Florida Memorial University battles through probation
Despite recent hurdles and challenges, Florida Memorial University (FMU) is pushing forward with promising educational programs, student life activities and a positive outlook for the future.
Founded in 1879 and carrying on its legacy as the oldest and only Black university in South Florida, FMU at 15800 NW 42nd Ave. in Miami Gardens has recently faced challenges after being placed on a one-year probation in June due to financial burdens and decline of enrollment, according to a June 22 disclosure statement from The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
The SACSCOC, which accredits degree-granting higher education institutions across 11 southern states, has been monitoring FMU for the past two years and decided to extend accreditation for “good cause” for one year due to the institution’s demonstration of recent significant accomplishments, the commission’s disclosure statement said.
“FMU continues to invest in the education of young people through new academic programs, the Momentum Fund scholarships for deserving students and make sure that all students have an opportunity to pursue a college education,” said Dr. Jacqueline Hill, the university’s dean of the School of Education and associate provost for Continuing Education and Professional Studies. “We are going in the positive direction and confident that FMU will keep its accreditation. We’ve been very strategic in many areas of our university in order to address the matter.”
One of those strategic moves was to hit a target enrollment goal of 850 students for the fall term, which was blown out of the water with an addition of over 300 freshmen students, which increased the current student enrollment population to more than 960, Dr. Hill said.
This past summer, the university transitioned to a completely wireless infrastructure, with upgraded Wi-Fi equipment, improved connectivity, and high-speed access campus-wide, including all dorm rooms and common spaces.
These new campus upgrades contributed to new education programming like the fully online School of Education masters of science 30-credit program, School of Arts and Sciences healthcare management program, and masters of business administration program.
“Our law and government program is faring pretty good. We actually just recently created a partnership with St. Thomas University, looking at a pipeline for students who want to go on to St. Thomas University School of Law,” Dr. Hill said. “Another feature of our program is now we have a division of continuing education and professional studies that was launched in January, and these are our workforce development certificate programs – in particular, the construction trade program and home health aide.”
Campus life is robust, with more than 40 active student organizations including academic clubs, Greek organizations, athletics; a much-anticipated football team after a 62-year hiatus; and a nationally renowned marching band, she added. “In fact, ESPN recently named The ROAR marching band the number two band in Division II among HBCUs in the nation.”
In June 2022, a SACSCOC committee panel is to review a monitoring report submitted by FMU. The committee will then determine whether to extend probation for another year for “good cause,” remove the university from probation altogether, or discredit FMU as a higher education, degree-granting university.
“We’re really turning into a positive direction, and we’re excited about the new energy and the new direction that we’re going in,” Dr. Hill said. “Our academic and strategic plan is ascending to excellence.”