to contact the FAMU Office of Communications and External Relations or Alumni Affairs to ask for a copy of the latest University accolades so he can share them in his presentations. At any given time, one may hear him rattling off FAMU’s latest rankings from Forbes magazine,


Ends Historic Reign as NAA President

presidency to encourage consistent alumni giving. No speech or presentation by Mitchell is complete without his signature appeal describing how easy it is to give a little in order for FAMU to gain a lot. “If an alumnus donates $3.85 twice a month, that’s $100 a year. If 70,000 graduates participated, that would be $7 million dollars a year,” exclaims Mitchell. “As much as I would like people to join [the NAA], it’s more important to give to FAMU.” To enhance the ease of giving, Mitchell created the Rattler Check Program, a check debiting system that allows the FAMU Foundation to deduct routinely a set amount from a checking account, per the donor’s instructions. Mitchell is excited to know that the drumbeat for dollars is catching on through his requests and the appeals of others. During the FAMU National Convention in Houston, alumni gave more than $200,000 to FAMU. Mitchell recalls how one shy

the Princeton Review, or the College Database. He pointedly reminds everyone that FAMU has continuously been ranked among the best universities in the nation for many years. “Everywhere I go, I talk about how great FAMU is with ‘facts,’ not rumors,” Mitchell explains. “No one is doing what we are doing to enhance the middle class. We are producing the John Thompsons, Pam Olivers, and Will Packers of the world and people need to hear that.” Although President Mitchell’s term concludes in December, he plans to remain active in the FAMU NAA and help the team that worked so diligently by his side. “Once I leave, the work will go on because we have tremendous people in place,” says Mitchell. “Let’s continue to expose our children to FAMU just like we were exposed because the institution will do even greater things for them than it did for us.”

A&M MAGAZINE // FALL 2015 // 17


BY [Lissa JULES ]


rom an eager business student to an international motivational speaker and founder of the Global Citizen Community, Elijah John Bowdre is the ultimate definition of a global Rattler. Global Citizen Community (GCC) was established by Bowdre and his wife Raushanah with the desire to be a catalyst for Americans (especially those not typically exposed to such experiences) to discover China and life abroad. The Bowdres founded the organization with a determination to dispel myths and showcase the benefits of living and working abroad to students and professionals in America. Through GCC, John Bowdre organizes niche excursions and study abroad opportunities in China. He often travels to speak to both youth and adults in such places as Hong Kong, Shanghai, Wenzhou, Los Angeles, New York, Miami, Atlanta, and of course Tallahassee, to empower them with the knowledge that no matter their background or demographic they too can become a global citizen. But Bowdre, who received a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in finance from FAMU in 2008, wasn’t always so knowledgeable about the possibilities available from studying and working aboard. It was an experience in FAMU’s School of Business and Industry (SBI) that made him realize that becoming a global citizen was the future of doing business.

The most important thing I have learned, that has become resoundingly clear, is that the next level in education is a global experience... - Elijah John Bowdre

“It was not until I was blessed to attend SBI that my interest began to transform into the realm of possibility,” Bowdre said. As a student, Bowdre participated in SBI’s student-led Chief Financiers Organization (CFO) Wall Street initiatives, which produced the highest number of banking-related internships and permanent full-time employment offers in FAMU’s history. With the success of the student-led CFO, participants were encouraged to take the knowledge and successes they had gained beyond the U.S. and into the global marketplace. As a result, by the time Bowdre had reached his senior year he received a grant from the FAMU Office of International Education and Development to study economics and Mandarin courses for a semester at Shanghai University. The skills he learned at FAMU and overseas, would later serve as a lifeboat when financial crisis began to hit the U.S. In 2008, Bowdre graduated from FAMU and began his professional career in New York. But, his bright future on Wall Street seemed initially dimmed by a financial crisis facing the U.S. The crisis threatened the failure of large financial institutions, and although a bailout of banks by national governments occurred, stock markets still dropped, and in many areas, the housing market also suffered. 4 A&M MAGAZINE // FALL 2015 // 19

“Imagine if you’d saved all of your money and purchased a ticket for a luxury voyage on the biggest, shiniest, and safest ship in all the land – only the name of the ship is the Titanic,” said Bowdre, about the bleakness of trying to kick-start a career in the midst of a financial crisis. However, Bowdre’s disappointment did not last long. He began to tap into the resilience and creativity that was instilled in him as an SBI student. He came up with an idea that would not only help him reach his career goals, but also provide support to small to mid-sized businesses in the U.S. He developed strategic partnerships in Shanghai and created a brand strategy group helping others to build strategic relationships within China. “China was a glaring focus of the banking community,” Bowdre said. “This far away land definitely intrigued me. Similar to Wall Street, the ‘Great Wall’ held the allure as an even further goal for me to discover.” Bowdre is currently thriving in China. He is the youngest member of the prestigious International Advisory Board, and has provided professional training, coaching, or motivational presentations for a gamut of corporations and organizations including: Dragages Construction, J.P. Morgan, HSBC, Sun Hung Kai Financial, BP Petroleum, and the Los Angeles Urban League. “The most important thing I have learned, and that has become resoundingly clear, is that the next level of education is a global experience,” Bowdre expressed. As a young African-American entrepreneur living in Shanghai, Bowdre realized that his culture was often misrepresented, misunderstood, and at times invisible. This awareness resulted in the formation of his informal social group “HeiRen,” meaning, “Black people” in Mandarin. HeiRen is a network for the small population of Black people in Shanghai. Through many interactions, Bowdre


learned about the amazing accomplishments of the Black community and realized that it had failed at telling its own story. “We, as a collective unit of Blacks living outside of our home countries, had not put much effort into the crafting of our story or promoting our place in the global community,” Bowdre said. This newfound consciousness drove Bowdre to create an International Black History Month that would educate, commemorate, and celebrate the international Black Diaspora within the local and global community in China. His work to create the awareness month was recently highlighted in Black Enterprise. Bowdre has been a champion for FAMU’s place in the global marketplace, and his company, GCC, recently hosted President Elmira Mangum, Ph.D., who joined several other HBCU presidents, during a four-city tour of China as a part of the HBCU-China Scholarship Network. The network is a partnership with the China Education Association for International Exchange, and works to create study abroad, exchange, and cultural exposure opportunities. As a leading global professional, Bowdre acknowledges that FAMU taught him the importance of perseverance, strategic patience, and uplifting others. “FAMU has always been a leader,” Bowdre said. “SBI inherently instilled in me a responsibility to compete and achieve at the highest level.”

A&M MAGAZINE // FALL 2015 // 21


Elizabeth Murell Dawson:


Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a ‘keeper’ as a protector, a guardian, a custodian of all things worth cherishing. Throughout the existence of Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, many Rattlers have achieved greatness and made history but few have taken the charge of preserving it. In 1975, the late James Eaton, a beloved history professor at FAMU, created the Southeastern Regional Black Archives Research Center and Museum.

With the support of the Florida Legislature and alumni like former U.S. Rep. Carrie P. Meek, Eaton collected documents and memorabilia of the AfricanAmerican experience. He housed these items in the Black Archives and Museum, which is now called the Meek-Eaton Black Archives or MEBA. In addition to impacting the lives of thousands of young adults in the classroom, Eaton introduced hundreds of students to the field of historic preservation. And in the early ‘80s, Eaton would recruit a special scholar, who would go on to

follow in his footsteps in more ways than one. Elizabeth Murell Dawson, Ph.D., is a FAMU professor of AfricanAmerican history and a MEBA research associate. For many years, she served as MEBA’s interim director and is arguably one of Eaton’s most influential scholars in the history of FAMU and in the state of Florida. Deep Roots In a city not too far away from Tallahassee, Fla., Dawson’s story


begins in Jacksonville, where she grew up in a household with nine older siblings. As the baby of the bunch, Dawson said that she was always the mediator of her siblings and was a child who never required much. “I have always been a peacemaker,” Dawson recounted. “I wanted everyone to get along [so] if it was someone’s time to wash the dishes, and they were arguing over it, I would just wash the dishes.” Family, church, and school were the pillars of Dawson’s upbringing and she excelled academically 4

“When I look back on it now, some great personal sacrifices were made but that’s called inheritance... It was my duty to carry on his legacy and his work to the best of my ability. - Elizabeth Murell Dawson

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Elizabeth Murell Dawson:

