On Wednesday, Florida A&M University Interim President Larry Robinson, Ph.D., presented the Florida Board of Governors (BOG) with plans to enhance student success, strengthen academic programs and improve University operations.
Robinson was among state university leaders presenting their 2017 Work Plans during the BOG’s June meeting. His presentation highlighted initiatives designed to improve student outcomes, including increasing retention and graduation rates. These efforts include enhancing the University’s student advisement system, restructuring recruitment and enrollment management, and expanding academic support services.
Dr. Robinson also pointed to FAMU’s recent success in acquiring external funding and leveraging partnerships to generate additional support to increase student success outcomes.
- In June, FAMU received a $2 million grant from the National Science Foundation to increase student success and degree production in STEM disciplines.
- The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration awarded FAMU a $15 million grant to establish the Center for Coastal and Marine Ecosystems, which will provide internships and other student support opportunities.
- FAMU signed a $5 million agreement with Lockheed Martin that will allow students and faculty to assist with the design of space systems used for NASA exploration.
Another student success initiative is the development of specialized 2+2 articulation agreements with members of the Florida College System. These agreements will allow FAMU to significantly increase enrollment of community college transfer students by providing seamless pathways to academic programs and on-time graduation. Articulation agreements have been established with Tallahassee Community College, St. Petersburg College and Valencia College. Several additional agreements with other institutions in the Florida College System are forthcoming.
The Board of Governors also released its performance-based funding scores for 2015-2016. FAMU maintained its score from the previous year, earning points in eight of the 10 performance metric categories. These areas included:
- An increase in the percent of bachelor’s degree graduates enrolled in graduate school or employed at $25,000 or more annually (from 61.8 percent to 64.6 percent)
- An increase in the median wages of bachelor’s degree graduates employed full time one year after graduation (from $32,000 to $32,700)
- A decrease in the average cost to the student earning a bachelor’s degree (from $13,830 to $12,640 annually)
- An increase in the six-year graduation rate for first-time-in-college (FTIC) students (from 38.6 percent to 40.7 percent)
- An increase in the percentage of graduate degrees awarded in programs of strategic emphasis (from 51.5 percent to 58.2 percent)
FAMU’s average cost for students earning a bachelor’s degree was among the most affordable in the state, placing the University at No. 3 among the 12 state universities.
“Although we have made some improvements, I am not satisfied with the University’s performance,” Robinson said. “We have developed an aggressive and focused plan for improving on all aspects of the state’s performance metrics. FAMU is committed to elevating our standing in future rankings.”
To help ensure FAMU accomplishes its goals, Robinson created the Division of Strategic Planning, Analysis and Institutional Effectiveness to provide more effective management and oversight of critical academic programs and business operations. In the spring, colleges and schools with professional programs developed improvement plans with action steps to increase pass rates on licensure exams.
The University’s new five-year strategic plan also focuses on implementing initiatives that will lead to improving FAMU’s outcome on the state’s performance metrics. Earlier this month, the FAMU Board of Trustees approved the plan, which will be presented to the BOG for review and approval later this year.
“We were successful yesterday in getting the FAMU Work Plan approved by the BOG,” said FAMU Board of Trustees (BOT) Chair Kelvin Lawson. “The BOG leadership provided a fair challenge on the metrics that need to improve. We will continue to work with the BOG and our own BOT to provide the right level of focus, resources and support to achieve the needed metric growth.”
Lawson added, “The University has laid the foundation for increasing our performance in key strategic areas. Our board and the administration are aligned on the strategic plan and the 2017 Work Plan. We now have to move to the proper execution of these initiatives. We are well aware of the areas that need improvement and are 100 percent committed to making the needed progress.”
While FAMU will not receive funding from the state’s performance funding allocations, based on this year’s scores, the University will continue to take proactive steps to engage stakeholders, the BOG, legislators and public and private partners to secure funding and resources to improve student success and recruit and retain the best and brightest students. The administration will leverage funding from these sources to absorb the non-recurring performance funds that previously supported University initiatives.
“I’d like to acknowledge the support of our Board of Trustees, administrative team, staff, faculty and students, who remain committed to an improved outcome in the future,” Robinson said. “We appreciate the comments provided by the Board of Governors members, and we look forward to their continued support of FAMU’s efforts.”