Alums toast FVSU’s first family

May 24, 2013 – At a swanky, plush affair at the C.W. Pettigrew Center, Fort Valley State University’s National Alumni Association, Inc. and FVSU Foundation, Inc. celebrated the accomplishments and future goals of the campus’ first family. On May 18, a farewell reception honored President Larry E. Rivers and his wife, Betty, for their role in moving the university forward.

To create an unforgettable occasion, organizers presented an exquisitely carved ice sculpture (that doubled as a wine bar) imprinted with FVSU’s insignia in blue.

Draped cocktail tables tempted guests with handcrafted chocolate, lemon and strawberry trifle desserts, while a jazz band’s upbeat background music set the festive ambiance.

Angela Fussell, an FVSU NAA, Inc. member, and Georgia representative Calvin Smyre, the FVSU Foundation Inc. chairman, officiated the event.

LouAnn Gross, the alumni association’s District I representative, welcomed everyone to the event. Donning her best Dr. Rivers impersonation, Gross welcomed everyone to the event. “This is the day that the Lord has made,” she said. “Let us rejoice, and be glad.

” Following Gross’ introductions, Leon Maben, alumni association member, delivered a touching tribute, and Dr. Kelly D. Dawsey gave the invocation.


Later, Dorothy Buckner, national alumni treasurer, presented a special commendation from Georgia Governor Nathan Deal’s office.

“Please accept my congratulations on your fine record,” said Deal, in a letter. “As the eighth president of FVSU, you have fulfilled the vision of making this institute of learning a competitive force in higher education. Your tenure at Fort Valley State has led for higher enrollment, facility expansion and community outreach with the town of Fort Valley. These initiatives have forged a stronger future for both the university and the State of Georgia.” Buckner presented Rivers with a framed copy of the governor’s letter.

Kenneth Cutts, district director in Congressman Sanford Bishop Jr.’s office, delivered a proclamation to President and First Lady Rivers for their service to the university.

During the event, a surprise admirer appeared to wish the first couple well. Dr. CherylDozier, president of Savannah State University, thanked Dr. Rivers for the invaluable advice he provided to her as a university president.

Special Presentations

Albert O’Bryant, Middle Georgia Business Association representative, Dr. LawrenceMarable, FVSU NAA, Inc. president, and Rep. Smyre presented special gifts.

The Rivers received a frame picture of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at a baccalaureate ceremony.

Dr. Marable (center) and Rep. Symre (far left) delivered a $10,000 check on behalf of the FVSU NAA, Inc. and FVSU Foundation, Inc. to support the couple’s new Dr. Larry E. and Betty H. Scholarship Endowment.

Following the presentations, Rufus O. Green II (left), national alumni association member, and Dr. Melody L. Carter, vice president for external affairs and executive director for the FVSU Foundation, Inc., presented a toast to honor the couple for their extraordinary contributions to the university.

At the end of the tributes, Dr. Rivers thanked the NAA, Inc. and the FVSU Foundation, Inc. for the event and their support. He recounted the accomplishments of his administration that included balanced budget and capital projects that have helped the university thrive. Rivers also emphasized the need for transparency in any administration. He told the crowd that FVSU had an “unqualified” audit rating, which means that the university was in good standing. First Lady Rivers discussed programs she initiated that positively affected the lives of Wildcats by raising scholarship dollars, such as Sip-n-Chat and Tea at Noon in June.
After closing remarks by the alumni association vice president, Doug Morris, the crowd drifted into the Pettigrew Center to mingle and enjoy refreshments.
To see highlights from reception, visit
Christina D. Milton,writer
Fort Valley State University
Office of Marketing and Communications
(478) 822-7589,