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FAMU-FSU College of Engineering: A tale of two universities

FSU College of Engineering

Enrollment, graduation numbers going in different directions at FAMU-FSU College of Engineering

Yaw Yeboah, dean of the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering, has been preaching a message of unity since the moment he arrived in Tallahassee almost two years ago. “Two universities, one college, twice the opportunities,” Yeboah has said time and again.

But the numbers, at least on their surface, tell a different story, a tale of two universities.

With the Legislature on the verge of possibly dividing the college — a costly, unexpected, intensely emotional and highly contentious move proposed earlier this month, one that is unanimously opposed by Florida A&M while at the same time is welcomed by Florida State — there has been little talk about how well the jointly run college is operating.

The two universities, vastly different in size and resources, are far from equal participants at the college. They never have been, but they are less equal today than they ever have been. The enrollment and graduation numbers over the past 15 years — not to mention contrasting investments in faculty and research facilities — portray an ever-widening gulf between FAMU and FSU at the College of Engineering (COE).

In 1998, Florida State University had 1,058 undergraduates enrolled at the college; FAMU had 830. Fast-forward 15 years to the 2012-13 academic year, with numbers available on the Board of Governors’ website: FSU had 2,142 students, more than double its 1998 figure; FAMU had 369, fewer than half its enrollment of 15 years earlier.

The number of students earning diplomas has followed nearly identical trends. FSU awarded degrees to 160 undergraduates in 1998, compared to 267 in 2013. FAMU went from 100 to 34.

The College of Engineering has two budgets, a joint budget that is managed by FAMU as the Legislature mandated when it created the unique, combined college in 1982, and a separate FSU budget maintained by FSU to cover the costs associated with additional faculty positions. The joint budget is about $11 million, while the FSU budget is $5 million “and has been growing,” Yeboah said.

There are 23 FAMU and 27 FSU tenure-track faculty in the joint budget, and 36 tenure-track faculty in the separate FSU budget.

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