FAMU President Robinson Calls On Alumni To Work Together, To Tell Our Story

May 31, 2024
Florida A&M University Larry Robinson, Ph.D.,  rallied  alumni gathered in Tampa for their annual convention, calling on them to work together to ensure the University’s forward progress.
FAMU President Robinson Calls On Alumni To Work Together, To Tell Our Story

Tampa, Fla,: – Florida A&M University Larry Robinson, Ph.D.,  rallied  alumni gathered in Tampa for their annual convention, calling on them to work together to ensure the University’s forward progress.

“To lead FAMU is a humbling and inspiring experience,” he said during a speech in a ballroom at the Tampa Grand Hyatt. “At the beginning and ending of every day, we all want what’s best for Florida A&M University,” he said.

“FAMU is not just a logo or athletic jersey. FAMU is you. How you share your love for FAMU impacts the perception of our others in your professional lives, your families and in the minds of those who seek to come to this great institution. The world should see us working together to make this institution better,” Robinson said. “We will have moments, every now and then, when there’s something we don’t agree on, but while we disagree, we don’t have to be disagreeable,” Robinson cautioned to applause.  “The world is watching. The world is watching us. They don’t know our story. They can’t be allowed to tell our story. You know the story. It’s in your individual struggle and in your individual successes. It is your story  and you better tell somebody. Don’t let others tell the wonderful stories about what this institution has to offer.”

He also thanked the National Alumni Association; whose membership is now about 4,500 on the way to President Curtis Johnson’s goal of 10,000.

“You bring to us our most valuable assets – students. You help recruit the best and brightest, but also provide support for keeping them there once they come,” said Robinson, who spoke about the 22,000 freshman applications.

Robinson also highlighted the University’s success and challenges.  He noted the more than 1,200 students who graduated  this spring. He also recognized the story of Delante Clark, who had eight fully-funded offers for graduate school. “Only two other schools send more African Americans to graduate school,” Robinson said.

Robinson praised the faculty for having an amazing year in terms of garnering research funds, “They broke the $100 million mark this year and we still have until June 30 to get there,”  Robinson said. The University graduated more than 40 students with doctorates and is on its way to matriculating 70 to qualify for R1 Carnegie status.

In fundraising, he praised the work of the University Advancement team that raised more  than $22 million thus far. Robinson also recognized the key affinity groups, such as the Rattler Boosters, 220 Quarterback Club,  and Rattler “F” Club, who raise money for students and student-athletes.

“All of these groups are functioning very well. The accolades  we receive is because of that,” he said to more applause.

Robinson also cited the work of the Industry Cluster that works with the School of Business and Industry to train and recruit students and FAMU graduates for high paying jobs. He also fondly recalled the unveiling of the Julian “Cannonball” and Nat Adderley Music Institute in honor of the two alumni musical giants, and the renaming of Wahnish Way to Althea Gibson Way, to celebrate the accomplishments of the FAMU alumna and pioneering  tennis championship.

Robinson recalled the recent damage caused by tornadoes that moved through Tallahassee and the FAMU campus, knocking out power, damaging roofs, downing trees, utility lines and poles, and blocking roads. The devastation, repairs and recovery prompted the administration to close the campus to all, but essential employees. Students took classes remotely and staff worked remotely for a week.

“I never seen this much damage to our campus or to the surrounding community. Arriving on campus that morning, what I saw was devastating. It looked like a bomb had been set off on our campus in terms of downed trees,” said Robinson, who praised the team that led the response and recovery efforts. “It staggered us, but we are still standing.”

The storm was a metaphor for some of the challenges facing the 136-year-old  institution, he said.

 “We always say, you can get anywhere from FAMU. But we didn’t mean that it was going to be easy. We didn’t suggest that there weren’t going to be some storms, literally and otherwise. Some of these are slow and predictable, like a hurricane you can see coming for days; and some will hit in the middle of the night, unsuspectingly like what we just saw on May 10th,” Robinson intoned to accompanying organ music in the background. “But when they come, when they come, but when they come,” he said with a long pause, “We do what Rattlers always do. We pull together; we work together,” Robinson continued as he segued into the iconic Rattler Strike marking the end of his speech. The alumni stood, did the Rattler Strike then applauded.