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Esteemed HBCU president dies

Faculty, alumni, family and friends reflects on the life and impact of the beloved Dr. Frederick S. Humphries following his death.

By Amore
Texas Metro News

Dr. Frederick S. Humphries

The news of Dr. Frederick S. Humphries’ death on June 24 at his home in Orlando, Fla was literally heard around the world because of his enormous presence in the lives of and outreach to faculty, alumni, and friends of both Florida A&M (FAMU) and Tennessee State (TSU) Universities.

Dr. Humphries served as TSU’s 4th president.

In 1985 he became the eighth president of FAMU and under his leadership FAMU was named Time Magazine’s College of the Year. It is also important to note that during Dr. Humphries’ tenure, enrollment at FAMU rose from 5,100 in 1985 to more than 12,000 students in 1999.

Current FAMU President Dr. Larry Robinson shared a message following Dr. Humphries’ death.


“We have been informed of the unfortunate passing of Dr. Frederick S. Humphries, the eighth president of Florida A&M University,” he said. “The dark clouds have indeed gathered on the horizon. Dr. Humphries is one of FAMU’s favorite sons.”

Dr. Robinson talked further about Dr. Humphries’ commitment to the advancement of higher education, in particular within the HBCU community, and how the Appalachicola, Fla. native changed the trajectory of FAMU.

He continued, “We join the Humphries family, friends and Rattlers around the world in celebrating a life dedicated to service and one well-lived.”

A proud member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Dr. Humphries is well-known throughout the Metroplex, having recruited heavily in the area from 1985 – 2001.

A 1957 magna cum laude chemistry graduate of Florida A&M, following his sister, Mona who was Miss Florida A&M when she graduated with a chemistry degree in 1954. The 17th president of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., she also died at age 85, in 2018.


Former FAMU Student Government President Andrew Whigham III talked about the depth and breadth of Dr. Humphries influence recently on his BlogTalkRadio show, “The World According to Drew.”

Numerous callers phoned in to share their thoughts on their favorite president, including former National Alumni President, Dr. Carolyn Collins, from Tampa, Fla.

“I had the esteemed honor and pleasure of working with Dr. Humphries during the Centennial Celebration in 1987 and before that, I served as SGA President when he was at the helm of FAMU,” said Whigham, who is now a respiratory therapist at a local Dallas hospital. “He made sure we had all the opportunities to thrive as students and productive members of society. Numerous times on flights, I would sit with him and Mrs. Humphries and discuss the future of the university. He really cared about the success of FAMU and the students.”

Whigham said he cherishes the memories and the knowledge he gained through his association with Dr. Humphries.

A recipient of numerous awards and honorary doctorate degrees, Dr. Humphries served as chairman of the Board of Directors of the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges, and a member of President Bill Clinton’s White House Advisory Committee on HBCUs. He was also a member of the Board of Directors of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.; Barnett Bank (Bank of America), Florida, the National Merit Corporation, the Princeton Review, Academy for Educational Development (AED) and a founder and board member of the Thurgood Marshall Fund.


Dr. Humphries is survived by three children, Frederick Jr., Robin Tanya Watson, and Laurence Humphries, and eight grandchildren. Antoinette McTurner Humphries, his wife of 46 years, died in 2006.

FAMU announced that on Thursday at 6 p.m. the Student Government Association will sponsor the University Students’ Vigil at FAMU.

Dr. Humphries will lie in state at Lee Hall from 3 to 6 p.m. on Friday, July 9 and his funeral is scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday, July 10, at the Al Lawson Center.

A public wake is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Friday prior to an Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Memorial Service at 7 p.m., which will also be open to the public.

There will also be a Memorial Service at Tennessee State University in Nashville, TN at 2 p.m. on July 18, 2021.


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