KEEPER OF THE DREAM and athletically. As a state volleyball champion and softball player, Dawson was a standout in many ways. However, in a house with nine children, she said it’s hard to get a lot of attention. So in time, she discovered another talent that she said provided her with the perfect outlet to voice her opinions. “My greatest gift was that I could write [and] I had a beautiful skill and a desire to write,” Dawson recalled. A skill and a desire that would play a huge role during a time when African Americans were working to integrate white schools in Jacksonville, Fla. Dawson grew up during the latter years of integration, which was a dangerous time for children of color in America. At a young age, she took a front seat to the violence and cruelty that marked the Civil Rights era and writing provided her with the freedom that she needed to express herself. Her personal experiences would shape her core beliefs in regards to how people should be treated. “It was shocking to me to watch my older brothers and sisters or community friends come home bloody and bruised,” Dawson reminisced. “I think that left an impression on me in regards to inclusion—everybody has the right to be included, to seek out our own life worth,

whatever that may be.” Dawson’s exceptional writing skills and innate ability to teach enabled her to help her classmates during the difficult times of integration. “In Jacksonville, Fla. when we were integrated, a lot of times we were ‘taught over’ and so some of my friends in elementary or middle school would say I can’t read,” Dawson recalled. “[But] whatever the subject or material type, I could connect it to their world experiences. While Dawson was helping her friends pass classes and sharpen critical skills, she also managed to deal with her own personal struggles. Despite losing her mother in high school, Dawson didn’t use tragedy as an excuse to stop striving for success. She said her parents had always wanted their children to be independent— especially the girls. “Because there were a lot of girls in the family, they raised the girls to be extremely independent,” Dawson said. “Failure was not an option—if you wanted something, you went out there and you worked hard and you got it.” So she did. Marked Paths Dawson made high scholastic marks in high school and earned a


scholarship to attend FAMU. Upon her arrival, she didn’t know what she wanted to major in, but she knew that her gift had always been writing. With the guidance of influential instructors like the late Thelma Thurston Gorham, Dawson received a bachelor’s degree in journalism. She would later work as a general assignment reporter for the Tallahassee Democrat, where she said she was normally assigned stories that were related to the African-American community. While pursuing her journalism degree she also picked up a minor in history, after taking a class taught by none other than Prof. James Eaton. Eaton would later recruit Dawson along with others to train under him at MEBA. “The students came from his classes and they absolutely loved and adored him, Dawson said. “They called it being ‘Eatonized’.” As she had done with others many times before, Dawson made a positive impression on Eaton because of her thoroughness and hard work ethic. This enabled her to continue working under Eaton as a graduate student while she obtained a master’s degree in history. “One thing about me and Mr. Eaton’s relationship was that he was a man with such

a dynamic and charismatic personality that sometimes people wouldn’t tell him ‘no’ or tell him the truth,” Dawson said. “I think he appreciated me because I always told him the truth.” Many of the students that Eaton cultivated, wanted to work in the museum so they could showcase the artifacts. Few took the charge of working with documents and research in the archives. Dawson, of course, took that road because it was the less travelled one. “The archives are very intense, time-consuming, detailed work and a lot of people didn’t want to be bothered with that,” Dawson said. “As a student I helped set up the basic archival system that we have here today.” Upon receiving her master’s degree, Dawson married her college sweetheart—a former FAMU pharmacy student that she met in school—and moved to North Carolina to start a family. New Beginnings In North Carolina, Dawson worked as a librarian at Fayetteville State University. She lived there with her husband and their two children for almost six years. It wasn’t until a family member became sick in Jacksonville


A PERSONAL TOUCH5 Elizabeth Murell Dawson develops nurturing relationships with many students at FAMU, inspiring them to become preservers of the African-American culture.

that Dawson would return home for a couple of years. All the while, Eaton had not forgotten about his hard-working student. So when there was an electrical fire in the old Carnegie building and Eaton wanted to rebuild the museum, it’s no surprise that he made a call to Jacksonville and invited Dawson to come help take on the challenge. “It was a life-changing choice that I made,” Dawson remembered. “[Dr. Eaton] knew I was a defender of Black history, of the institution, and I think he needed someone who was not

self-serving.” With that phone call from Eaton, Dawson was back in Tallahassee just as quickly as she had left. Leading the Dreamers When Dawson returned to Tallahassee to help build up MEBA in the early 1990s, she also worked as an adjunct professor. Just like she had done many years ago in Jacksonville with her classmates who couldn’t read or write, Dawson was helping FAMU

students to pass their course work, plan their careers, and chase their unrealized dreams. One of Dawson’s students in the mid-1990’s was a young journalism student, who would later follow in her footsteps to become a FAMU assistant professor and an associate for MEBA. Yanela McLeod, a former assistant professor in the FAMU School of Journalism & Graphic Communication, said Dawson makes such an impact because she opens students up to history while teaching them about themselves.

“She’s one of those professors that when you go to college, you’re blessed to get, and you never forget,” McLeod said. “She has a heart for people and a commitment to FAMU students—a commitment that involves them living a rewarding life.” While working for MEBA and teaching at FAMU, Dawson returned to the classroom as a student to obtain a doctorate in information sciences from Florida State University. She credits Eaton for teaching her how to excel in the craft of 4

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Elizabeth Murell Dawson:

KEEPER OF THE DREAM history preservation and she also thanks him for showing her how to make a difference in the lives of the students. “When I see young people come to this campus, I am so serious and so intense that they get all that FAMU has to offer,” Dawson said. “This is an opportunity not only to pull themselves up…but [also] generations of people that come before them and hundreds of people who are just around them.” In 2003, Eaton, who had also served as a former chair of FAMU’s Department of History and African-American Studies, retired from FAMU. A year later, he unexpectedly passed away and the future leadership of MEBA was suddenly unclear. Inheritance There was no succession plan in place for a new leader after Eaton’s death. So naturally, the job of maintaining the operations of MEBA was placed upon someone who could undoubtedly do the job. Dawson said, she inherited the job of interim director with the expectation of remaining in that role for only a short amount of time. More than a decade later, Dawson found herself still serving in that same role because of her commitment to MEBA and the late, great Eaton. “When I look back on it now, some great personal sacrifices were made but that’s called inheritance,” Dawson said.

“It was my duty to carry on his legacy and his work to the best of my ability.” To whom much is given, much is required and Dawson will be the first to tell you that the position of interim director required a lot of her time. Over the next 12 years, Dawson and dedicated staff members would make tremendous strides for MEBA but sometimes it was at the cost of the things she loved most. She did not recognize it at the time, but Dawson said important things like family were oftentimes put on the backburner. “There were a lot of times that I was here working and I was away from my family,” Dawson remembers with a hint of pain in her voice. “[My job] came at such a tremendous personal sacrifice that many people will never know.” Although Dawson would have liked to spend more time at home with her biological children, her students at school provided her with a unique opportunity to stand in the gap and be a guardian for her other children. Samuel Flagler, a senior facilities management student from Clearwater, Fla., said that Dawson is a mother figure to him and that she is the reason that he has stayed in college and will be graduating in December. “Dr. Dawson has been the driving force behind my FAMU career, literally from the beginning to the end,” Flagler said. “Throughout work study


and being my teacher … she’s just been everything for me.” Dawson’s impact on the University far extends the four walls of her classrooms. Valencia Matthews, Ph.D., who is the dean of the College of Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities, said that she is inspired by Dawson’s spirit and her ability to connect with people. After working together on various projects, like the annual Artists in Bloom Festival, Matthews insisted that Dawson adds value to whatever she does through her passion and dedication to MEBA. “I am enraptured and engaged as she tells the stories [of African-American history],” Matthews recounted. “Even though she has gone through that archives countless times, it’s like the first time [every time she tells a story].” From managing the overall operations of MEBA to making information more accessible to the public, or even being influential in the historical FAMU markers posted across the city, Dawson’s list of contributions to MEBA is seemingly never-ending. Still, she insisted that everything that she’s accomplished at MEBA could not have been done without the help of others, like her right-hand partner Myra Perry. Perry has served as the coordinator of Administrative Services for MEBA for the last decade. “Nothing that I have done here has been done by myself,” Dawson readily admitted.

