FVSU president celebrates first year in office

Dr. Ivelaw Lloyd Griffith

July 25, 2014  Fort Valley State University President Dr. Ivelaw Lloyd Griffith is celebrating the completion of an inaugural year that not only included the launching of two key academic programs, but also the forging of new strategic academic alliances, the creation of a Global Initiatives program, the hiring of three new academic leaders and the appointment of several new faces to his campus leadership team, including cabinet members.

“It’s been an interesting year; it’s been a fun year; it’s been a year to create the basis for wonderful new things that will take Fort Valley State University from a place of greatness to a place of greater heights in the educational mountaintop,” Griffith said.

During an interview earlier this week, FVSU’s Wildcat-in-Chief discussed several the new initiatives that are intended to attract not only more students, but also a more diverse pool of high achievers.

“We’ve started an honors program,” Griffith said. “I’m delighted that Dr. Meigan Fields, our founding director, will be launching the inaugural class this fall with almost 60 students. We also started an undergraduate research program, which I intend to make a university-wide initiative. It builds on pockets of undergraduate research that were already here. I am delighted that Dr. Sarwan Dhir, part of our agricultural school and a leading researcher and mentor, is our founding director; and Dr. Andrew Lee, a humanities professor in the College of Arts and Sciences, is our associate director.”

Griffith said another important part of elevating FVSU to new heights was to push forward his global agenda. 

“Our institution needs to extend the educational enterprise beyond Georgia, beyond the United States; and that’s part of the foundation that we’ve been laying in the first year,” he said. “We’ve started a Global Initiatives Council that gives advice, helps with recruitment and helps us raise funds.”

To launch the global push, Griffith traveled to Guyana and Trinidad at the behest of Brent Hardt, the U.S. Ambassador for Guyana. The trip was part of a U.S. Public Diplomacy Speakers’ program and Griffith met with Guyanese president Donald Ramotar, as well as spoke before the country’s parliament. In addition to his international travels, FVSU’s president also has hosted foreign delegations from Guyana, Brazil, Trinidad and Tobago.

The global thrust has been reciprocated by international visitors to the FVSU campus. In addition to international political leaders,  dignitaries from various countries have also made an appearance at FVSU during Griffith’s first year.

U.S. Farm Bill author, the Hon. Debbie Stabenaw, a Michigan senator, visited the campus, and spoke with President Griffith about his proposed Center for Homeland and Global Food Security on campus. Saint Lucia’s Prime Minister Kenny Davis Anthony delivered the fall 2013 commencement address in December 2013. Griffith also hosted the Consulate General of Nigeria,Ambassador Geoffrey Teneilabe, during a luncheon at FVSU’s Agricultural Technology Center earlier this year.

During the president’s first year, the university received two commendations from state lawmakers and leaders. On Feb. 26, Governor Nathan Deal honored the university with a special commendation for the campus’ continued contributions and impact on higher education. The following month, Georgia House and Senate held “FVSU Day at the Capitol” for the university.

Griffith also secured a record-setting donation from the Alumni Class of 1964. The Golden Class donated $70,000 to FVSU as part of its 50-year reunion and celebration.

Fort Valley State was named to U.S. News and World Report’s top ten list of HBCU alums who donate to their college campuses. FVSU was also named by The Institute of College Access and Success as one of America’s top ten schools whose students graduated with the lowest amounts of debt. RaShawndra Strozier, a 22-year-old FVSU student who earned her bachelor’s in criminal justice, was recognized as one of the students who graduated debt free with the class of 2014.

Additionally, the president’s improvements at FVSU include modifying the institution’s advising system to boost retention rates; improving facilities on campus and securing $400,000 from the University System of Georgia to fix FVSU’s damaged pool.

Read more about President Griffith’s highlights in The Telegraph: Griffith marks first year at helm of FVSU.

View video of the first anniversary celebration here.