For the past 31 years, Florida State University (FSU) and Florida A & M University (FAMU) shared an engineering program funded by the state and housed on the FSU campus. On April 1st, the idea to have separate programs was introduced by Florida Senator John Thrasher with a proposal to amend the state budget to accommodate the expense of building a standalone program for FSU. FAMU representatives, claim to have been blind sighted with this move, as they were not aware any such action had been taken prior to the amendment reaching the Legislature and have been adamantly opposed to the proposed change to the engineering program.
Only 2 days later, on April 3rd, the Florida Senate announced a vote of 38-2 in favor of ending the FAMU -FSU engineering program with a $3 million addition to the FSU’s existing $10 million dollar budget for the purpose of building a new and separate engineering building. Needless to say, FAMU representatives are displeased and stunned by the outcome. Some FAMU supporters fear that the clock is being turned back to the days of Jim Crowe, when African American schools received less funding than white schools. After receiving the news of the approved amendment, Senator Arthenia Joyner, FAMU alumni, expressed the following sentiments also felt by other shocked FAMU supporters,
“The issue is larger than just starting up another program. For Joyner, who was among the last graduates of FAMU’s law school before it disbanded, the current engineering proposal recalls when the Legislature stripped FAMU of its law school by de-funding it in 1965. The program closed in 1968.
‘The FSU College of law opened in 1966,’ Joyner recounted during an emotional speech on the amendment Thursday. ‘This is different for me because it takes me back to a time when, I sat in study… and the books were removed and taken to Florida State. I sat there when the lights were dimmed and the door closed, because someone envisioned it would be best at Florida State.’”( http://news.wfsu.org)
FSU interim President Garnett Stokes endorsed the proposal with a letter that was sent to FSU supporters stating, “having our own college (of engineering) will be instrumental in achieving our goal of being a Top 25 public research university.” Additionally, Senator John Thrasher, who is vying to be president of FSU next year, argues the decision to have two separate programs will be good for both schools. He also claims several conversations were had with FAMU officials about the idea to have separate engineering programs prior to the submission of the proposal. Former interim FAMU president Larry Robinson, who transferred his responsibilities to the new president only days before Thrasher’s sneaky move, asserts that no such conversation was had with FAMU.
On Monday, April 7th, the FAMU Student Government Leadership called a press conference express their concerns about the split (Video Below).
While things look dismal for FAMU, the split is not written in stone yet. The House Senate talks start next week and a final decision is expected to be made on May 2nd.