Feb. 24, 2014 – Two Fort Valley State University officials recently toured several Caribbean nations in a bid to forge international partnerships and recruit new students to the university’s campus.
FVSU President Ivelaw Lloyd Griffith was initially invited to speak about Caribbean security issues and America’s bilateral agenda in Guyana, as part of the U.S. Public Diplomacy Speakers’ Program. President Griffith saw the invitation as an opportunity to expand FVSU’s global reach and he included Dr. Govind Kannan, FVSU’s interim vice president for academic affairs, on the trip.
“I look forward to using the Guyana and Trinidad visit as the first phase of building solid partnerships that will benefit both FVSU and the partner institutions,” Griffith said before his departure, adding officials from Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago are planning to travel to FVSU to learn about agricultural research and extension services
The Speakers’ Program—initiated by the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs—is part of a United States government program that supports U.S. foreign policy goals and security interests by strengthening relationships with international countries.
The U.S. Ambassador to Guyana, Dr. D. Brent Hardt, invited Dr. Griffith to participate in the program speakers’ tour. In a statement released to the Kaieteur News and other local media, Ambassador Hardt indicated that he has known FVSU’s president for many years. The diplomat explained that the United States has depended on Griffith to provide background and analysis to diplomats before they undertake their missions to Caribbean nations. Hardt said that Griffith is the leading scholar on security issues affecting the Caribbean region.
President Griffith, a Guyanese-born U.S. citizen, is a seasoned political scientist who specializes on topics related to Caribbean security, drugs and crime. He has authored and edited seven books and written 50 scholarly articles in his area of expertise. Additionally the author has testified before the United States Congress on security issues. As well, he has advised the U.S. Agency for International Development and other United States and international agencies He has also been a consultant to Canada’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. Griffith is the past president of the Caribbean Studies Association, and a visiting scholar for the William Perry Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies in Washington, D.C., the Royal Military College of Canada.
During his meeting with the Guyanese president, Donald Ramotar, Griffith discussed the potential for the country to send students to Fort Valley State and a plan that calls for FVSU to offer needed instruction to government officials from the governments of Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago.
President Griffith also said there will be a role for Caribbean and other countries in the university’s proposed Center for Homeland and Global Food Security. According to Griffith, challenges of food security go beyond producing food, to matters of logistics to reduce spoilage and moving it from farm to the marketplace. FVSU’s CEO said the problem also involves properly educating citizens about better food choices.
Kannan spoke to the President Ramotar and other officials about the university’s small ruminant program and how it helps revitalize communities around the world.
After meeting with President Ramotar, Griffith addressed the nation’s parliament and discussed security challenges it was facing, including its maritime and territorial disputes.
Following their visit to Guyana, FVSU officials visited Trinidad and Tobago and had discussions with leaders at the University of the West Indies and with representatives from Trinidad and Tobago’s ministries of Agriculture and of National Security.
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Christina Milton, writer
Marketing and Communications