“People have helped me every step of the way.” LaTanya White, the new interim director of MEBA, said that in her current role she is constantly learning from both Perry and Dawson. White also said she has big shoes to fill when it comes to following in the footsteps of Dawson. “I never had her as a professor, but I am a student of hers,” White said. In her new position, White is working with Dawson to communicate the vision of MEBA to a new age of Millenials. White is also tasked with helping the next director of MEBA transition smoothly into their new role. Still, she proudly acknowledged that Dawson is vital in this process, even though she now serves primarily as a research associate. “There are some things that Dr. Eaton envisioned for the facility that no one else knows,” White explained. “Without [Dr. Dawson] being able to have that knowledge…there’s no way that we could serve the people that we serve in the capacities that we serve them.” A Living Treasure As with most dynamic people, Dawson’s story is a living tale with many moving parts. Her story is one of a woman who had an extraordinary skill for writing and a bigger-thanlife personality that allows her to connect with everyone she encounters. Her story is one of


a scholar, who used her love for research to make groundbreaking moves in a field that was new during her time. Her story is a story of unexpected inheritance and personal sacrifices in the name of social responsibility. A ‘keeper’ by definition, Murell Dawson is the custodian of African-American history and the guardian of past and future dreams. Dawson, a true preservationist, said her role is simply to facilitate the dreams of others. “I don’t want to be the keeper of the dream,” Dawson said. “I want to be the passer of the dream.” After decades of doing what she has had to do, Dawson finally gets the chance to pursue some of the things she wants to do. Back in the classroom with her students teaching them how to research and break down information is exactly where Dawson said she wants to be. With tons of personal projects on the horizon, she described her current position as truly having come full circle. Those who have been impacted by her most, maintain that she is the heartbeat of MEBA and is indeed a keeper of unrealized dreams. “Dr. Dawson is a living treasure trove of FAMU history,” McLeod declared. “She not only houses the legacy of FAMU in the Black Archives—she carries it in her heart.”

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Alumna, Actress T’Keyah Crystal Keymáh to Serve as Honorary Co-chair BY [Thomas L.K. SIMS ]


ublic service and the empowerment of citizens and communities rest at the core of the mission of Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University. With a reinvigorated focus on achieving its mission, the University has announced the launch of its inaugural FAMU Day of Service (FAMUDoS). FAMUDoS is a four-day service event culminating on Monday, January 18, 2016. In addition to honoring the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. and the national holiday observance, the event will connect FAMU alumni around the world, and serve to inspire service to their respective communities in the spirit of the University’s mantra, “College of Love and Charity.” “FAMU Day of Service is the vision of President Elmira Mangum and was created to encourage and showcase the great work that FAMUans are doing to serve the world,” said John Michael Lee, Jr., Ph.D., assistant vice president for alumni affairs. “FAMU has a long history of instilling a sense of service in its students and we’re hoping to engage Rattlers across the world during this event. It’s also a great way to spotlight our alumni’s passion for charity.” Lee says the FAMU Day of Service will include a series of campus activities right after the University’s Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Convocation, including service projects for students, faculty, alumni, and friends throughout the Tallahassee community. Simultaneously, FAMU NAA chapters in various cities will host service projects in their respective communities, and individuals may opt to organize their own groups for charitable service. Acclaimed alumna, actress, and producer T’Keyah Crystal Keymáh will serve as the honorary co-chair for the event. She says it is an honor to work with the University and shine light on a rich legacy of Rattler community service. “FAMU has a history of graduating more African-American baccalaureate degree holders than any other college,” says Keymáh. “That means there are more Rattlers in the world than graduates from any other HBCU. So, it is incumbent upon us to be leaders, not just in industry or entertainment or science, but in service.” Keymáh has fond memories of the love and charity she received from her teachers and mentors as a FAMU student. As an adult, she now appreciates the values they instilled in her, and how they operated as her extended family away from home. 4


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“Dr. Ronald O. Davis in the theater department, Dr. Beverly Barbe, leader of Orchesis Contemporary Dance Theatre -- every teacher that I had at FAMU was service-minded,” Keymáh recalls. “They went out of their way to keep up with me. That is what people are supposed to do. To work very hard and live a life of service when you can.” The FAMU Office of Alumni Affairs will partner with the FAMU National Alumni Association and its chapters to create FAMUDoS projects. Regional representatives will be assigned to work with and support the chapters as they develop their plans for the initiative. Many chapters may opt to conduct a project with charities that they are already affiliated with, such as homeless shelters, nursing homes, or youth mentorship programs. Others will use this as an opportunity to do something new specifically designed for the occasion. The details for each activity will be compiled and listed on a central website, “This is not the type of event where everyone has to do the same thing,” says Lee. “We want participants to give in the way that they feel most passionate about.” Lee says FAMUDoS is not just for alumni currently active in local chapters. It is a movement to bring together ALL alumni, from those who never joined a local chapter to those who haven’t connected with the University since graduation. It’s for those who conduct


their community service work with other non-profit organizations and those who have never volunteered before. Keymáh says this is the perfect opportunity to reconnect with old friends. “I would really like Rattlers who are connected to the NAA to reach out to the Rattlers who are not active,” she says. “Tell them they don’t have to join the chapter, just participate in this activity and see how it feels. Take this opportunity to reach out to that line sister, your frat brother, someone you knew at FAMU and haven’t seen since. Look them up now. That might be your service project once you find them.” In addition to the FAMU Day of Service activities, the chapters are encouraged to culminate the day with a social gathering, such as a picnic or BBQ, to fellowship and exchange stories about the experience. All participants are asked to chronicle their projects and share them with the University through social media and by submitting photos via the Day of Service website. “We’re hoping to engage all Rattlers across the country and the world, and we ask that they use social media and the web to display their commitment and inspire others,” says Lee. “Don’t forget to deck out in your best orange and green, show the world your Rattler pride, and use the hashtag: #FAMUDayofService.”

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BY [Thomas L.K. SIMS ]


institutions of higher learning compete for top scholars; there is an increasing movement to offer students a global experience that will prepare them for the competitive workforce. Universities like FAMU, sign Memoranda of Understanding with colleges in distant lands so students can take advantage of study-abroad programs, research opportunities, and experience other economies. Academic institutions diversify their student bodies to foster an environment for cultural exchange. The benefits of these strategies are evident at FAMU, where students hail from more than 70 countries, including several African countries, the Bahamas, Brazil, Indonesia, China, and the United Arab Emirates, to name a few. Often these students return back to their home countries to utilize their new degrees. Now, an additional option to maximize globalization efforts will be added to the list, as the FAMU National Alumni Association (FAMU NAA) launches the West Africa Native Land Chapter, the first international chapter. The idea to create a new alumni chapter in Africa was inspired by alumnus Kwabena Boateng, a 2002 electrical engineering graduate who works for Chevron Corporation in Africa. He traveled across the globe to attend the 2014 National Alumni Convention in Louisville, Ky., and was inspired to start the chapter so alumni would have a stronger connection back to the institution. “I am proud of my HBCU, African heritage, and identity,” says Boateng. “I hunger and thirst to see FAMU positioned as the gateway for African

students seeking an American college education.” This summer, FAMU signed an MOU opening the door to enhancing educational and research opportunities between the Univeristy and Siaya County, Kenya, which will provide a roadmap for further expansion by FAMU in Africa. Boateng expressed that there are many FAMU alumni in Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa, who are working in the fields of engineering, education leadership, business, and finance. He says he’s excited to see FAMU bring its agricultural research and expertise to the country. Although it is an exciting and welcomed addition, creating an alumni chapter in Africa posed a unique challenge for the FAMU NAA. The existing bylaws do not cover the formation of international chapters since all current chapters operate in the United States. Therefore, a new region must be formed through an official vote by the membership. “The NAA members will vote to modify its bylaws and create an international region, which will pave the way for the Africa chapter to be approved,” says FAMU NAA General Counsel Reggie Mitchell. “The vote will take place during the 2016 National Convention in Tampa, Fla. It is one of the first items on the agenda.” FAMU NAA President Tommy Mitchell, Sr. says the Africa chapter further emphasizes the global impact that FAMU alumni have on the world. “I was delighted to learn that there was interest in forming an alumni chapter in Africa,” says Mitchell, Sr. “I don’t think

there is any place in the world that you can go without running into FAMU alumni.” Mitchell Sr. says the FAMU NAA strives to make it easier for alumni to participate where they are and in the way that best serves their needs. Recently, the NAA approved a new chapter in Las Vegas, Nev., and an affinity chapter for the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering, which will become part of the Florida region. The NAA is also eyeing potentional chapters in the Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Brazil, and China, as there have been a rise in students coming from these locations and alumni moving to these locations. “We want to expand our involvement so that we don’t exclude anyone,” says Mitchell Sr. Reflecting on his efforts to stimulate international alumni involvement, Boateng says it has always been about living out what FAMU instilled in him: using his “Head, Heart, Hand, and Field” to serve Africa and the next generation.

