Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, commonly known as FAMU, is a public, historically black university in Tallahassee, Florida, United States. Florida A&M University was founded on the highest of seven hills in Tallahassee, Florida on October 3, 1887. It is one of the largest historically black universities in the United States by enrollment and the only public historically black university in Florida. It is a member institution of the State University System of Florida, as well as one of the state’s land grant universities, and is accredited to award baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral degrees by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The university is a member-school of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund.
The 2017 edition of the U.S. News & World Report college rankings placed the university #1 among public HBCUs and #7 among all HBCUs. In 2016, FAMU was promoted to the second degree R2: Doctoral University – Higher Research Activity in the Carnegie Classifications by the Indiana University Center for Postsecondary Research. In 2015, the National Science Foundation ranked Florida A&M University as the #1 HBCU in the nation for total research and development expenditures.
The introduction of legislation leading to the foundation of the college was due to the initiative of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, the abolitionist Jonathan C. Gibbs. The date also reflects the new Florida Constitution of 1885, which prohibited racial integration in schools. The College was located in Tallahassee because Leon County and adjacent counties led the state in African-American population, reflecting Tallahassee’s former status as the center of Florida’s slave trade. (See History of Tallahassee, Florida#Black history.)
On October 3, 1887, the State Normal College for Colored Students began classes, and became a land-grant college four years later when it received $7,500 under the Second Morrill Act, and its name was changed to State Normal and Industrial College for Colored Students. However, it was not an official institution of higher learning until the 1905 Buckman Act, which transferred control from the Department of Education to the Board of Control, creating what was the foundation for the modern Florida A&M University. This same act is responsible for the creation of the University of Florida and Florida State University from their previous institutions. In 1909, the name of the college was once again changed to Florida Agricultural and Mechanical College for Negroes, and in 1953 the name was finally changed to Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University. Florida A&M is the only publicly funded historically black college or university in the state of Florida.
In 1951, the university started a pharmacy and nursing program. In order to give these students hands-on experience, the university built a hospital. Until 1971 Florida A&M Hospitalwas the only one within 150 miles (240 km) of Tallahassee to serve African Americans. It closed in 1971, after then-Tallahassee Memorial Hospital started serving African Americans.
In 1963, FAMU students demonstrated against segregation in the city.
In 1992, 1995, and 1997, FAMU successfully recruited more National Achievement Scholars than Harvard.
In the fall of 1997, FAMU was selected as the TIME Magazine-Princeton Review “College of the Year” and was cited in 1999 by Black Issues in Higher Education for awarding more baccalaureate degrees to African-Americans than any institutions in the nation.
In 2017, FAMU became the first university to launch an African-American news network through its School of Journalism and Graphic Communications. The network is named “The Black Television News Channel” and is accompanied by a multimillion-dollar, media-training center for aspiring journalists. This network is expected to bring $30 million annually in economic stimulus to the Tallahassee region.