Sunday, August 13, 2017

FAMU seeking more support to boost STEM education, graduation rate

As students head back to campus for the fall semester, Florida A&M University (FAMU) officials and stakeholders are working to ensure they have the resources needed for a successful college experience.

This summer, FAMU’s Board of Trustees (BOT) approved the University’s 2018-2019 Legislative Budget Requests (LBRs), which will be submitted to the Florida Board of Governors and the Florida Legislature in the coming months. The total amount requested is $24.1 million and includes $15.3 million to support the University’s efforts to help students excel in their studies, graduate on time and secure employment in their fields of study.

“This year’s Legislative Budget Requests (LBRs) were developed after careful consideration of the additional resources needed to implement our strategic plan, in particular investments needed to raise the University’s performance on key student success metrics,” said Interim President Larry Robinson. “We look forward to engaging all of our stakeholders in a concerted effort over the next several months and thank them for their continued support of FAMU.”

University leaders, trustees, students, faculty, staff, alumni and other supporters contributed to the development of the LBRs, after working together to lobby legislators during the 2017-2018 legislative session. The new 2018-2019 in-depth plan requests additional funds to improve student success in the following areas: Academic Support Services to Increase Retention and Graduation Rates ($1,750,000), Academic Programs ($10,060,000), Online Course Offerings ($2,955,000).

“The FAMU community worked collaboratively and developed a strategic document, which is a roadmap to increasing student success,” said FAMU Director of Governmental Relations Barbara Cohen-Pippin. “Dr. Robinson and the board not only adopted this document, they were integrally involved in its development. Now, I look forward to this great community of students, faculty, staff, alumni, supporters, trustees and University leaders meeting with legislators in their respective districts to garner their support as legislative champions of FAMU’s student success initiatives.”

According to Cohen-Pippin, more than 50 percent of FAMU’s students major in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), helping to create a pipeline to fulfill the state’s critical workforce needs.

The University is seeking funds to hire intrusive advisors and academic coaches, peer mentors and tutors in STEM related areas and accomplished faculty, specifically in professional programs that have licensure pass rate requirements. This will help accelerate FAMU’s efforts in supplying high-demand workforce areas with STEM graduates by increasing graduation rates.

In order to enhance academic programs, the LBRs include $7.5 million for technology upgrades to classrooms and labs, funds to hire support staff, as well as $1.2 million for upgrades to the Brooksville Agricultural and Environmental Research Station near Tampa.

To bolster its legislative funding requests and graduation and retention rates, the University is also preparing to work with alumni and supporters via several upcoming fundraising initiatives to fund need-based scholarships. About 65 percent of FAMU’s undergraduates receive Pell Grants compared to a State University System average of 39 percent. These students often experience financial challenges that impede their journey to graduating within four years.

The University’s focus on expanding online course offerings will also help to accommodate students who must work full-time to fund their education.

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