The Florida A&M University (FAMU) Board of Trustees has authorized President Larry Robinson, Ph.D., to forge ahead with completing the long-awaited Center for Access and Student Success (CASS) building on campus.
During a recent conference call meeting, trustees authorized Robinson to amend the contract to facilitate completion of the building using the $24.8 million allocated by the Florida Legislature.
Board of Trustees Chairman Kelvin Lawson lauded the efforts of Robinson, staff, alumni, trustees and students who touted the CASS building as the University’s top legislative priority. He said the new facility is essential to accomplishing the University’s strategic plan.
“Student success is a key measure. What better way of ensuring student success than constructing a building that includes everything, from tutoring and counseling, to the health clinic, all the services they need under one roof in a state-of-the-art facility,” Lawson said. “If I were a parent listening to FAMU talk about its commitment to students, this is the kind of evidence I would want to see.”
A vertical structure is under construction, and the roof will soon be installed. With the new funds allocated by the Legislature in the 2019-2020 state budget, construction can proceed to complete the interior build-out and exterior site work in anticipation of a fall 2020 opening. Prior to the latest allocation, the University had received about $16.1 million to complete the building.
The CASS building on Wahnish Way is the centerpiece of the University’s FAMU Rising Strategic Plan, which prioritizes exceptional student experience and student success. It will be home to Student Financial Services, the Cashier’s Office, the Registrar and the Undergraduate Student Success Center, Undergraduate Admissions, Financial Aid, Enrollment and New Student Orientation.
It will put under one roof departments that are now spread across the campus, such as the Office of the Vice President of Student Affairs, Career Center, Health Center and Counseling Services. Some of these offices are now housed in the Foote-Hilyer Administration Center on the east side of the campus.
“I am excited for our students, staff and the University as we are trying to promote and improve our services. Having facilities and implementing best practices used at our sister institutions enables us to move forward with increasing retention of students, graduation and employment,” said William E. Hudson, Jr., Ph.D., vice president for Student Affairs. Hudson said approximately 300 to 350 employees from eight units, including Housing, will be moved to the new building.
Hudson said freshmen advisers will be housed in the CASS building to help freshmen make the transition from high school to college and be retained. There will be 35 academic advisers with the plan to hire 20 more advisers and academic coaches, Hudson said.