Florida A&M University

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Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University
Florida A&M University seal.svg
Former names
Florida Agricultural and Mechanical College for Negroes (1909–1953)
State Normal and Industrial College for Colored Students (1891–1909)
State Normal College for Colored Students (1887–1891)
MottoExcellence With Caring
Type Public historically black land-grant university
EstablishedOctober 3, 1887;135 years ago (1887-10-03)
Parent institution
State University System of Florida
Academic affiliations
Urban 13
Endowment $95.6 million (2020) [1]
Budget$375 million (2020) [2]
President Larry Robinson
Academic staff
687 (561 full-time) [3]
Students9,179 (fall 2020) [3]
Location, ,
United States

30°25′04″N84°17′04″W / 30.4178°N 84.2845°W / 30.4178; -84.2845 Coordinates: 30°25′04″N84°17′04″W / 30.4178°N 84.2845°W / 30.4178; -84.2845
CampusUrban, 422 acres (1.7 km2) [4]
NewspaperThe FAMUAN [5]
Colors    Orange and green
Nickname Rattlers and Lady Rattlers
Sporting affiliations
MascotVenom the Rattlesnake
Website www.famu.edu
Florida A&M University logo.svg

Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU), commonly known as Florida A&M, is a public historically black land-grant university in Tallahassee, Florida. Founded in 1887, It is the third largest historically black university in the United States by enrollment and the only public historically black university in Florida. [6] It is a member institution of the State University System of Florida, as well as one of the state's land grant universities, and is accredited to award baccalaureate, master's and doctoral degrees by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.


FAMU sports teams are known as the Rattlers, and compete in Division I of the NCAA. They are a member of the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC).


Black abolitionist Jonathan C. Gibbs first introduced legislation to create the State Normal College for Colored Students in 1885, one year after being elected to the Florida Legislature. The date also reflects the new Florida Constitution of 1885, which prohibited racial integration in schools. The college was located in Tallahassee because Leon County and adjacent counties led the state in African-American population, reflecting Tallahassee's former status as the center of Florida's slave trade. (See Tallahassee's black history.) The site of the university is the 375-acre slave plantation [7] :94 of Florida governor William Pope Duval, whose mansion, today the site of the Carnegie Library, burned in 1905.

Carnegie Library c. 1930. Carnegie Library at Florida A&M University Tallahassee, Florida.jpg
Carnegie Library c. 1930.

On October 3, 1887, the State Normal College for Colored Students began classes, and became a land-grant college four years later when it received $7,500 under the Second Morrill Act, and its name was changed to State Normal and Industrial College for Colored Students. However, it was not an official institution of higher learning until the 1905 Buckman Act, which transferred control from the Department of Education to the Board of Control, creating what was the foundation for the modern Florida A&M University. This same act is responsible for the creation of the University of Florida and Florida State University from their previous institutions. In 1909, the name of the college was once again changed, to Florida Agricultural and Mechanical College for Negroes, and in 1953 the name was finally changed to Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University. Florida A&M is the only surviving publicly funded historically black college or university in the state of Florida. [8] (Twelve publicly-funded junior colleges serving primarily the African-American population of Florida existed for different periods between 1949 and 1966.)

In 1923, there was a student strike. [9]

Lee Hall c. 1930. N044015.jpg
Lee Hall c. 1930.

In 1951, the university started a pharmacy and nursing program. In order to give these students hands-on experience, the university built a hospital. Until 1971 Florida A&M Hospital was the only one within 150 miles (240 km) of Tallahassee to serve African Americans. [10] [11] It closed in 1971, after then-Tallahassee Memorial Hospital, under federal pressure, started serving African Americans.

On May 26, 1956, Wilhemina Jakes and Carrie Patterson, two Florida A&M University students, were arrested by the Tallahassee Police Department for "placing themselves in a position to incite a riot" which lead to the Tallahassee bus boycott which sought to end racial segregation in the employment and seating arrangements of city buses.

