Florida State University

College of Social Sciences & Public Policy

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Alums honored for furthering academic excellence

Doby Flowers (left) and Fred Flowers (right) with FSU President John Thrasher at the Torch Awards ceremony.

Florida State University’s Faculty Senate honored five members of the university community, May 24, with the Torch Award for their contributions to furthering academic excellence at FSU.

FSU President John Thrasher commended the winners and their devotion to the university during Monday’s event.

“As a past recipient of a Torch Award, I know how special it is to be honored by the faculty in this way, and these individuals could not be more deserving,” he said. “They have donated their time, talent and treasure because they believe strongly in our mission and because they care deeply about our faculty, staff and students.

Thrasher added: “They do it, quite simply, because they love Florida State University.”

The award is named for the three torches depicted in the university’s seal. The three categories of Torch Awards are: Vires, representing moral, physical and intellectual strength; Artes, conveying an appreciation of aesthetics and the beauty of intellectual pursuits; and Mores, symbolizing respect for customs, character and tradition.

This year, the Faculty Senate conferred two Vires, two Mores and one Artes awards. Two of the honorees are alumni of the college, a brother and sister who earned master’s degrees in urban and regional planning and received the Vires Award from the senate.

The bronze likenesses of siblings Fred and Doby Flowers grace the center of FSU’s campus Integration Statue, an enduring testimony to their achievements as civil rights pioneers at FSU.

Fred and Doby ensured their places in FSU’s history as they broke highly visible color barriers on campus: Fred as the first uniformed African American athlete at FSU and Doby as the first African American FSU Homecoming Queen.

Fred came to FSU in 1965 and, as a pitcher on FSU’s baseball team, he endured vicious racial taunts and epithets not only on the road but also from local fans. Fred rose above these with poise and grace and paved the way for generations of African American athletes to follow in his footsteps.

Doby was also a trailblazer at FSU. Enrolling in 1967, she was persuaded by fellow students to run for Homecoming Queen in 1970. This was not a mere beauty pageant or popularity contest. Doby knew her successful campaign was a victory not just for the small cadre of African American students on campus but for the larger student body as well.

After earning his bachelor’s degree in philosophy and his planning master’s, Fred got a law degree from the University of Florida. He started his law practice in Tallahassee, became an expert trial attorney and litigated hundreds of cases, including a number of landmark civil rights cases where he advocated on behalf of young African American students.

Doby earned her bachelor’s degree in social welfare and, after her graduate work, built a successful career at the cross-section of the arts and business fields, a journey that took her to Boston and New York City. Her career is a testimony to the role of the arts in the service of justice. Both Fred and Doby eventually made their way home to FSU.

Both Fred and Doby have been the inspiration and prime forces in establishing the Civil Rights Institute at FSU. Established in 2018, the institute has earned recognition for its commitment to enhancing FSU’s civil rights archives and for promoting civil rights teaching and advocacy on campus.

For the full story on all five honorees, visit this link.