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FAMU's Revised Work Plan Gets Approval But Concerns About Low Grad Rates Remain

Florida’s public university governing board has approved a work plan for Florida A&M University but some board members are concerned the goals are still too low. At least one member is openly questioned whether FAMU’s goal to serve low-income students is obsolete.


FAMU’s graduation rate is the lowest among the state’s 12 public universities, excluding Florida Polytechnic, which is still too new to have grads. But FAMU President Elmira Mangum says it’s an historic issue, borne out of FAMU’s mission to serve low-income and minority students.

Since 1990, we've never  exceeded 48 percent [graduation]. And we were funded during that period at full funding before the market crashed…so we recognize that we’ve been funded to address a special mission for the state," Mangum said.

But  board member Norman Trip believes FAMU's mission is changing, and the school needs to be more selective in who it admits.

“Times have changed," Tripp said. "You’ve got to go out and find those students who can perform at the level you need so you can be funded.”

FAMU’s has set a 39 percent graduation goal for the next two years, but it increased to 75 percent by 2021. Provost Marcella David says the 39 percent it’s the best the school can do for now.

“I understand when you were talking in May, ‘these are not stretch goals’ and I was praying we would get to these numbers," she said, further explaining FAMU is working to get students who were admitted but didn't meet school requirements--to graduate.

David says FAMU is working on attracting stronger students, and points to higher GPA’s and SAT scores in this year’s freshman class as proof the school’s new recruitment standards are working.

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Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas.  She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. 

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