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WINNING IN THE CLASSROOM It has been nearly five months since long-time administrator Milton Overton was selected to lead FAMU’s 16 intercollegiate athletics programs and oversee the University’s corrective action plan to improve academic progress. And within this short time, Overton has already been successful in infusing a culture of academic excellence within the University’s Department of Athletics. Whether on social media, in team practices, at games, or around the community, one is sure to hear the echoing of the Department’s new mantra developed by Overton upon his arrival: “Building champions in the classroom, on the field, and in life.” “Florida A&M University’s passion for excellence in academics and athletics clearly align with my personal mission to inspire young leaders to make a difference in our nation and around the globe. I believe that a first-class education combined with a great student-athlete experience helps mold champions,” Overton said. According to President Elmira Mangum, Ph.D., Overton’s approach is aligned with her vision for FAMU Athletics. “Milton Overton demonstrates the level of excellence, academic leadership, and sound administrative experience needed to lead FAMU’s Department of Athletics,” said Mangum. “I am impressed with his professional narrative and the type of role model that he has already become to our student-athletes and the FAMU community.” While FAMU holds championship MEAC titles in baseball, women’s cross country, women’s outdoor track and field, softball, and cheerleading, Overton is focusing on building champions from the inside out. And he’s building upon the previous academic successes of such teams as women’s track and field with a GPA of 3.1, women’s bowling with a GPA of 3.0., and men’s tennis with a GPA of 3.5. “FAMU has a great group of student-athletes, coaches, and staff in place,” Overton said. “I can promise—confidently—to deliver the kind of results necessary to live up to the rich legacy of this premier University.” Overton was preceded by a multi-year NCAA Accelerating Academic Success Program Comprehensive Grant for $675,000. The funding was timely, as it was just what was needed to provide support for improving the University’s Academic Performance Rate and implementing its improvement plan. The grant is already being put to great use, as it is helping to support initiatives to help student success, graduation, and retention. He has coupled the opportunities provided through the grant and alumni and community support, with new initiatives that provide leadership and professional development for student-athletes. Under Overton’s watch, the focus of every practice, every meeting, every study session, and at every event is to build the whole student-athlete.


BY [Issac MORGAN ] “The NCAA and the University have made a financial commitment to ensure our student-athletes have the resources that they need to be successful in the classroom, and I encourage everyone in the Rattler Community to join us,” Overton said. New and revamped programs being implemented include the Enhanced Academic Support Monitoring Program, Rattler Summer Institute, and Ready to STRIKE, a fifth-year exhausted eligibility degree completion initiative. TEAM WORK MAKES THE DREAMS WORK According to Overton, each of the programs have one thing in common – teamwork. He often touts that it takes teamwork to build a well-rounded student-athlete, and most of all to build a true championship program. Overton echoes this sentiment to the FAMU Athletics staff during team meetings. “Either we rise together, or we fall together… the choice is ours,” he says. While the focus on academic achievement, and developing the whole Rattler, may seem like a lot to balance while working to improve FAMU’s outcomes on the field, Overton points to one team that shows anything is possible. “The FAMU tennis team is a prime example of how we want our teams to achieve academically. Our first tier to building champions is academics. Without strong academics, on-court (or on-field) successes are marginalized,” he said. Five FAMU tennis players, as well as the entire team, recently earned the prestigious Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s 2014-2015 All-Academic Award. In order for a team to receive this honor, each player’s GPA. must be at least 3.5 or above.

Head Tennis Coach Carl Goodman, Ph.D., takes pride in the academic success of his student-athletes. “They are truly scholar-athletes,” Goodman said. “They go hard in practice and find time and energy to go to their rooms or library to study. It’s rare to see a whole team like that.” According to Overton, one of the key players in executing the new vision for FAMU Athletics is the Department’s staff, such as the proposal team for the NCAA grant (Associate Athletic Directors E. D’Wayne Robinson and Angela Adams Suggs, Assistant Director for Access and Athletic Academic Support Joycelyn Ellenwood, Director of University Assessment Mark Howse, Ph.D., and Faculty Athletic Representative Ebenezer Oriaku, Ph.D.). Not to mention, Academic Advisor Anthony Williams, who proudly represented the University as he was recognized by the National Association of Academic Athletic Advisors during its annual institute. As the FAMU community looks to the Rattlers to bring home some big wins this fall and throughout the year, the FAMU athletics team remains hopeful that Rattler fans will not only be proud of their work on the field, but more importantly be inspired by their performance as scholars and community servants off the field.

Get to Know Milton Overton

By FAMU Sports Information Milton Overton’s career spans 20 years in intercollegiate athletics administration. At the University of Alabama, Overton provided oversight of a $25 million budget, including seven business units. These units included the No. 1 trademark licensing program for intercollegiate athletics, Crimson Tide Productions, and the ESPN SEC Network, marketing and branding, outbound ticket sales, and event technology. Overton is a 2009 graduate of the NCAA Pathway Program. A four-year starter as an offensive lineman at the University of Oklahoma, Overton earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology in 1995. He then went on to earn two master’s degrees in 1998, one in higher education and administration, and the other in human relations. Overton worked in academic services and as the CHAMPS/LifeSkills Coordinator for the OU Sooners before joining the Athletics Department at Texas Christian University in 1999. Overton was director of Academic Support at TCU, where he also served as an adjunct professor. He joined Texas A&M University as assistant athletics director for Academic Services in 2002 before being promoted to associate athletics director for Sports Administration and Technology Advancement in 2003. He raised $250,000 for men’s tennis facility upgrades and led renovations and construction for several other facilities, including Kyle Field. He also provided oversight to seven TAMU Sports programs. Overton was the founder and CEO of Enki System Inc. from 2000-2011, which provided software solutions for athletic-academic support programs across the country.

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applause Courtney Vinson Hired as Associate AD at University of Memphis After serving as the assistant athletic director at the University of Central Florida for the past four years, Courtney Vinson has accepted the associate athletic director and senior woman administrator position at the University of Memphis. University of Memphis Athletics Director Tom Bowen said he was excited to welcome Vinson to the university, where she will oversee the operations of the Athletics Office of Compliance. “We conducted a national search and had an incredible group of qualified candidates for this position,” Memphis Director of Athletics Tom Bowen said. “We were pleased that Courtney decided to be a part of the process.“ Vinson, who is a distinguished 2003 graduate of FAMU’s School of Journalism & Graphic Communication, will also serve as the sports administrator for several of the university’s programs and be responsible for supporting the operations of the CHAMPS Life Skills Program. Her role also includes working with academic advising as a liaison. At FAMU, the Long Island, N.Y. native was a member of the track and field team and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Her career spans four years with UCF, overseeing the athletics compliance office, and serving as the director of compliance at Clemson University (2008-11). Vinson earned her master’s degree in athletic administration from Marshall University in 2006.


Meredith Clark Named on the Root 100 List of African-American “Achievers and Influencers” The Root selected Meredith Clark as one of its prestigious top 100 African-American “achievers and influencers” between the ages of 25 and 45 who’ve affected the landscape of the year. While pursuing a doctorate degree in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, Clark wrote her dissertation on “Black Twitter.” She is currently celebrated for her research and commentary on the #BlackLivesMatter movement. Clark is currently an assistant professor at the Mayborn School of Journalism. She has subsequently served in various capacities such as a reporter, columnist, editorial board member and community newspaper editor at newspapers including the Capitol Outlook, the Tallahassee Democrat, and the Raleigh News & Observer. She received her bachelor’s degree in political science and her master’s degree in journalism from FAMU. Clark was joined on the list by fellow Rattlers from various industries, including Mayor Andrew Gillum, Rob Hardy, Will Packer, Dee Rees, Common, and Umi Selah, formerly known as Phillip Agnew.

Civil Rights Leader Robert Hayling Honored by Florida Dental Association

Tom Hafer Receives Volunteers of America Leadership in Ministry Award

At the 2015 Florida Dental Association Convention in Orlando, Fla., the Florida Dental Association (FDA) presented Dr. Robert Hayling with the Special Recognition Award. In 1951, shortly after graduating from Florida A&M University, Robert Hayling enlisted in the United States Air Force where he earned a commissioned officer rank of first lieutenant before pursuing a career in dentistry. In 1960, Hayling graduated from Meharry Medical College School of Dentistry in Nashville with a dental degree. Hayling was the first African American in Florida to become a member the American Dental Association with all rights and privileges of membership. He was also instrumental in Florida’s Civil Rights Movement.