In 1963, FAMU students demonstrated against segregation in the city. [12]

In 1992, 1995, and 1997, FAMU successfully recruited more National Achievement Scholars than Harvard. FAMU tied with Harvard in 2000, recruiting 62 new National Achievement Scholars, although by 2006 that number had declined to one. [13] [14] [15] [16] The National Achievement Scholarship Corporation discontinued naming scholars in 2015. [17]

In the fall of 1997, FAMU was selected as the Time - Princeton Review "College of the Year" and was cited in 1999 by Black Issues in Higher Education for awarding more baccalaureate degrees to African-Americans than any institution in the nation. [18] [19]

In 2011 Robert Champion, a band member, was beaten to death in a hazing incident. Two faculty members resigned in connection with a hazing investigation and thirteen people were charged with felony or misdemeanor hazing crimes; [20] one student, a band member, was convicted of manslaughter and hazing charges and sentenced to six years in prison. [21] The scandal resulted in the resignation of FAMU's president and played a role in the university's regional accreditor, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, placing FAMU on probation for one year. [22] [23] [24]

In 2019, FAMU and other HBCUs developed a partnership with Adtalem Global Education and its for-profit Ross University School of Medicine in Barbados. [25]


  1. Thomas Desaille Tucker 1887–1901
  2. Nathan B. Young 1901–1923
  3. William A. Howard 1923–1924
  4. John Robert Edward Lee 1924–1944
  5. J.B. Bragg April 5, 1944 – September 1, 1944
  6. William H. Gray, Jr. 1944–1949
  7. H. Manning Efferson July 7, 1949 – April 1, 1950
  8. George W. Gore 1950–1968
  9. Benjamin L. Perry, Jr. 1968–1977
  10. Walter L. Smith 1977–1985
  11. Frederick S. Humphries 1985–2001
  12. Henry Lewis III January 2002 – June 2002
  13. Fred Gainous 2002–2004
  14. Castell V. Bryant January 2005 – May 2007
  15. James H. Ammons July 2, 2007 – July 16, 2012
  16. Elmira Mangum April 1, 2014 – September 15, 2016
  17. Larry Robinson November 30, 2017 – present (interim: May–July 2007, July 2012 – April 2014, September 2016 – November 2017)


The university offers 54 bachelor's degrees, 29 master's degrees, one professional degree, and 12 doctoral degrees. [26] It has 14 schools and colleges. [27] Florida A&M also has an honors program for high-achieving undergraduate students who meet the high performance criteria. [28] FAMU is a member school of the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund. [29]

In 2012, FAMU implemented the Medical Scholars Program (MSP) in partnership with the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine. MSP is a pre-medical program designed to prepare academically talented undergraduate students for success in medical school and beyond. There is a cap of 10 freshmen accepted into this competitive four-year program each year. [30]

FAMU has nine fully funded, endowed, eminent-scholars chairs, including two in the School of Journalism and Graphic Communications, four in the School of Business & Industry, one in the College of Education, one in Arts and Sciences, and one in its School of Pharmacy. [31]

Colleges and Schools

FAMU offers undergraduate and graduate degrees through the following colleges and schools:

  • College of Agriculture and Food Sciences
  • College of Education
  • FAMU - FSU College of Engineering
  • College of Law
  • College of Pharmacy and Pharmaucetical Sciences, Institute of Public Health
  • College of Social Scienes, Arts, and Humanities
  • College of Science and Technology
  • School of Allied Health Sciences
  • School of Architecture and Engineering Technology
  • School of Business and Industry
  • School of the Environment
  • School of Graduate Studies and Research
  • School of Journalism and Graphic Communication
  • School of Nursing


The fall 2020 incoming freshmen class had an average GPA of 3.44 and an average SAT score of 1082. [32]


Student body composition as of May 2, 2022
Race and ethnicity [33] Total
Black 89%89
Hispanic 5%5
White 3%3
Other [lower-alpha 1] 3%3
Economic diversity
Low-income [lower-alpha 2] 66%66
Affluent [lower-alpha 3] 34%34

Florida A&M University student enrollment population consists primarily of undergraduates. 83% of the school's enrolled students are African-American. The next largest demographic group is White (non-Hispanic) students at 7%, followed by Hispanic students at 6%. Multiracial, Asian, Native American, and international students round out the remaining 4%. [34]


