Dr. Larry E. Rivers
On March 14, 2006, Dr. Larry E. Rivers became FVSU’s eighth president. To raise money for the school, Rivers and First Lady Betty Jean Rivers donated seed money from their personal savings to begin a challenge fund with $100,000. The leadership adopted “Communiversity” as a way to strengthen ties between the Fort Valley community through joint service projects and collaborative programs. Later that year, Warner Robins Center reopened, offering courses in social work, computer science, computer information systems, business administration and electronic engineering technology.
FVSU signed agreements with Central Georgia Technical College and Middle Georgia Technical College – ensuring a smooth transition for students from technical schools entering the university. A massive beautification of FVSU’s campus took place in 2006. The university received a $700,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Interior, with a $300,000 match from the Georgia Board of Regents to begin the restoration and stabilization of Huntington Hall. A new Centennial Monument – the Wildcat statue – was dedicated. In fall 2007, the $44-million Wildcat Commons, a 951-bed student residential complex, opened. Later that year, the school’s Valley Behavioral Health Services opened. Last year, the new Wildcat stadium opened on campus. A $19 million state-of-the-art SMART Academic Classroom and Laboratory Building project, which launched in 2007, will open in the Fall 2010.
Construction projects totaled only $30 million between 1976 and 2006. But under Rivers’ leadership, the value of capital projects increased by six to $160 million (since 2006).
The university’s enrollment has also flourished under Rivers’ tenure. In 2007, the student population rose by more than 17 percent with a historically-high freshmen enrollment. The increase was the largest in the University System of Georgia. For the 2010-2011 school year, the student enrollment is projected to reach 4,000 students. Rivers’ ultimate goal is to boost the student enrollment to 5,000 by 2012.
Fort Valley State University is the engine that drives economic growth in the Middle Georgia region. The Intellectual Capital Partnership Program (ICAPP), an initiative of the Board of Regents commissioned the University of Georgia’s Selig Center for Economic Growth to analyze data collected between July 1, 2008 and June 30, 2009. The results show the entire university system’s FY2009 economic impact. FVSU provides 1,535 jobs to workers and contributes more than $85 million to the local economy.
Famous alumni include state representative Calvin Smyre, NFL professional football players Greg Lloyd and Tyrone Poole; also Hall of Famer Rayfield Wright, and Olympic Gold Medalist.
In Nov. 2012, Dr. Larry Rivers announced his plans to step down as president of Fort Valley State University, effective June 30, 2013. University System of Georgia Chancellor Hank Huckaby named Kimberly Ballard-Washington to serve as interim president at Fort Valley State University in June 21, 2013. Ballard-Washington serves as the assistant vice chancellor for legal affairs for the USG and assistant secretary to the Board of Regents.
A national search resulted in the Board of Regents’ decision to name Dr. Ivelaw Lloyd Griffith, provost and senior vice president at York College of the City University of New York, as FVSU’s next president, effective July 22, 2013.