Robinson: Customer service at FAMU is a priority
By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook staff writer
While giving a brief state of the university, FAMU president Larry Robinson touched on the big-ticket issues like accreditation, filling vacancies with new deans and major accomplishments.
And, to the surprise to some in the 220 Quarterback Club luncheon audience, he said he’s redoubling his effort to improve customer service at the university. Dissatisfaction over customer service has been such a longstanding concern, that it has been perceived to be part of the culture.
An outside consultant has been hired to work with staff to analyze ways to make improvements, Robinson said.
“It’s not going to be a fleeting thing,” Robinson said. “We are going to engrain that more and more into the culture of the university, understanding how we treat our customers. It’s extremely important in building the type of rapport we need to have with our stakeholders.”
Addressing customer service is too important not to make it right, Robinson said, because too much is at stake. No one who is the first point of contact for the university could afford to have a bad day, he said.
“The people who are calling, calls that you missed, or the person that you don’t have a good attitude with could be the person coming to make a major contribution,” Robinson said. “It could be a student whose longevity at this institution could be impacted by giving them a quick, timely, caring response.
“We are all in to making sure it’s not just an exercise. We have to make sure that we do justice to the people we provide service to.”
Robinson also said he expects the student population at FAMU to reach the 12,000 mark this fall. Applications to the university have increased 20 percent over last year, he said.
That took him to student housing, a topic discussed intensely during a recent Board of Trustees meeting. Most of the discussion focused on how to fund a proposed state-of-the-art dormitory.
While talks are ongoing, Robinson is making a case for housing more students on campus by pointing to a study that says students who live in dorms generally do well in the classroom.
“The dormitory experience for FAMU students is to make sure they get off on the right path academically,” he said. “Our housing plan is about how we can impact the overall success of our students.”
FAMU also is in discussions about how to finance completion of a Center for Access and Student Success, which had its ground breaking on Wahnish Way several months ago. Responding to a question about when it will be completed, Robinson said: “We are not content with sitting there with a hole in the ground.”
Among the accomplishments that Robinson touched on was the fact five FAMU alums have made huge gains in their professional careers. They include Mayor Andrew Gillum and four others who currently hold similar positions in other states, and Kimberly Godwin, vice president of news for CBS.
Robinson also touted the university’s recent accreditation for the next 10 years. Final validation will come at a meeting in November, he said.
“This is going to be a new experience for us because so many times we go to those meetings worrying about what is going to happen; were we going to be reaffirmed or be on probation,” he said. “This university is doing things so well that they couldn’t even find room to say you could do this better.
“That’s a testament to the outstanding work of the faculty, staff and the administration. And, the students as well as our Board of Trustees.”