FMU taps pioneer for esports programme

Florida Memorial University (FMU), the only historically Black university in South Florida, has appointed sports marketing pioneer Dr Marc Williams as the global scholar-practitioner to lead the first comprehensive STEM esports programme.

A leading esports and sport marketing educator and thought leader, Williams will be responsible for creating an innovative STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) programme that focuses on coding, technology, production, communications, esports, marketing and entrepreneurship, among other areas.

FMU’s movement into esports is a component of FMU president Jaffus Hardrick’s ambitious plan to expand enrollment and elevate the university to global pre-eminence. Hardrick said:

"At FMU, we offer students the opportunity to transform themselves and their communities by equipping them with a high-quality education and preparing them to capitalise on economic opportunities.

"We have confidence that Dr. Williams will help FMU students’ cash-in on the $1.11 billion esports market."

Affectionately known as Dr. Marc, Williams brings more than 25 years of experience in the entertainment, education, and retail sectors, including tenures at three of the world’s largest sports brands: Champs Sports, Footaction, and Reebok.

He led a team that helped Champs Sports become a billion-dollar brand and was one of the catalysts to create the sports retail industry’s first monumental partnership deal with hip hop icons Jay Z and 50 Cent.

He also secured sports retail’s first product placement deal within the videogame industry in the 2003 iconic Streethoops Basketball Game by Activision/Blizzard.

FMU provost Adrienne Cooper said:

"Bringing Dr Marc to FMU to build programmes based on gaming was a no-brainer. Building an academic programme focused on the multi-billion-dollar esports and video gaming industries will engage our current students and attract new ones.

"It is timely and forward-thinking, preparing our graduates to be competitive in the global marketplace. What I am most excited about is that, although it is rooted in STEM, it is an academic bridge that engages all disciplines."

Among other academic appointments, Williams served as Hearst Visiting Professional at the University of Florida, distinguished visiting scholar at the University of Houston and Louisiana State University Eunice.

He is the co-founder of the esports Business and Entertainment program at Saint Peter’s University.

Williams regularly provides commentary in various international media outlets such as CBS Evening News and BBC World News. Williams is also recognised as one of the top 20 inspirational speakers in the world and has lectured at some of the most prestigious universities like Harvard, Dartmouth, Princeton, and Clemson. He said:

"I am very excited about the opportunity to transform Florida Memorial University into one of the leading schools in the nation that provides students the knowledge and skills needed for careers in STEAM-related fields and the videogame industry.

"The global gaming industry is expected to grow from $139 billion to $300 billion by 2025. The esports sector is growing at an exponential rate of 40% each year and expected to reach over $2 billion by 2021. Finding innovative ways to attract students to attend FMU, especially Black and Brown children, is one of the key reasons I decided to come to this university."

Williams earned a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from William Paterson University of New Jersey, a master’s degree in Sports Management from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and a doctorate in Curriculum and Education at West Virginia University.