Florida A&M University has been accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) since 1935. [22]

Graduation rate

In 2020, FAMU's four-year graduation rate was 21%, [35] while its six-year graduation rate was 55%. [36]


Academic rankings
U.S. News & World Report [37] 202 [35]

The 2022 edition of the U.S. News & World Report college rankings placed 202nd among national universities, 117th among public universities, seventh among HBCUs, and first among public HBCUs. FAMU was also named 61st in best Graduate Teaching and 20th in the Top Performers in Social Mobility category. [35]

It is classified among "R2: Doctoral Universities – High research activity". [38]

For 2017, the National Science Foundation ranked Florida A&M University 216th nationally and 2nd among HBCUs for total research and development expenditures. [39]


FAMU's annual research funding is $44.5 million. [40] The university has access to research funding from many Federal agencies. [41] FAMU's two largest research areas are agriculture and health sciences. The Pharmacy College's research funding is $20.2 million ($20.2 million in federal, $300k in state support, and from $300k in private industry support) with $29,281,352 committed. [42]


FAMU's main campus is in Tallahassee, Florida, just south of the State Capitol and the campus of Florida State University. It also has a law school campus in Orlando, Florida, and the Research and Development Center in Quincy, Florida. The College of Pharmacy has extension campuses in Miami, Jacksonville, Tampa and Crestview, Florida. [43]

Residential facilities

FAMU requires all first-year students to live on campus, if their families are over 35 miles (56 km) from the FAMU campus. Exceptions to this rule include married students, students with dependents, and students who are of age 21 by the start of classes. [44]

FAMU offers a limited number of rooms for students with dependent families. [44] Family households may occupy rooms in the Palmetto North Apartments. [45] Residents are zoned to Leon County Schools. [46] Residents are zoned to Bond Elementary School, [47] Nims Middle School, [48] and Leon High School. [49]

National historic district

Florida Agricultural and Mechanical College Historic District
Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University campus.jpg
FAMU campus, Lee Hall
USA Florida location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Usa edcp location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Location Tallahassee, Florida
Area370 acres (1.5 km2)
Architect William Augustus Edwards; Rudolph Weaver, et al.
Architectural style Colonial Revival, Classical Revival
NRHP reference No. 96000530 [50]
Added to NRHPMay 9, 1996

The Florida A&M Tallahassee Campus consists of 132 buildings spread across 420 acres (1.7 km2). Part of the campus is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places as the Florida Agricultural and Mechanical College Historic District. It received that designation on May 9, 1996. The district is centered along the section of Martin Luther King Boulevard that goes through the campus. According to the National Register, it covers 370 acres (1.5 km2), and contains 14 historic buildings and 1 object. One campus building, the old Carnegie Library, is listed separately on the National Register. [50] On April 18, 2012, the AIA's Florida Chapter placed Lee Hall at Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University (FAMU) on its list of Florida Architecture: 100 Years. 100 Places. [51]

Research centers and institutes

The Division of Research houses 17 different research centers and institutes: [52]


The Samuel H. Coleman Memorial Library is the university's main library, named for the man who served as the university's general alumni president for 14 years. After the university's main building containing administrative offices, cafeteria, and library were destroyed by fire, Andrew Carnegie donated a $10,000 gift for the construction of a new library facility. The construction of Coleman Library began during the post-World War II era. The new library was officially dedicated during FAMU's 1949 annual Founders Day celebration in honor of civil leader Samuel H. Coleman. [53] The library was built in 1948, renovated in 1972, expanded in 1990 and again in 2004. The 88,964 square feet (8,265.0 m2) facility includes study rooms, a student study lounge and cafe, graduate and faculty study carrels, teleconference rooms, and a state-of-the-art information literacy classroom. [54]

The libraries hold nearly 2 million volumes, over 155,000 e-books and e-journals, and 256,126 microforms. [54]

Carnegie Library

The library of what was then the State Normal and Industrial College for Colored Students was located in the grandest building on the campus, Duval Hall, the former mansion of Florida Governor William Pope Duval, which also held the university's administrative offices and cafeteria. It was destroyed by fire in 1905. Andrew Carnegie donated a $10,000 gift for the construction of a new library facility. In 1907, when the city of Tallahassee turned down philanthropist Andrew Carnegie's offer of a library building, because by his rules it would have had to serve black patrons, Carnegie funded instead the Carnegie Library at FAMU. It no longer serves as a library, but instead houses the Southeastern Regional Black Archives Research Center and Museum.