Dee Rees Receives Historic Emmy Nomination for HBO Film “Bessie”

Pastor Tom Hafer, director of spiritual services for Gulf Coast Village, recently received national recognition as the recipient of the Volunteers of America Leadership in Ministry Award. Following his motto, “Caring for Yourself to Better Care for Others,” Pastor Tom Hafer gives advice on ways ministers and their communities can lead a better and more active lifestyle. Pastor Hafer preaches about why it is important for ministers to be physically fit.and travels the country empowering various communities. He received his bachelor’s degree from FAMU in physical therapy. He attended the Lutheran Theological Seminary of Philadelphia and received a master’s degree in religion in 2006.

North Miami Re-elects Smith Joseph as Mayor Smith Joseph was selected last November to finish the remainder of North Miami Mayor Lucie Tondreau’s term. He was recently re-elected after earning 7,058 votes, just over 54 percent of North Miami voters. Joseph is excited about the opportunity to foster “real change” in North Miami. He received his doctorate in pharmacy in 1991 from FAMU. He went on to become a registered pharmacist at Walgreens, then a clinical pharmacist at Miami Heart Institute. In 2010, he enlisted the help of a few doctors and nurses and funded one of the few HaitianAmerican led medical mission teams that assisted in the Haiti earthquake relief efforts.

FAMU alumna Dee Rees, who is the director of the HBO film “Bessie” starring Queen Latifah, was recently nominated for an Emmy Award. Her nomination marked the first time in history an African-American woman was nominated simultaneously for “Writing For a Limited Series, Movie or a Dramatic Special” and “Directing For a Limited Series, Movie or a Dramatic Special.” Rees received her MBA from FAMU before attending New York University’s graduate film program. She has written and directed several short films including Orange Bow and Pariah. Pariah was a finalist for the 2009 Sundance/NHK International Award.

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Voorhees College Names Teesa Brunson AVP for Institutional Advancement Voorhees College President Cleveland Sellers named Teesa Brunson assistant vice president for Institutional Advancement. In her new role, Brunson will be charged with implementing all fundraising efforts, such as annual fund campaigns, special events and other fundraising initiatives. She previously served as director of communications and was responsible for overseeing the college’s marketing efforts. She has been employed with Voorhees since 2007. In 2005, Brunson received her master’s degree in print journalism from Florida A&M University. She is currently pursuing a doctorate in higher education leadership from Nova Southeastern University.

HCC Ybor City Campus President Shawn Robinson Awarded Alumnus of the Year For many years, Shawn Robinson, J.D., has been an active member in his community and has invested his time in the Kiwanis Club of Tampa, Ybor City Development Corporation, Ybor City Chamber, Hillsborough Kids, the Early Learning Coalition, and Florida A&M University’s College of Law Board of Visitors. As a result of his labor and dedication Robinson, who currently serves as the Ybor City Campus president of Hillsborough Community College, was awarded “Alumnus of the Year” by the FAMU College of Law. Robinson completed his juris doctorate degree at the College of Law in December 2005. He served fifteen years at Valencia Community College in Orlando, Fla., where he served in various capacities from mathematics professor to dean.

Comedian Roy Wood Joins the Daily Show


Glen Wright Honored with UF Outstanding Young Alumni Award The University of Florida (UF) College of Veterinary Medicine named its 2015 Distinguished Award winners and FAMU alumnus Glen Wright was among the selected honorees. Glen Wright, D.V.M, a 2006 graduate of UF veterinary medical college, received the Outstanding Young Alumni Award. Wright earned his bachelor’s degree from FAMU in 2002, and he was recruited back to FAMU for the job he now holds as the director of the Veterinary Technology Program. He was instrumental in leading the FAMU program through accreditation by the American Veterinary Medical Association. Currently, Wright serves on the UF veterinary college admissions committee.

‘The Daily Show has selected comedian and FAMU Alumnus Roy Wood Jr. as one of its newest correspondents. While attending Florida A&M University in 1998, Wood began his journey into comedy at the early age of 19. Roy Wood Jr., a Birmingham native, joins the show as a regular contributor, along with Ronny Chieng and Desi Lydic. The standup comedian has been celebrated as “a standout” by The Hollywood Reporter. Entertainment Weekly describes his style as “charismatic crankiness.” A proud 2001 graduate of FAMU’s School of Journalism & Graphic Communication, Wood has been featured regularly on many national TV shows such as “Conan” and ESPN’s “Sports Nation,” to name a few.

Attorney LaDray Gilbert Receives Distinguished Alumni Award Attorney and current FAMU College of Law Alumni Alliance President LaDray Gilbert was recently given the school’s Distinguished Alumni Award in Orlando, Fla. Gilbert’s dedication and service to the law school were among the highlights listed when he received the award, which was the first of its kind given by the FAMU College of Law since it re-opened at its Orlando location. Since graduation, Attorney LaDray Gilbert has established a bar prep scholarship at the law school that is given each year to a deserving student as a resource to help them cover expenses during the bar exam. He was elected as the president of the school’s alumni organization earler this year.

Memorial Regional Hospital Names Christopher Smith New Director of Pharmacy

Legacy Magazine Names Torey Alston Among its 2015 “40 Under 40” List FAMU Board of Trustees member Torey Alston was recently listed by Legacy Magazine among its 2015 “40 Under 40” influencers. Alston received his bachelor’s degree and an MBA with a concentration in marketing and management from FAMU. While at FAMU, he served in various leadership roles including two terms as class president, student senator, and president of the FAMU Student National Alumni Association. Alston is a life member of the NAACP, FAMU National Alumni Association, and Province Life Member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. He resides in Gainesville and is the newly appointed equal opportunity director for the City.

Melton Mustafa Selected as Quarter Finalist for Grammy Educator Award FAMU graduate Melton Mustafa was selected as a quarter-finalist for the 2015 Grammy Music Educator Award. This is his second nomination, and he placed in the top 200 out of 7,000 teachers. Mustafa is from a musically inclined family. His father performed with Duke Ellington and Count Basie, among others. Currently, Mustafa works as a professor of music at Florida Memorial University in Miami Gardens. In addition, he teaches six classes at Parkway Middle School, and helps other young instructors who are trying to establish their own programs by making himself available for personal mentoring, clinics, and workshops.

Community activist, alumnus, and Miami native Christopher C. Smith started his career at Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood, Fla. as a clinical pharmacist. Smith realized that he had a passion for clinical practice areas such as critical care, emergency medicine, and psychiatry. After several years of working in these fields at Memorial Regional Hospital, Smith redirected his focus on a more administrative role and was first promoted to clinical supervisor, and then operations coordinator in the inpatient pharmacy in 2010. From there the rest is history. He is the first African American to hold the lead pharmacy operations position at Memorial Regional Hospital. As the director of Clinical Pharmacy Operations, he is responsible for overseeing the Memorial Regional Pharmacy’s operations and finances in its entirety.

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From The Bookshelf Guzmán Chronicles the Life of L.A. Nixon


As the nation celebrates the 50th year of the Voting Rights Act, signed into law in August 1965, it is only fitting that L.A. Nixon’s life story is published this year as well... - Will Guzman, Ph.D.

