State university system officials agreed last
month to a special designation for Florida A&M University aimed at
resolving a racially tinged controversy over dividing the state’s 10
public universities into three classifications.
The compromise came on the eve of the board of regents’ scheduled
vote on a five-year strategic plan that includes categorizing the
universities on the basis of their research and teaching missions.
FAMU officials, students, and alumni, as well as Black lawmakers
and state journalists, had objected to the classification plan as
discriminatory and a slap at the system’s only historically Black
campus. FAMU would join three other smaller schools in the
Comprehensive group where the focus would be undergraduate teaching.
(See Black Issues, Nov. 26)
The compromise would keep FAMU in that category, but the university
also would be the only member of a new Comprehensive/Doctoral subgroup.
The state’s six larger universities would be classified Research I or
Research II, with greater emphasis on graduate programs and research.
“The designation signals the continued development of FAMU as an
institution with a significant focus in the disciplines that will
constitute its future Ph.D. offerings,” FAMU’s president, Dr. Frederick
Humphries, said in a news release. “It assures a bright future for the
The chancellor of the state system, Dr. Adam Herbert, regents chairman Dennis Ross, and Humphries agreed to the compromise.
“By creating another designation, it accurately portrays FAMU’s
standing in the higher education community,” Ross said. “And it gives
the other comprehensive universities another target in their
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