FAMU EVP/COO Donald Palm Lauds MLK’s Legacy and FAMU’s Historic Mission

January 17, 2024
Donald Palm Speaks at Convocation
Donald Palm Speaks at Convocation

Florida A&M University (FAMU) Executive Vice Price/Chief Operating Officer Donald E. Palm, III, Ph.D., hailed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy and inspiration for FAMU’s continued mission of transformation.

“Let us celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. not just as a historical figure but as a symbol of hope, a guiding light in our ongoing journey towards a more perfect union,” said Palm during his 2024 Martin Luther King Jr. Day Convocation speech on January 12 at the Al Lawson Multipurpose Center. “May his legacy inspire us to be agents of positive change, stand against injustice, and foster a society where the dream of equality and brotherhood becomes a reality for all.”

Palm lauded the University’s historical mission and commitment to stay the course.

“Throughout the years, Florida A&M University has supported and encouraged a community that’s a beacon of opportunity and inclusion for all students, faculty, and staff regardless of race or place of national origin. That inclusivity dwells comfortably on our campuses where we also believe in academic freedom, civil discourse, free speech, and the open exchange of ideas,” Palm said. “Our commitment remains strong, training students not only for careers but to make a difference in the communities where they live and work. The motto, ‘Excellence with Caring’ encapsulates the dual nature of our mission.”

As EVP/COO, Palm is the University’s second highest ranked administrator. He is charged with the guiding strategy for vice presidents and other senior administrators to improve outcomes on key performance indicators and achieve operational excellence throughout the University. A Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, native, Palm completed a doctorate in pharmacology at Penn State University. He conducted postdoctoral research in the Department of Neurosurgery and Neuroscience at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. Palm first came to FAMU as a faculty member in the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Institute of Public Health before rising to become associate provost for Undergraduate Studies. In 2016, Palm left for Virginia State University, where he served as vice president/provost before returning to FAMU in August 2023.


A’Zhariyha Vaughan sings at the FAMU 2024 MLK Jr. Convocation ceremony

A’Zhariyha Vaughan sings at the FAMU 2024 MLK Jr. Convocation ceremony.


Since his return, Palm has seen the FAMU climb to No. 91 among the U.S. News & World Report Top National Public Universities, No. 3 among all Historical Black Universities and Colleges (HBCUs) public and private and remain the highest ranked public HBCU for the five consecutive year. That success is no excuse for complacency, however.

“There is still work to be done and FAMU is poised and committed to answer Dr. King’s call on this front of injustice in health care,” Palm added. “Our Strategic Plan “Boldly Striking” lays out a road map for FAMU to emerge as a world class leader in healthcare education, research and service to address disparities, emergent needs, and advance holistic well-being. “FAMU HEALTH” will be a leader in providing culturally competent health care to the community, state and nation,” Palm said. “Like Dr. King, we must be adaptable in our approach to the evolving circumstances and adjust to new occurrences as they arise. This adaptability is needed to demonstrate flexibility and pragmatism in pursuing the ultimate goal and to sustain success.”

During his 15-minute address, Palm made a call for service leadership and selfless advocacy.

“Make a career of humanity. Commit yourself to the noble struggle for equal rights. You will make yourself a better person, a greater nation of your country, and a finer world to live in,” said Palm, who received the President’s Award. Student Government Association (SGA) President Londe Mondelus received the President’s Student Leadership Award.

President Robinson presents EVP/COO Donald Palm with the President’s Award at 2024 MLK Convocation. (Credit: Glenn Beil)

President Robinson presents EVP/COO Donald Palm with the President’s Award at 2024 MLK Convocation.(Credit: Glenn Beil)


“When it comes to preparing the leaders of tomorrow to take their rightful place, Dr. King would say, “Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality,” Palm said in closing.

“And when it comes to creating change, Dr. King would say, “A true leader is not a searcher for consensus, but a molder of consensus.’ If you can’t fly, then run; if you can’t run, then walk; if you can’t walk, then crawl, but whatever you do, you must keep moving forward.”