Interim Florida A&M University President Larry Robinson wants to boost enrollment and rebuild relationships among FAMU stakeholders, and the media. Lynn Hatter spoke with Robinson on what he wants to accomplish during his time leading FAMU.
On Changing the Narrative
It’s Robinson’s third time at the helm of Florida A&M with the title of “Interim President”. And he’s been doing some relationship re-building since he took over from former President Elmira Mangum who was forced to step down last year.
“Bringing together the Rattler Nation is something I want to focus on as well," says Robinson, "And then, through opportunities like this, I want to make sure everyone understands that through our interface with the media, we’re alive and well and we are going to continue to have these types of discussions to make sure the FAMU story is told.”
Some of the good news for FAMU includes a newly trademarked program, FAMU DRS earning a B on the state’s latest report card, and new students with higher GPA’s. The university is working to boost its enrollment and alumni and trustees are opening the doors of their homes to potential recruits to aid the effort. But Robinson is not just looking at the number of students—but whether they’re academically and socially prepared for higher ed. And that means starting earlier with harder courses.
Advice To College Bound Students
“If they have AP [Advanced Placement courses], take it. If they have IB [International Baccalaureate classes] look at the possibility. Look at dual enrollment. All of these are opportunities. Do not take the easy route. Challenge them, get them acclimated to the rigor and the time management that’s going to be necessary. Because as you’ve heard many times, coming to college is not the 13th grade.”
Robinson says once students are enrolled at FAMU, the next challenge is keeping them there. The university serves a largely minority, first-time in college and low to middle-income group, where students are balancing jobs and school. And money, especially financial aid, is a big factor, but much of that aid comes with strings attached. It’s merit based.
“You’re not going to continue to get a Pell Grant solely based on need. That gets you in the door. But to keep and maintain that eligibility, we have to ensure these students are progressing satisfactorily. There are no free rides. There’s a merit base and performance based expectation for even for what so many depend upon at this university to make them financially whole in order to pay for their college experience.”
While Pell Grants are provided through the federal government, state based programs are also available. And Florida lawmakers are looking into the possibility of expanding need-based state aid to more students.
Hear more of the conversation with FAMU President Larry Robinson later this week.