As summer turned to fall, Fort Valley State University marked significant growth in its fundraising pace by announcing the largest gift from an alumnus in the institution’s history, a $675,000 bequest from the estate of the late Elizabeth Brister, a 1968 graduate with a bachelor’s degree in science. After obtaining a master’s degree, Mrs. Brister worked for over 30 years as an educator and administrator in New Jersey before retiring back home in Georgia. Mrs. Brister’s gift will be used to fund scholarships and other initiatives at the university.
“Like Fort Valley State University, Mrs. Brister spent her life making education available to those who needed it most,” said Dr. Paul Jones, FVSU president. “That she would choose to trust us with a large part of her enduring legacy just shows the incredible power, and responsibility, inherent in what we do. We don’t just impact lives for four years. As Mrs. Brister has shown us, the impact of our work lasts lifetimes and beyond.”
Other large gifts, like an anonymous $212,000 donation to establish an endowed scholarship for students with a demonstrated financial need, powered a summer of intensive fundraising that generating almost $1 million in new donations to the university. Additional endowed scholarships ranged from a $31,000 gift to support students majoring in history, established by retired FVSU professor Dr. Jean Wacaster in honor of her late husband Mr. Arthur J. Wacaster, to a $25,000 gift for students majoring in plant science with a concentration in environmental soil science established by the Georgia Coastal Soil and Water Conservation District.
“Fort Valley State University provides a pipeline of trained workers who understand our mission to encourage the conservation of state natural resources that are the basis of economic growth and prosperity,” said Georgia Coastal Soil and Water Conservation District supervisor Charles Warnell, Jr.
The success of the fundraising push has been to focus on matching the interests of donors with the unique capabilities of Fort Valley State University, according to Anthony Holloman, vice president of university advancement.
“Fort Valley State University can use education to make a difference in the lives of students like no other school can in a range of fields where our students develop unparalleled expertise,” said Holloman. “When we help donors make the connection between their support, the opportunities they make possible for talented students, and the legacy they can establish of benefit to all mankind, the power of their investment in the institution and its educational experience comes into full view for them.”
Holloman adds that the university will add an increased focus on planned gifts to its fundraising priorities to enable donors to make larger gifts.