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Dear Rattler Advocates,

As you may be aware, the Florida Senate adopted its version of the 2014-15 state budget recently that included a last minute amendment that would begin to fund a new College of Engineering in Tallahassee at Florida State University.  The creation of a new engineering college would begin the process of separating the 32-year partnership FAMU has had with FSU in the joint College of Engineering.

FAMU opposes the Senate’s budget and the plan to decouple the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering. Neither university has had an opportunity to examine the potential impact of such a move or discuss the terms under which a separation would/should take place.

Fortunately, the budget passed by the Florida House of Representatives DOES NOT fund a new engineering college at FSU.

This week, right now, the House and Senate are negotiating the differences between their two budgets.  Whether or not to separate the joint engineering college is one of those issues that will be decided.

With only eight (8) days remaining in the session, and final budget negotiations scheduled to be completed by this Saturday, please take a moment right now to contact your local legislators and tell them to “leave the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering alone”.  Tell them you oppose a separation of this unique educational partnership that is the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering.

In addition to your local State Representative and State Senator, please contact:

  • Senator Don Gatez (Destin)
    Senate President
    850-487-5001 (Capitol)
    850-897-5747 (District)
    email: gatez.don@flsenate.gov
  • Senator Joe Negron (Palm City)
    Senate Appropriations Chair
    850-487-5032 (Capitol)
    772-219-1665 (District)
    email: Negron.joe@flsenate.gov
  • Rep. Seth McKeel (Lakeland)
    Chair, House Appropriations Committee
    850-717-5040 (Capitol)
    863-647-4896 (District)
    email: seth.mckeel@myfloridahouse.gov
  • Sen. Andy Gardiner (Orlando)
    Senate President-designate
    850-487-5013 (Capitol)
    407-428-5800 (District)
    email: gardner.andy@flsenate.gov

We appreciate your support!

 

Sincerely,

Tommy Mitchell, Sr.

FAMU NAA President

Joint Statement From Former FAMU Presidents

 As former leaders of Florida A&M University, we oppose the move to decouple the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering and consider this a sudden and unplanned act, void of discussion and input from the current leadership of the two universities, the university Boards of Trustees and the Florida Board of Governors. This action sends the wrong message to the citizens of Florida, and other interested parties, about how the Legislature and academic institutions should interact.

The FAMU-FSU College of Engineering is a strong program that represents a successful collaboration for the State of Florida between two research institutions with elements of their student populations woefully underrepresented in engineering disciplines. Through this long-term collaborative effort, the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering has received high praise for addressing this nationwide dilemma.

A second program in Tallahassee would compromise the integrity of what is already a very successful venture. Furthermore, one can only look to our sister university, Florida Polytechnic University, to see how expensive it is to support a stand-alone engineering program in today’s economy.  In fact, a major focus of the Florida Board of Governors over the past few years has been a concerted effort to reduce duplication of academic programs throughout the State University System.

Proposing such a drastic change without any obvious consideration or discussion of the above factors is surprising and not in the best interest of our State University System or the citizens of Florida. As an alternative, we request that the Legislature provide additional support to our existing program, which has produced successful graduates for both Florida A&M University and Florida State University since 1982.

With all due respect to the power and authority of the Legislature to appropriate funding, we respectfully request engagement in a collaborative process to include both academic institutions and our governing bodies to determine how such funding will be used to build on our past successes. We are pleased to work transparently within appropriate guidelines and authorities to create life-changing opportunities for students in Florida to pursue a quality education in engineering through the joint engineering program.

Sincerely,

Walter Smith, Ph.D. (President 1977-1985)
Frederick Humphries, Ph.D. (President 1985-2001)
Fred Gainous, Ph.D. (President 2002-2004)
James Ammons, Ph.D. (President 2007-2012)
Larry Robinson, Ph.D. (Interim President 2012-2014)

The Florida A&M University National Alumni Association (FAMU NAA) opposes the Florida State Senate’s surprise move to separate an engineering program shared by Florida State University (FSU) and Florida A&M University (FAMU). Under a plan supported by Florida State Senators Joe Negron and John Thrasher, FSU would receive $13 million to begin creating a new College of Engineering in Tallahassee.

“This move doesn’t make sense,” said FAMU NAA President Tommy Mitchell, Sr.

Last month, the FAMU NAA made it a priority to ask legislators to appropriate $15 million for the joint FAMU-FSU College of Engineering during “FAMU’s Day at the Capitol.”

“This move to split the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering could cripple the nation’s number one producer of African-Americans earning Ph.D.s in engineering,” said Mitchell.

Any alumni with questions or comments about these legislative actions should call these phone numbers and legislators’ offices.

  • Florida Board of Governors, 850-245-0466
  • President of the Florida Senate, Don Gaetz 850-487-5229
  • Florida House Speaker, Will Weatherford 850-717-5000

FAMU NAA’s leaders pointed out Florida lawmakers have limited the duplication of services by state universities, and even took measures this year to limit new baccalaureate programs at state/community colleges. If approved, new degree requests by the colleges would have to be approved by the legislature.

“Is this truly Florida at its best?” asked Carolyn Collins, FAMU NAA Governmental Affairs Chairwoman. “Are we saying one thing and doing something else?”

“Joint budget committees in the Florida House and Senate are scheduled to begin discussing this matter soon, and we want FAMU alumni to pack those meetings,” said Mitchell.  “We will let you know as soon as the meeting is set.”

The Florida legislature created the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering in 1983 as part of a desegregation consent decree enforced by the Office of Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Education. Now, FAMU alumni and past presidents say this move violates the consent decree, and FAMU’s engineering students could lose access to sophisticated technology and research programs at FSU properties.

The Florida State Senate agreed to spend $13 million in state funding to help Florida State University begin creating its own engineering school separate from Florida A&M University largely based on the testimony of Sen. John Thrasher.   Read more here.   State Sen. Joe Negron says the plan will allow the universities’ “good” joint College of Engineering to morph into “great” individual programs. FAMU would keep the existing building on a remote part of FSU’s campus and current state funding; FSU would get $13 million to begin the multi-year process of creating a new program in a new building.  Read more here.

Here is the FAMU Board Of Trustees Chair Solomon Badger’s Statement Regarding the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering:

We are aware of an amendment filed on Tuesday evening by Senator John Thrasher that would create a second college of engineering in Tallahassee at Florida State University. The FAMU Board of Trustees opposes this move and considers this an unplanned act, which has been void of discussion and input from the current leadership of the two universities, the university Boards of Trustees and the Florida Board of Governors. This action sends the wrong message to the citizens of Florida and other interested parties about how the legislature and academic institutions should interact.

This nation cannot afford to revisit separate, but unequal policies when the collaboration of our two institutions through the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering represents a successful venture for the State of Florida between two research institutions. This long-term collaborative program has received high praise for addressing the underrepresented student populations in engineering disciplines. It is a model program that is an example of the best our higher education entities can produce through partnership.

The Florida Board of Governors has made a concerted effort to reduce duplication of academic programs throughout the State University System. A second engineering school in Tallahassee with competing programs would compromise the integrity of what is an established, successful venture.

Proposing such an abrupt change without any discussion of the aforementioned factors with all parties involved is alarming and not in the best interest of our State University System or the citizens of Florida. As an alternative, we request that the legislature provide additional support to the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering, which has produced successful graduates for both Florida A&M University and Florida State University since 1982.

This proposal must first pass the Florida House. If you would like to communicate with a Florida State house representatives, you can find the link to the Florida House of Representatives here.