FVSU students are the beneficiaries of the record-setting fundraising pace celebrated by the Fort Valley State University Foundation, Inc. during FVSU’s 2017 Homecoming Week last month. The more than $1.2 million raised from alumni and friends of the university will be used to fund scholarships and other university initiatives. The announcement of many alumni gifts during Homecoming was especially powerful as they used their giving to express their enduring support for the institution.
Setting the stage was the largest gift by an alumnus in the institution’s history: a $657,000 inheritance from the estate of Elizabeth Brister, a 1968 graduate from the university. In recognition of her generosity, FVSU named the Elizabeth Brister Academic Commons and the Elizabeth Brister Lecture Hall in her honor, located in the Academic Classroom Laboratory Building on campus. Her charitable contribution will go towards student scholarships and other university initiatives. After graduating from FVSU with her bachelor’s degree, Mrs. Brister earned a master’s degree and then went on to become an educator and administrator in New Jersey for over 30 years. After her retirement, she returned home to Georgia.
“Mrs. Brister dedicated her entire life to shaping the minds of individuals responsible for our future,” said Anthony Holloman, vice president for university advancement and executive director of the FVSU Foundation, Inc. “Her legacy has to live on, and the students who walk those halls and receive those scholarships have big shoes to fill.”
Likewise, gifts from the Jones Family in the amount of $215,000 will have a profound impact on the ability of FVSU students to pay for their education. The Jones family has a long-lasting connection with FVSU, as numerous members of the family have attended and graduated from the university over the course of three generations. This family of FSVU alumni decided to cement their legacy on campus by creating the Jones Family Scholarship Endowment and providing support for other campus initiatives. The gift made by the Jones family was the second largest gift the Foundation received during its 2017 Homecoming fundraising campaign.
The Brister and Jones family gifts were just two of the many highlights from the momentous week on the university’s campus. FVSU Foundation board member Johnnie Booker, donated the Lillian B. Graves House in honor of her late mother. Graves House will serve as the residence of FVSU presidents during their tenures.
Graves, who had deep roots in her community, served Peach County as a nurse for 32 years before retiring in 1986. She was also a tireless volunteer, directing her time and talent to assist the Peach Area Habitat for Humanity, American Red Cross, Special Olympics, the Rural Health Committee, and the Emory University Women’s Health Initiative.
The final formal event of Homecoming Week was the ceremonial dedication of the Thomas and Barbara Palmer Ballroom located in the Pettigrew Center. The ballroom pays homage to Thomas James Palmer, class of 1955, and Barbara Hollimon Palmer, class of 1966. Throughout the Palmer’s combined tenures, they served the university as students, alumni, faculty and mentors. The couple, inducted into the Alumni Hall of Fame, established the Hollimon-Palmer Scholarship Endowment. The Palmers’ altruism merited them the Fort Valley State University Foundation’s Philanthropic Achievement Award as well as the Maggie Davis Legacy Award.
Additional significant homecoming gifts to the FVSU Foundation, Inc. included gifts from the FVSU President Paul Jones, The Honorable Calvin Smyre, Virginia Tate, the Kitchens Family, Oscar Jessie, Jr., the Lomax Peter Golf-Growl Club, Thomas Dortch, Willie and Cora Billingslea, and Jean Wacaster, which totaled $186,394.63.