Beck set standards for FAMU’s School of Allied Health Sciences
By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook staff writer
Former FAMU president Walter Smith didn’t have to look too far when he decided to add a School of Allied Health Sciences at the university more than three decades ago.
At the time he called on Jacqueline Beck, who was serving as acting dean of the school of nursing. She had shown enough passion and enthusiasm for healthcare, which Smith said made Beck an easy choice to lead the push for the school.
Beck delved in, helping Smith fight off every challenge to get the School of Allied Health Sciences established.
Beck passed away at Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare last Tuesday. She was 86.
Beck is survived by her daughter, Juanda Beck-Jones, son-in-law, Ernest Jones and her beloved granddaughter, Elizabeth Anne Jones.
Those who knew Beck remember her as a trailblazer who stood up to every challenge in her path when it came to health education.
Thirty-five years after she set the framework for the School of Allied Health Sciences, it is recognized as the leader in educating professionals in allied health.
“Dean Beck’s keen intellect and administrative skills established her as a national leader in higher education and propelled our Allied Health Sciences program to be among the best in the nation,” said Larry Robinson, FAMU’s interim president. “Her dedication and commitment to her students, faculty and staff were exceeded only by her love of her family, FAMU, and the Tallahassee community.”
Establishing FAMU’s School of Allied Health Science at FAMU was no easy task, though. Smith recalled facing some push back from the state Board of Regents.
“The long and short of it was we battled and we got it,” Smith said. “It meant so much.”
Beck’s career began in 1958 as a nursing instructor at Florida A&M. She left a legacy as founding dean of the School of Allied Health Sciences and was named professor emeritus when she retired in 2003.
Four years after her retirement, Beck became a permanent part of FAMU’s history when the university affixed her name to the building now known as the Margaret W. Lewis-Jacqueline B. Beck Building.
She has won countless awards for her passion, drive and unwavering commitment to health education.
“You do things and you do it to the best of your abilities whenever you do it,” Beck said during an interview this past spring. “You feel good about it if the outcome is positive.”
Indeed she has assured just that, bringing the School of Allied Health Sciences from its first years with just four divisions and 20 students. Today hundreds of students are enrolled for courses in cardiopulmonary science, health care management, health informatics and information management, occupational therapy and physical therapy.
Occupational therapy offers a sub-division concentration in health science/occupation and wellness concentration, while physical therapy offers a health science–pre-physical therapy concentration.
A devout Christian, Beck was a member of Bethel Missionary Baptist Church.
“Dr Beck was a brilliant and courageous educator, leader and visionary,” said Rev. R.B. Holmes, pastor at Bethel. “Her great works and rich legacy will be remembered for years to come.
“She set the high standards for students who are now occupational and physical therapists. She opened the doors for patients to be able to recover from debilitating health issues. She was a profound and prolific dean.”
Holmes cited Beck’s leadership in the church and community.
Linda Fortenberry, a longtime church member at Bethel, called Beck a spiritual mother to many.
“For over 10 years, she sat immediately behind me on the right side, fourth pew, aisle seat,” Fortenberry said. “I shall deeply cherish the memories of the wonderful fellowship we had every Sunday, her wit, her grace, and her fortitude.”