In the fall of 1999, Will Guzman met Maceo C. Dailey, Ph.D., the director of the African-American Studies program at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), during a visit to FAMU’s campus. Guzmán was taking graduate courses at the time, and Dailey encouraged him to enroll in UTEP’s new history doctoral program, mentioning the possibility of writing the biography of activist and physician Lawrence A. Nixon. Eventually, Guzmán decided to begin his doctoral studies at UTEP and work on the Nixon biography. After completing nearly three years of research, Guzmán said his decision to write the biography was one that he would never regret. Guzman’s new book, “Civil Rights in the Texas Borderlands: Dr. Lawrence A. Nixon and Black Activism,” highlights some of Nixon’s major accomplishments including his efforts in challenging the laws that prohibited African Americans from voting in the democratic primary elections, cofounding his local NAACP chapter, and pursuing a college degree during a time when few African Americans were able to attend institutions of higher learning. “As the nation celebrates the 50th year of the Voting Rights Act, signed into law in August 1965, it is only fitting that L.A. Nixon’s life story is published this year as well,” Guzmán said. Guzmán said his students have directly benefited from the knowledge and experiences he gained while conducting research and writing the book. He explained that the publication process required an abundance of patience and fortitude, but he has transferred this into his lectures and assignments to enhance the classroom environment. “The experiences I have gained at FAMU, both as a student and as an assistant professor for the Department of History and Political Science, have been tremendously invaluable,” Guzmán said. “They have enriched me personally and most importantly intellectually. The name and brand that comes with FAMU has cachet which has afforded me many opportunities and thus allowed my career to grow.” “Civil Rights in the Texas Borderlands: Dr. Lawrence A. Nixon and Black Activism” can be purchased at a number of places including, the FAMU bookstore, and by calling 1-800-621-2736 or visiting the website


Simone Pens Book on ‘Fabulous, Fearless’ Journey Upon graduating from the FAMU School of Business and Industry in 2003, Arian Simone had huge career aspirations. She landed a job in Los Angeles in 2004, but was laid off after just one month of employment. Simone was forced to live out of her car, selling her clothing and belongings to pay for gas and food, but she did not let that stop her from making her dreams of success come true. After seven months of being homeless, Simone began receiving referrals for her public relations and marketing work. She went on to do work in the film industry for movies such as “Stomp The Yard,” “This Christmas,” “Takers,” “Quantum of Solace 5ARIAN SIMONE 007,” “Hancock,” “Seven Pounds,” “First Sunday,” “Taking of Pelham 1 2 3,” and many more. Now, Simone has released a new book about her journey to success entitled “My Fabulous and Fearless Journey: From Homeless to Hollywood.” Discussing her new release, Simone explained that she chose to transparently share her story because she wants it to serve as an inspiration for all readers to continue to pursue their dreams despite the hurdles they may have to overcome. Simone currently hosts “Fearless Discussions,” where she focuses on an array of topics including beauty, fame, character, and love. In addition to her speaking tours, Simone recently wrapped up her book tour for “My Fabulous and Fearless Journey.” “My Fabulous and Fearless Journey: From Homeless to Hollywood” is available on iTunes, Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, and at

Bereola Drops Knowledge for the ‘Gentlewoman’ After his first book, “Bereolasque: The Contemporary Gentleman & Etiquette Book for the Urban Sophisticate,” debuted in the top five on the iTunes self-improvement book list in 2009 and became an Amazon Kindle bestseller, Enitan Bereola II decided to follow the same formula for his second release, this time focusing his attention on the ladies. Bereola, a 2006 graduate of the FAMU School of Business and Industry, recently debuted “Gentlewoman: Etiquette for a Lady, from a Gentleman.” While the book focuses on women, it is written from a male perspective and provides commentary on the evolution of femininity in contemporary society. In his “author’s letter,” Bereola said his book explores the demise of femininity and class in contemporary society. Though he is offering women advice throughout the book, Bereola said he remains sensitive to the fact that men do not experience the world from the same viewpoint of a woman. In an effort to provide the most meaningful advice to women of all ages and backgrounds, Bereola conducted research and engaged in conversation with a variety of women from his speaking and book tours and on social media. Releasing “Gentlewoman: Etiquette for a Lady, from a Gentleman” took Bereola three years preparation time. After debuting as the No. 1 “Hot New Release” in all of its categories and becoming a bestseller on Amazon, Bereola said he considers this to be his most important book to date and the work of which he his most proud of producing. “Gentlewoman: Etiquette for a Lady, from a Gentleman” is available on It is also available at Barnes and Noble online. The book is also available at A&M MAGAZINE // FALL 2015 // 41

Campus Notes FAMU Faculty Members Publish Patent Congratulations are in order for inventors Mehboob B. Sheikh, Ph.D., Devaiah Kambiranda, Ph.D., and Hemanth KN Vasanthaiah, Ph.D., who recently published their patent on genes from muscadines and Florida hybrid grapes. This invention relates to protection against, and resistance to, pathogen attacks in grapes. Their patent number, 9,051,381 was issued June 9, 2015. Sheikh is a professor of plant biotechnology at the FAMU College of Agriculture and Food Sciences’ Center for Viticulture and Small Fruit Research. The field-grown muscadine and Florida hybrid bunch grape cultivars maintained at the Center’s vineyard were used for field and bioassay studies.

FAMU is Home to Six Prestigious McKnight Fellowship Recipients Six Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) students have been selected to participate in the Florida Education Fund (FEF) McKnight Dissertation Fellowship and McKnight Doctoral Fellowship programs. The 2015-2016 Dissertation Fellowship recipients include Felicia Williams, whose area of focus is educational leadership, as

well as Jason Caldwell and Krystal Pree, whose areas of focus are in the environmental sciences. This fellowship provides one year of financial support by way of a stipend for up to $12,000 for students completing their dissertation in STEM disciplines. Awardees demonstrate superior academic achievement and are committed to careers in teaching and research at the university or college level. FAMU students Niya King and Brandon Moton were both selected to participate in the McKnight Doctoral Fellowship Program. King is pursuing a doctoral degree in civil engineering, and Moton is pursuing a Doctor of Public Health degree. Kimberly Barber, who is pursuing a Doctor of Pharmacy degree in pharmaceutical sciences with an emphasis in medicinal chemistry, was named an Affiliate McKnight Doctoral Fellow. The Doctoral Fellowships provide full tuition or up to $5,000 per year to awardees, and an annual stipend of $12,000 for students pursuing doctoral degrees in the fields of arts and sciences, business, engineering, visual and performance arts, health sciences, and nursing at one of nine approved Florida universities. The program is designed to address the underrepresentation of African-American and


Hispanic faculty at colleges and universities in Florida by increasing the number of minorities with doctoral degrees to ensure greater eligibility for teaching at the college and university levels.

White House Names Two FAMU Students HBCU All-Stars The White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) has named two Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) students 2015 “HBCU All-Stars.” The U.S. Department of Education recently announced the names of 83 undergraduate, graduate, and professional students from 70 HBCUs who have been tapped to serve as ambassadors to the White House by providing outreach and communication with fellow students about the value of education. FAMU graduate students Gilda Brown and Jennifer Smith were selected as All-Stars from a pool of more than 450 applicants. According to the initiative’s executive director, Ivory A. Toldson, this year’s class of All-Stars will serve as representatives of the talent that HBCUs cultivate and will help the White House “meaningfully engage with students, showcase their talent, and advance our agenda to advance academic

excellence at HBCUs.” FAMU President Elmira Mangum, Ph.D., recognized Brown and Smith before the University community during her recent “State of the University,” address. As ambassadors, Brown and Smith will assist President Barack Obama in achieving his goal of increasing the percentage of African Americans who complete college. Also, the students will have the opportunity to engage with other HBCU scholars to showcase their individual and collective talents across the HBCU community. They will also be responsible for promoting the initiative’s programs on FAMU’s campus, social media, and at regional and national events. Brown is a second-year pharmacology student in the FAMU College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences master’s degree program. Smith, an Atlanta native, who is pursuing her master’s degree in curriculum and instruction. FAMU’s School of Nursing Listed Among Nation’s Top Programs The Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University School of Nursing’s fall semester is off to an incredible start. Not only did its graduate program recently receive the maximum eight-year reaccreditation from the Accreditation

Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN), but the school has also been ranked among the top 20 best value nursing programs in the U.S. by, and among the top 25 (No. 21 out of 1,189 entries) nursing programs in the eastern region by The Nursing Journal. The ranking system was created using the National Center for Education Statistics’ College Navigator Database to identify the most affordable competitive institutions offering undergraduate nursing degrees. The site also applauded FAMU for its ideal location and giving nursing majors easy access to fieldwork in large hospitals, small community clinics, and other facilities. The Nursing Journal’s ranking system recognizes America’s top nursing programs that offer the best value for its students, including a high-quality education at a reasonable cost, and educational options that make it easier for today’s busy students to attend. Passage rates and student satisfaction are also among the metrics used to identify the best programs the nation has to offer. Only three other Florida universities made the top 25: the University of Florida, University of South Florida, and Florida International University. FAMU’s School of Nursing

currently offers the following degrees and programs: a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), the Fast-Track Registered Nurse-BSN Program, a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN); and the Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing Science Cooperative Program with the University of Florida and Florida State University. Also, post-degree certificate programs for students with master degrees in advanced practice nursing (APN) and non-APN roles are offered.