Florida A&M University is a member of the Southwestern Athletic Conference and participates in NCAA Division I-FCS. [55] FAMU's sports teams are called the Rattlers. FAMU offers men's sports in baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, tennis and track and field. It offers women's sports in basketball, bowling, cheerleading, cross country, softball, tennis, track and field and volleyball. [56]

From 1938 to 1961, the football team won the Black College National Championship eight times, including six times under head coach Jake Gaither, in 1950, 1952, 1954, 1957, 1959 and 1961. When Gaither retired after 25 years of coaching in 1969, his FAMU teams had a 203-36-4 (wins-losses-ties) record, for a .844 winning percentage. Thirty-six players from Gaither's teams were All-Americans, and 42 went on to play in the National Football League. During his 25 years as head coach, FAMU won 22 Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championships. Gaither was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1975. FAMU went on to win the first NCAA D1-AA National Championship in 1978 after defeating the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

The men's basketball team has qualified for the opening round game of the NCAA men's basketball tournament three times (1999, 2004 and 2007). The FAMU Wrestling Team placed third in their region and had several national placers in 2008 under Coach Sharif.

Student life

FAMU is one of the largest HBCUs in the nation with a student body of nearly 10,000 students hailing from all regions of the United States and several foreign countries. Individuals part of the FAMU community are affectionately referred to as "FAMUly" or members of "Rattler Nation". [57] [58] FAMU has over 100 student organizations on campus. [59]

Notable student organizations

Student Government Association

The Student Government Association (SGA) is the official voice of the student body and is divided into three branches: Executive, Judicial, and Legislative. [60]

FAMU Royal Court

Miss FAMU, Mister FAMU, and other students represent the university in its royal court. Miss FAMU, Mister FAMU, and female students known as "attendants", are elected by the student body; there is a Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, Senior, Graduate attendant and Queen of Orange and Green. The male "escorts" of the attendants are appointed by Mister FAMU through an application process. The only male escort that wears a crown besides Mister FAMU is the King of Orange and Green. The attendants and escorts are undergraduate students, except for one attendant and one escort who are graduate students. [61]

Gospel Choir

The FAMU Gospel Choir was established in 1957.

Reserve Officers Training Corps

FAMU is home to both Army ROTC and Naval ROTC units, permitting students to pursue careers as commissioned officers in the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, and U.S. Marine Corps, upon graduation. For those FAMU students desiring to become commissioned officers in the U.S. Air Force, a cross-campus arrangement permits their taking Air Force ROTC training with the AFROTC detachment at nearby Florida State University (FSU). Likewise, Florida State students desiring to become Navy and Marine Corps officers may also enroll with FAMU's NROTC unit under a similar arrangement.

Marching band

The FAMU Marching 100 The100.jpg
The FAMU Marching 100

The FAMU marching band, The Marching 100, received national recognition in January 1993 when it performed in the 42nd Presidential Inauguration Parade by invitation of Bill Clinton. The band has also performed in the Super Bowl and in the 44th Presidential Inauguration Parade for Barack Obama. In 2019, the marching band performed in the Rose Parade in Pasadena, California on New Year's Day.

Student media

  • The FAMUAN – The student newspaper [62]
  • Journey Magazine – The student magazine [63]
  • FAMU 20 TV – The FAMU TV news broadcast network [64]
  • WANM 90.5 FM – The university owned and operated radio station. [65]

Notable alumni

Notable faculty

See also


  1. Other consists of Multiracial Americans & those who prefer to not say.
  2. The percentage of students who received an income-based federal Pell grant intended for low-income students.
  3. The percentage of students who are a part of the American middle class at the bare minimum.

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