Florida Memorial University is a private coeducational institution with the distinction of being one of the oldest academic centers in the state, and the only historically Black university in South Florida.
In 1879, members of the Bethlehem Baptist Association founded the school, then called Florida Baptist Institute, in Live Oak, Fla., to create “a college of instruction for our ministers and children.” Amid racial tensions, then President Rev. Matthew Gilbert and other staff members fled Live Oak for Jacksonville, Fla., where he founded the Florida Baptist Academy in the basement of Bethel Baptist Church, with Sarah Ann Blocker as the main instructor.
In 1896, Nathan White Collier was appointed president of the Academy, a post he held for 45 years. J. Rosamond Johnson was recruited to teach music at the school, where he composed music for the poem “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing,” creating the song now known as the “Negro National Anthem.”
Due to a growing student body, in September 1918, the school began its third incarnation at its new home in St. Augustine, Fla., as the Florida Normal and Industrial Institute. The students were encouraged to be industrious and self-sufficient, receiving hands-on training in the practical fields that would allow them to support themselves and their families. In 1942, the school merged with the still-operating Florida Institute at Live Oak and became Florida Normal Industrial and Memorial College. Florida native and writer of the Harlem Renaissance, Zora Neale Hurston, served as an instructor for the school during this time.
The advent of the civil rights movement brought change to St. Augustine. Florida Memorial students protested segregation by participating in sit-ins, wade-ins, and swim-ins, orchestrated in part by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In light of the turbulent times, Dr. Royal W. Puryear oversaw the relocation of the school to a 48-acre former air strip near the South Florida City of Opa-locka in Miami-Dade County. In November 1968, the new campus opened as Florida Memorial College. In December 2004, the institution’s charter was amended, and the name Florida Memorial University was adopted.
The Florida Memorial University of today is ascending to excellence and stands in a position of great promise. Now a world-class institution, FMU offers undergraduate and graduate programs in high demand fields that prepare students for successful careers in the global marketplace. In fact, FMU graduates enjoy the sixth highest starting salaries in the state
FMU is a community of scholars committed to the pursuit of knowledge, truth, and the free exchange of ideas. Students flourish with support, encouragement, and mentorship. Faculty reinforce the importance of life-long learning, inspiring students to fully participate and contribute to society. FMU students understand what is takes to succeed.
A beautifully renovated, technologically advanced, welcoming campus is the hub of vibrant student life. Whether you reside on or off campus, you will have access to activities for every interest, including athletics, Greek life, academic organizations, the arts, and even a nationally recognized marching band. A small, family-like campus community seamlessly provides the resources and opportunities commonly found at larger institutions.
Community engagement is a crucial part of the FMU experience. The university has become a major presence in the local – and global – community, having formed strong partnerships with renowned corporations and organizations. These relationships open doors, foster connections, and provide real-world experiences that set FMU students apart from the crowd.
FMU is a culturally diverse institution, transforming lives and helping to create a future for people from many races, ethnicities, countries, religions, and socio-economic backgrounds. The FMU legacy is firmly rooted in steadfast dedication and commitment to pursue its mission to instill in our students the values of leadership, character, and service to enhance their lives and the lives of others. Strong moral character, mutual respect, freedom of worship, and a commitment to serve are the hallmarks of what it means to be a Florida Memorial Lion.