Saturday, April 30, 2016

Fla. agriculture commissioner and U.S. education secretary to address FAMU graduates

On April 30, 2016, more than 1,200 students will become alumni of Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) and enter into the next chapter of their lives as global citizens ready to put the knowledge they have gained into action.

Students will receive degrees ranging from agribusiness and computer science to nursing and educational leadership.

Addressing the students, who will eagerly receive their diplomas as they prepare to make their marks on the world, are U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King, Jr., J.D., Ed.D., who was appointed by President Barack Obama in 2015, and former U.S. Representative and Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam.

The ceremonies will be held at the Alfred Lawson Jr. Multipurpose Center and Teaching Gymnasium, located at 1800 Wahnish Way in Tallahassee. King will deliver the commencement address at 9 a.m. and Putnam will deliver the address at 2 p.m.

Putnam has played an instrumental role in supporting and promoting FAMU’s agricultural and research priorities, including the historic Brooksville land transfer from the U.S. Department of Agriculture – the largest in history to a historically Black college or university.

During FAMU’s recent College of Agriculture and Food Sciences Research Forum, Putnam, who served as a panelist, gave special recognition to the University, applauding FAMU for its successful strides in agriculture and extension outreach services as a land-grant institution.

“Our land-grant institutions are not only helping us on the farmers’ side, but also on the outreach side, so people know how to make healthier choices and how to stretch their household budget,” Putnam said. “We can’t do it without the extension services making it possible. A future that needs to feed 10 billion people worldwide means land-grant institutions are more important than ever.”

King is a trailblazer in the education landscape. He previously oversaw the Department of Education’s cross-agency collaboration for Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper task force, which seeks to address persistent opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color. He was the first African American and Puerto Rican to serve as New York State’s education commissioner.

King is also a strong advocate for the important role historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) play in the U.S. education system.

“HBCUs have significantly contributed to the number of graduates in our nation in critical areas,” King said in a recent speech during Black History Month. “HBCUs make up just three percent of colleges and universities, but produce 27 percent of African Americans with bachelors’ degrees in STEM fields.”

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