FAMU is Top HBCU for Research and Development A National Science Foundation (NSF) report lists Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) as the No.1 historically Black college or university (HBCU) in the nation for total research and development (R&D) expenditures. The NSF recently released data from its Federal Science and Engineering Support to Universities, Colleges, and Nonprofit Institutions study, which reveals that the top 20 HBCUs combined, had total R&D expenditures of $455.1 million, while FAMU alone accounted for a staggering $51.1 million of that amount. The work of FAMU’s research community will be on display this fall during the Inaugural Discovery on Parade

Showcase, a collaborative effort between FAMU, Florida State University, and Tallahassee Community College. The event is scheduled for Dec. 1 at 5 p.m. at the Augustus B. Turnbull Florida State Conference Center. FAMU is One of Forbes’ Top American Colleges Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) has been named by Forbes magazine as one of “America’s Top Colleges” for 2015. Forbes also listed FAMU as one of its “Best in the South” colleges. Universities and colleges appearing on the list are recognized for providing their students with the best return-oninvestment in categories such as student satisfaction, postgraduate success, academic success, career success, nationally competitive awards, student debt, retention, and graduation rates. Other universities and colleges listed included Pomona, Princeton, Harvard, Yale, Brown, Columbia, and Cornell. The rankings are prepared exclusively for Forbes by the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, a Washington, D.C. think tank founded by Ohio University economist Richard Vedder. President Receives Global Honor Celebrating Women International named FAMU President Elmira Mangum, Ph.D., a 2015 Women of Distinction

Global Leadership Award in Education honoree. Celebrating Women International is an organization that aims to mobilize and inspire women across the globe and to recognize and celebrate their contributions. The organization has also been instrumental in the fight against cancer and HIV/AIDS. President Mangum was recognized on Oct. 3, the date of the University’s founding in 1887, during the annual Women of Distinction Awards ceremony in Paradise Island, Bahamas. During the ceremony, women from around the globe who have made significant contributions to art, business, education, finance and trade, religion, law, civics, media, and sports were recognized. President Mangum was honored alongside global leaders such as Muriel A. Howard, Ph.D., president of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities; Donna E. Shalala, former United States Secretary of Health and Human Services; Sheikha Lubna Bint Khalid Al Qasimi, minister of International Cooperation and Development for the United Arab Emirates; Nontombi Naomi Tutu, race and gender justice activist; Sandra Granger, first lady of Guyana; Joyce Banda, former president of the Republic of Malawi; Whitney Houston (posthumously), music icon; and Sheryl Lee Ralph, activist, actress, and producer. 4

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Campus Notes FAMU Small Business Center Receives High Honor Since its inception, the Florida Small Business Development Center at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University has assisted thousands of North Florida businesses from startup to company growth. In recognition of its profound impact on Florida’s small business community, the Center’s Associate Director Aundra’ McGlockton Sr., was recently honored at the Florida SBDC 2015 Performance Excellence Awards. McGlockton received the “Florida Star of the Year” award. The Star Award is the highest given by the SBDC to employees who have made extraordinary contributions to their state network. In 2014, McGlockton was instrumental in helping the Center’s clients obtain equity investments and loans totaling more than $3.6 million. He also assisted his clients in creating and retaining 144 jobs. In total, 298 entrepreneurs and business owners were serviced by the Center in 2014, translating into 5,481 consulting hours, 884 jobs, $27.8 million in government contracts, and $4.8 million in investment capital. McGlockton was recognized at the 35th Annual America’s SBDC Conference in San Francisco, Calif. this September.

The Florida SBDC at FAMU professional staff of consultants and trainers provides comprehensive, confidential business consulting services that are at no cost to the client. The Center is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration and Florida A&M University. The SBDC at FAMU serves eight counties within the Northwest Florida region, from Leon to Madison. FAMU, Domi Station to Provide Innovation Opportunities for Students FAMU has signed a historic agreement with North Florida’s Domi Station, located at 914 Railroad Ave. in Tallahassee, to provide its students with a space to incubate their business ideas. FAMU’s School of Business and Industry (SBI) facilitated the partnership with Domi Station. It offers incubator and co-working space with the goal of establishing a makers community and inspiring the development of high-impact startup companies among students. The incubator program invests in early-stage entrepreneurs and accelerates their growth by providing access to a network of mentors, investors, and collaborators. Through the partnership, graduate and student entrepreneurs of all ages will


be exposed to experiential learning and have access to the many services offered by Domi Station. These services include four dedicated incubator spaces for FAMUans to house their businesses at Domi, where they will receive mentoring on the viability of their business models, and on the funding and staffing needs for their businesses, according to Shawnta Friday-Stroud, Ph.D., dean of SBI. According to SBI and Domi Station organizers, students get exposed to all sides of business administration as well as in-depth industry knowledge in developing a product or service. Additionally, they will be eligible for all the rights and privileges of any Domi member, including spending time with and having access to professionals with backgrounds in intellectual property law, strategic marketing, and venture capital. FAMU Makes History with Two Black Female Doctoral Graduates in Physics Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University continues to be the top producer of doctoral degrees awarded to African Americans in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics-related programs (STEM), according to the FAMU Annual

Accountability Report. Staci R. Brown from Chicago, Illinois and Patrice Jackson-Edwards from Jacksonville, Florida both received their doctoral degrees in physics during the 2015 Spring Commencement exercise. Doctoral degrees in physics received by Black women are a rare and uncommon occurrence. According to data provided by the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), there were approximately 1,600 doctoral degrees awarded in physics in 2013-2014; none were received by women, and only two were received by Blacks, both of which were earned at FAMU. Both women received undergraduate degrees in physics from FAMU and presented research on various topics such as detection sensitivity and the use of K-shell X-ray Fluorescence (KXRF). FAMU Researchers Win 1st Place at NSF Innovation Competition A team of Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) researchers took home the first place award at the National Science Foundation Innovation Corps (NSF I-Corps) competition held in Atlanta. The competition brought together 21 teams from across the Eastern U.S.

comprised of the most innovative researchers. Researchers were challenged to transfer their knowledge into products and processes that benefit society, and show the potential for broader applicability and impact in the commercial world. Principal Investigator Y. Ping Hsieh, Ph.D., a professor in the FAMU College of Agriculture and Food Sciences Center for Water and Air Quality led FAMU’s team. Biochemist Xiaoling Ding, Ph.D., served as the team’s entrepreneur lead, and Lawrence Tinker, Ph.D., of the Florida Institute for the Commercialization of Public Research, served as the team’s mentor. The FAMU team of innovators represented the only historically Black university or college (HBCU) selected to participate in the competition. The University outpaced several of the nation’s top research programs, including Harvard, with their project titled, “MultiElement Scanning Thermal Analysis” or MESTA. According to Hsieh, the rapid MESTA technology is poised to benefit society in areas such as domestic security and environmental health. Within just 30 minutes, MESTA can characterize and analyze the materials that comprise a variety of complex compounds from the air and crude oil to mysterious white powders

and wetland soils. MESTA is funded by a $50,000 grant from the NSF. According to Hsieh, the next step is to determine the best commercial uses and best options for taking the technology to market. FAMU and Siaya County, Kenya Governor Sign MOU FAMU Provost Marcella David and Siaya County, Kenya Governor Cornell Rasanga Amoth signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) today. The MOU will open the door to enhancing educational and research opportunities between FAMU and Siaya County as well as provide a roadmap for further expansion by FAMU in Kenya and East Africa. The MOU will enhance access to quality education for the people of Siaya County. It will also provide for joint educational and research activities, exchange of students and scholars, and increased funding opportunities for the College of Agriculture and Food Sciences (CAFS) from agencies such as USAID, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and other global organizations. Siaya County is located in the southwest part of Kenya and has a population of more than 840,000. It is one of 47 counties in the nation. Under the Constitution of Kenya, county governments oversee county health services, trade

development, pre-primary education, implementation of specific national government policies, and public work and services. David praised CAFS Dean Robert Taylor, Ph.D., and his staff for forging the agreement that will put FAMU at the forefront of U.S. land-grant institutions in terms of fostering collaborative ventures with African nations. The MOU also supports President Barack Obama’s initiative to improve food security in Siaya County. President Obama’s grandmother is currently an ambassador of food security in Siaya County. FAMU Leading the Way in Mental Health First Aid Training The Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) Center for Ethnic Psychological Research and Application (CEPRA) is training North Florida citizens and organizations to possess skills that are in high demand across the nation in the wake of recent tragedies. The mission of the Center is to promote mental health wellness, enhance mental health literacy, and improve overall behavioral/mental health for all individuals with special emphasis on AfricanAmerican and underserved populations. The Center is a part of the Department of

Psychology and is housed in the College of Social Sciences, Arts, and Humanities. Under the Center’s leadership, FAMU now offers the Mental Health First Aid Course and the Youth Mental Health First Aid Course. Mental health first aid is the assistance an adult provides for another adult who may be experiencing a mental health challenge, and youth mental health first aid is the assistance an adult gives a young person who may be developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis. Participants taking each course receive a certificate following the eight-hour training. The Center recently completed trainings with representatives from the Gretna Police Department, the City of Tallahassee, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation, Florida State University, and Tallahassee Community College. In addition, 23 community members became certified youth mental health first aiders during a training provided by the Center in conjunction with the University’s Annual Imhotep Interdisciplinary Student Research Conference.

