Social sciences forum honors past; celebrates present

May 13, 2016 – Fort Valley State University students recently competed for cash prizes and honored the contributions of the founders of the campus’ social sciences department during the Banks Pierro Rutland Bellamy Forum.

Wildcat students presented research papers in the W.W.E. Blanchet Computer Technology and Mathematics Building auditorium as part of a competition for top honors. Later, student scholars and distinguished alums were recognized at a luncheon at noon in the Student Amenities Building banquet room.

Las Vegas native Alexandra Neal, a sophomore earning a dual degree in animal science and history, welcomed the luncheon guests.
“The BPRB luncheon gives us an opportunity to honor our academic alums who are stellar and have integrity beyond reproach,” Little said. “Some are the first African Americans to hold their positions. That is why were are honoring them here today.”

During the luncheon, Wildcat students learned about the history of the event, which was started to help prepare social science students to present their research and scholarship. Students heard stories about the founders from Sharon Pierro, daughter of social sciences department founder Earl Pierro.

Pierro said she was a cradle Wildcat who had been born in the infirmary of Fort Valley State College. She spent her first years of life in faculty housing on campus. She also broke in the new patio of Jeanes Hall with her skates.

Pierro gave personality profiles of each one of FVSU’s social sciences founders. According to Pierro,  W.S. M. Banks, the chief and chairman of the department, led in a cheerful manner.  She told the audience her father, Earl Pierro was a sharp dresser, who was soft spoken, kind and a football and basketball announcer. She described Rutland as regal, proud and sweet person. She said when Rutland was not reading the Bible, he was ensuring that students used proper language, because he did not believe that students were in college to reproduce the environment they came from.

She stated that Bellamy was a scholar and orator with a particular expertise with sentence structure. She said his youthfulness and vitality were essential in helping to establish the Honors Reading Program.

“These four professors spoke well, did the work, and dressed the part,” Pierro said. “They carried themselves with dignity.

During the luncheon, FVSU alumnus Judge Willie Lockette, chief judge of the Superior Court of Dougherty County, told the BPRB audience that he wanted to make a special announcement.

“I have  been conferring with my colleagues, and we decided it would be a wonderful idea to come up with an award to honor the life of Austin T. Walden, the first graduate of Fort Valley High and Industrial School (which later became FVSU). Walden was the first African-American judge to serve in Georgia since the Reconstruction period. Lockette said he would be conferring with all attorneys and lawyers that graduated from FVSU to assist in the creation of the new award for students.

Several alums and students were recognized during the luncheon. Dr. Marcie Hunt Harris,  who is the director of Student Services for the Monroe County Board of Education in Forsyth, Ga., received the Dr. Donnie D. Bellamy Award of Distinction.

Hunt-Harris is the great great-granddaughter of Henry A. Hunt, the second principal of Fort Valley High and Industrial School. Hunt Harris said she was a Peach County Girl that grew up at Fort Valley State University. She told students that one man or woman could change the world.

“Anywhere in the world you go, you’ll have an alumni that will have your back,” Hunt-Harris said. “We need you to continue the work that was started so long ago by our founders.”

Following Hunt Harris’ speech, Dr. Meigan Fields, FVSU’s Honors Program founding director,  was visibly moved.

“I am standing here with tears in my eyes, hearing these alums say that you will have a Wildcat alum that will have your back,” Fields said. “I graduated from another school, but I don’t send my money to support that school, I spend it at FVSU.”

During the ceremony, the 2016 BPRB scholarship recipients and winners of the morning paper competition were also announced.

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  • Donnie D. Bellamy Award of Distinction – Dr. Marcy Hunt-Harris
  • Outstanding Alumnus in Social Sciences – Chief Lawrence Z. Spurgeon
  • Outstanding Alumnus in Social Sciences – Chief Ronald Rogers
  • Outstanding Alumna in Behavioral Sciences – Dr. Bridget Holyfield-Moss