FVSU president addresses campus following tragedy

FVSU sign

May 4, 2016

Dear Fort Valley State University Family:

Our campus has suffered a devastating and senseless act of violence on Tuesday, May 3, 2016 that resulted in the death of a Donnell Phelps, a Fort Valley State University freshman from Marshallville, Ga. We extend our most heartfelt condolences to Mr. Phelps’ family and friends as well as to his university family and friends.

When violence like this happens, and it is an exceptionally rare occurrence at Fort Valley State, it shakes us as a campus family to our core and strips us of our cloak of normalcy and safety. We find ourselves seeking reassurances that the unimaginable will not happen again. I want to let you know that as president of this institution, as a parent and as a member of this campus family, I understand your concerns.

During this time of mourning and healing, we will come together and support each other as we always do in times of difficulty because we are resilient. Let us honor and remember Donnell Phelps and continue to support Earnest Johnson, our security officer who also suffered injuries during the attack. Trust that our collective strength and fortitude positions us to trudge through the daily routines of university life, including exams and preparations for commencement because we refuse to be lasting victims to this senseless act of violence.

Let me assure you that we are doing everything possible to ensure our campus continues to be safe. We have trained officers patrolling the campus around the clock. We will continue to be vigilant and follow the safety measures in place. We remain each other’s keepers.

With the assistance of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and supported by our campus police, the criminal investigation into the violent attacks is moving forward.

The university is offering ongoing grief counseling to the campus community, including students, faculty and staff. Please don’t hesitate to seek and take advantage of this service. Grief can manifest at anytime. As a result, services will be made available for as long as needed.

We thank you for your continued support and prayers as we face this tragedy. We will continue our enduring legacy of uplifting students through higher education.

Thank you again for your continued support of Fort Valley State.


Paul Jones