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Sybil Collins Mobley, Ph.D., September 2015

Mobley, dean emerita of the School of Business and Industry (SBI), came to Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University in 1945 as a secretary after graduating from Bishop College in Marshall, Texas. She joined the FAMU faculty in 1963, after earning an MBA degree from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania in 1961 and a doctorate degree in accounting from the University of Illinois in 1963. Mobley quickly rose through the ranks, from assistant professor to associate professor, then full professor, and from department chair to founding Dean (1974-2003). She transformed FAMU’s business department into a full-fledged school that garnered national acclaim for its unorthodox approach and excellence, attracting Fortune 500 companies and international brands. Mobley did things her way, creating a five-year MBA program for high achieving high school graduates who bypassed many introductory college course by acing college entrance exams and opting for an accelerated, (then) one-of-a-kind graduate degree. “Her biggest achievement is that she in fact has created a program that is bigger than herself,” says Art Collins, a 1982 graduate of SBI, managing partner of theGROUP, and former University trustee. Mobley gave her students a worldwide outlook, requiring students to take internships overseas in addition to internships for credit with domestic companies. “What makes ours especially hot is that we don’t let them go without the language, the economy, the culture, the history…” Mobley once said about the program.

C. William “Bill” Jennings, October 2015 In 1969, Jennings earned a degree in mathematics from FAMU and later served in the U.S. Army, having been a member of the FAMU ROTC. During his stellar military service, Jennings worked his way up to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Jennings spent most of his 30-year professional career with the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority (Orlando International Airport) and most notably as its executive director for six years prior to his retirement. Jennings served as an inaugural member of the FAMU Board of Trustees. His service included four years as chairman of the Board. He received an honorary doctorate at FAMU’s Fall 2013 Commencement Ceremony in recognition of his body of work and commitment to the University. Jennings is recognized as being a significant driving force behind the establishment of the American Beach Museum in American Beach, Fla., which commemorates the life and work of the great businessman and entrepreneur, Abraham Lincoln Lewis. 46 // FLORIDA A&M UNIVERSITY // A&M MAGAZINE

Moise Joseph, September 2015

Denise C. Jones, March 2015

Rev. Bernyce H. Clausell, June 2015

Joseph graduated from Miami Norland Senior

Jones served as an administrative assistant to

Clausell earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree

High and received his higher education from

the registrar at FAMU for 15 years. Prior to that,

from FAMU and was heralded as one of the oldest

FAMU, obtaining both his bachelor’s and master’s

she was employed in the sales department of

living alumni. She was known as Tallahassee’s

degrees in biology from the University. Moise was

News Day, a daily newspaper in the metro New

“Black Mother Teresa.”

a published scientific author and served FAMU

York area and as a supervisor of classified ads for

as the director of the Science Lab and a first-

Gannett News.

year experience instructor. Joseph had hopes of

James A. Joyner, M.D., July 2015 Joyner earned a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy

pursuing a career as a physician’s assistant and

Florazelle S. Teele, April 2015

from FAMU and a degree from the Medical

would often take trips to Haiti with his mother to

Teele served as a University Housing employee

College of Georgia. He served as a devoted

visit his grandfather, a village doctor.

and “Dorm Mother” for McGuinn Hall prior to her

physician and chief of obstetrics at Flagler Hospital


in St. Augustine, Fla., where he was credited with

C.U. Smith, Ph.D., April 2015

having a role in the delivery of every child born at

Smith served FAMU for more than 40 years as a

Ben J. Fleming, Sr., April 2015

professor, chair of the sociology department, and

Fleming earned a bachelor’s degree from FAMU

director of graduate studies. He was also one of

in 1973. As a student he was a member of the

Virden Evans, Ph.D., July 2015

the first African-American professors at Florida

Marching “100” and participated in many featured

Evans served as professor emeritus of the

State University, where he taught courses and

performances including the 1969 Super Bowl III

FAMU College of Education. During his tenure

supervised doctoral students from 1966 to 1992.

“America Thanks” halftime show.

at the University he also served as chairman of

During his tenure he was a steadfast faculty

Flagler since 1986.

the Health and Physical Education Division, as

supporter of the FAMU student-led Tallahassee

Chhagan R. Dalsania, May 2015

Bus Boycott of 1956. He was also the first

Dalsania served in several capacities at FAMU

African-American chairman of the Leon County

during his career to include coordinator of the

Ivradell W. Haugabrook, August 2015

Democratic Party, and was instrumental in the

Central Heating Plant in the Division of Plant

Haugabrook earned a bachelor’s degree from

planning and coordination phase of the FAMU Way

Operations and Maintenance.

FAMU and an MBA from Indiana University. She

Extension Project. He earned a bachelor’s degree

assistant dean, and interim dean.

served as a department chair and teacher for the

from Tuskegee Institute, a master’s degree from

Aaron Goodwin, May 2015

Fisk University, and a doctorate degree from

Goodwin was a graduate student in the School

Chicago Board of Education for 25 years.

Washington State University.

of Architecture and Engineering Technology at

David L. Daniels, August 2015

FAMU, where he also earned a bachelor’s degree

Daniels earned a bachelor’s degree from FAMU,

George Cooper, Ph.D., July 2015

in architecture in 2014. He received his master’s

where he served as captain of the football team

Cooper earned a bachelor’s degree in animal

degree posthumously from the University during

and co-captain of the basketball team.

husbandry from FAMU. He also earned a master’s

the 2015 summer commencement.

degree in animal science from Tuskegee University

Joyce C. Jones-Miller, August 2015

and a doctorate degree in animal nutrition from

Nellie Campbell, May 2015

Miller earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology

the University of Illinois – Urbana. Cooper most

Campbell served for many years as a custodian at

from FAMU and a master’s degree in social work

recently served as the Executive Director of

FAMU prior to her retirement.

from Clark Atlanta University. She retired from the

the White House Initiative on Historically Black

Agency of Health Care Administration in 2006,

Colleges and Universities. Prior to that, he served

Sarah Foster, Ph.D., June 2015

as the 10th president of South Carolina State

Foster served for many years as an anthropology

University. His professional career included 17

professor in the Department of Sociology and

Ruth Landers Morgan, August 2015

years at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s

Criminal Justice at FAMU.

Morgan was a 1937 graduate of the FAMC

National Institute of Food and Agriculture and faculty appointments at several universities.

after more than 35 years of dedicated service.

Beauty Culture Program. Morgan enjoyed giving Don Anderson, June 2015

her time and talent to the community, and

Anderson served as an assistant men’s basketball

attending Rattler football games.

Henry James, January 2015

coach at FAMU, prior to that he served as director

James served as an employee in the FAMU Plant

of Basketball Operations at Jacksonville University.

Thyra Echols-Starr, August 2015

Operations and Maintenance Division for more

During his career, he also served as head coach

Starr earned a bachelor’s degree in business

than 40 years.

at Gettysburg College, senior assistant head coach

teacher education from FAMU. She served

at Mount Saint Mary’s College, and in additional

professionally as a case manager with the

coaching capacities.

Department of Student Intervention Services for

Laverne P. Davis, February 2015 Davis was a retiree who served as a faculty

the Palm Beach County School District. She also

member in FAMU’s School of Nursing for more

Elliot Treadwell, Ph.D., June 2015

served as president of the Palm Beach Chapter of

than 39 years.

Treadwell served as a professor of physics

the National Alumni Association.

at FAMU. As a professor he co-invented and established a patent for a radioactivity detector.

A&M MAGAZINE // FALL 2015 // 47

Fall 2015 A&M Magazine  

The FAMU Office of Communications and External Relations is pleased to introduce to you the fall 2015 edition of the award-winning A&M Magaz...

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