Florida Memorial University’s new president has ambitious and achievable goals

Dr. Jaffus Hardrick is President of Florida Memorial University. Photograph by Felipe Cuevas.
Dr. Jaffus Hardrick is President of Florida Memorial University. Photograph by Felipe Cuevas.

As the new president of Florida Memorial University, Dr. Jaffus Hardrick has set a challenging yet achievable target: triple student enrollment from its current level of about 1,200 undergraduates.

How does the veteran educator plan to accomplish that in the coming years? A combination of partnerships with other schools like Florida International University, expanded online and certificate offerings, and a heavy push of FMU’s STEM programs.

‘I’ve always raised the bar when it comes to fashion.’

“Part of my goal is to build bridges from Florida Memorial University to the community, and vice versa,” he said, adding that he wants to “connect the university with other institutions of higher learning in our city.”

Dr. Jaffus Hardrick at FMU. Photograph by Felipe Cuevas.

Dr. Jaffus Hardrick is Creating a Legacy at FMU

FMU, a historically black university that is celebrating its 50th year in Miami Gardens, tapped Hardrick to be its next leader over the summer. For the previous decade, he held dual roles at FIU: vice provost for student access and success, and vice president for human resources. He’s used to wearing multiple hats — he did the same thing at Baylor University, where he worked as assistant provost for academic affairs and assistant vice president for human resources.

“I think [being selected by FMU] was because of my impact and influence on the community and the institution,” Hardrick said.

A native of Dothan, Alabama, near the Florida and Georgia borders, Hardrick earned a doctorate in higher education from Baylor, a master’s degree in education from Prairie View A&M University, and a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

The legacy he left at FIU includes partnerships he helped create with Miami Northwestern and Booker T. Washington high schools aimed at promoting college. He also helped form a summer bridge program called the Golden Scholars that allowed high school graduates who didn’t meet college admission requirements take college courses over the summer. If they did well, they could migrate into the regular academic semester at FIU.

“These students are first-generation students from low economic backgrounds, and, because of the programs, they’re graduating in four years,” Hardrick said.

Dr. Jaffus Hardrick. Photograph by Felipe Cuevas.

Dressing for Success

He knows how to use fashion to his advantage, too, favoring Armani suits and other sharp ensembles.

“Everywhere I’ve worked, I’ve always raised the bar when it comes to fashion and for men to dress in a professional way,” he said. “I think when individuals dress the part, it does something for your image and it says something about the organization you represent.”

Good luck to the student or colleague who hopes to catch him wearing clashing patterns.

“I love casual as well, but I like to make sure I match. I don’t even go to Publix unless I’m dressed appropriately.” 

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