If you don’t know by now, Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University, or FAMU, is an academic institution that is near and dear to Kathy Salem’s heart. Back in November, four talented jazz musicians from the school were inaugural recipients of the Kathy Salem Jazz Scholarship. Salem started the scholarship because she believes that it is important to foster the talents of the next generation of jazz musicians. The scholarship allows her to support the genre of music that she loves so much and enrich the lives of aspiring performers.
So, you’re probably wondering, “Out of all the schools that she could have supported, why FAMU?”
Allow us to share a few interesting things about this university.
Founded in 1887, FAMU is the fifth largest historically black university based on enrollment and the only public historically black university in Tallahassee, Florida. FAMU is also a land-grant university.
At its start, the school was known as the State Normal College for Colored Students. Four years later, the school became a land-grant university under the second Morrill Act and its name was changed to the State Normal and Industrial College for Colored Students.
There were three Morrill Acts. One in 1862, one in 1890 and the last one in 1994. Under these acts, schools were designated to teach agriculture, military tactics, mechanic arts, and classical studies so the working class could obtain a liberal and practical education.
The second Morrill Act in 1890 was created to extend access to higher education by providing additional endowments for all land-grants, but prohibited the distribution of money to states that discriminated against students based on race. However, states that provided separate land-grant institutions for black people could receive funding.
While FAMU was eligible for the grant, it didn’t become an official learning institution until 1905. After a few more name and leadership changes, the school became known as Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University in 1953.
Today, FAMU’s main campus has 156 buildings that are spread out over 422 acres of land. The university also has several satellite campuses in Orlando, Miami, Jacksonville, and Tampa. FAMU enrolls around 11,000 students annually from the United States and more than 70 countries. The university offers 54 bachelor’s degree programs, 29 master’s degree programs, three professional degree programs, and 12 doctoral degree programs.
FAMU is also home to a nationally ranked Jazz Ensembles that is composed of eighteen musicians selected from approximately four hundred musicians in the university’s band program. The Jazz Ensemble is noted for its diversity of styles and is often invited to perform at jazz festivals across the country.
These are just a few things that make FAMU special. You can read more about the school and its history, here.