Presidential Highlights

Selected Accomplishments at Fort Valley State University
President Larry E. Rivers and First Lady Betty H. Rivers and the FVSU Family



  • Dr. and Mrs. Larry E. Rivers began a scholarship fundraising initiative with $100,000 donation
  • Communiversity concept embraced to strengthen the university’s ties with the community through service and collaborative programs
  • Warner Robins Center reopened after having been closed in 2005
  • Wildcat Force Student Recruitment Team initiated. President and First Lady Rivers traveled with the Wildcat Force Performing Group to high schools around the state for seven years
  • Valley Times faculty, staff, student, and alumni newsletter initiated
  • FVSU student newspaper, The Peachite, re-instituted
  • New student residential housing complex with 951 beds commenced (Wildcat Commons, phases I and II)
  • President’s Trailblazers Awards for “Outstanding Service to the University and Community” introduced
  • FVSU received $763,000 grant from the United States Department of Interior, along with $300,000 from the Board of Regents, to initiate renovation and stabilization of historic Huntington Hall, at that time shuttered for approximately two decades
  • FVSU enrollment stabilized after multi-year decline
  • Inaugural forum for college women launched—Sip-N-Chat with First Lady Betty Rivers and Friends—and continued each semester. Fourteen subsequent forums empowered, nurtured, and educated students through the presentation of popular topics and tips
  • Fort Valley State University, City of Fort Valley and Peach County formed State University Drive Corridor Improvement Zone partnership
  • Rayfield Wright Street dedicated in honor of Fort Valley State University alumnus, NFL Hall of Fame and Dallas Cowboy Legend Larry Rayfield Wright
  • Fort Valley State University National Alumni Hall of Fame reactivated and relocated to Henry Alexander Hunt Memorial Library
  • FVSU hosted first legislative luncheon for Georgia state representatives and lawmakers
  • Centennial Monument (Wildcat Statue) erected and dedicated at Homecoming
  • First Lady Betty Rivers served on Mayor’s Housing Task Force and as a member of the Rebuilding Together Housing Committee; membership maintained for seven years
  • First Lady Betty Rivers established partnership with the Museum of Aviation to host free tours for Boys and Girls Club of Georgia Heartlands’ summer camp participants: later assisted the museum with its popular fundraiser—car, truck, and bike show


  • Fort Valley State University executed agreements with Central Georgia Technical College and Middle Georgia Technical College as the first of many agreements aimed at ensuring a smooth transition for students matriculating from technical schools to the university
  • FVSU cited as one of the “Best Places to Work in Georgia” by Georgia Trend magazine
  • FVSU established first President’s Research Mini-Grants to provide every full-time faculty member with opportunity to enhance academic credentials toward tenure and otherwise to advance the university’s scholarly mission
  • FVSU established first Office of Sponsored Programs Grant Award Cost Sharing Initiative in an effort to acknowledge and reward principal investigators and the departments in which they serve for outstanding abilities to secure grants and contracts
  • Larry E. Rivers received Citizen of the Year Award from the Peach County Chamber of Commerce
  • Artistic representation of the Founders Hall Clock Tower installed by Fort Valley Mayor John Stumbo and dedicated at the entrance of State University Drive
  • First Lady Betty Rivers accepted board membership with Peach County Chamber of Commerce and served two three-year terms
  • FVSU Endowment recorded an increase of 20 percent over the previous fiscal year
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture allocated $2.5 million for construction of new Family Development Center
  • More than 300 entrepreneurs representing area Chambers of Commerce networked at FVSU for the first Business After Hours event led by First Lady Betty Rivers. Since 2007, Mrs. Rivers served as hostess.
  • Inaugural Wheels in the Valley: Car, Truck and Motorcycle Show held at FVSU, assisted by the Museum of Aviation, attracting hundreds of spectators
  • Fall 2007 enrollment increased to 2,542 from 1,976 in 2006, with a historic high freshmen enrollment—an increase of more than 17%, the largest in the University System of Georgia
  • FVSU’s $5.5 million Educational and General deficits for the 2004-05 and 2005-06 academic years were eliminated with a balanced budget in 2006-07. Every year thereafter, FVSU successfully balanced its budget
  • Electronic Engineering Program received renewed Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Inc. (ABET) accreditation
  • Dr. Larry E. Rivers, First Lady Betty Rivers, Dr. Anne Gayles Felton, Rep. Calvin Smyre and Dr. and Mrs. Keith McRae inducted into FVSU’s 1895 Pioneer Society for individual contributions of $100,000 to the university
  • FVSU Cooperative Developmental Energy Program (CDEP) executed a memo of understanding with Zoo Atlanta
  • $44 million Wildcat Commons (Phase I and II), a 951-bed student residential complex opened Fall 2007
  • $19 million state-of-the art SMART Classroom and Laboratory Building launched, October 2007
  • Newly constructed Head Start Center opened in Vienna, GA
  • Dr. Larry E. Rivers, Dr. Ozias Pearson, Mr. Paul L. Thompkins and Mr. Robert William White inducted into FVSU’s Alumni Hall of Fame


  • The Hendricks House, originally built in 1917, was restored and opened as the Agricultural Technology Conference Center
  • Dr. Judy Carter, dean of the College of Education, and staff achieved reactivation and reaccreditation of the College of Education’s teacher educator program by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE)
  • Five fully online programs approved by the Board of Regents: B.A. in Criminal Justice (a University System of Georgia Academic Franchise), Political Science, Psychology and Technical and Professional Writing; and M.S. in Rehabilitation Counseling and Case Management
  • The Board of Regents also approved off-site programs in criminal justice (Atlanta and Forsyth), business administration, social work, computer science and computer information systems (Warner Robins)
  • FVSU Concert Choir, Concert Band and Jazz Band performed at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C.
  • President Rivers named one of Georgia Trend magazine’s “100 Most Influential Georgians in January” 2008
  • FVSU installed the first commemorative benches and the Wall of Honor to support the university’s endowment efforts
  • Groundbreaking ceremony held for $16 million Wildcat Commons Housing Complex, Phase III on August 1
  • Fort Valley State University’s fall enrollment reached another historic high with a total enrollment of 3,055 students
  • FVSU’s music department invited to perform in China
  • President Rivers’ editorial entitled, “Are Black Universities Necessary?” appeared in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and his commentary aired on Georgia Public Radio, a statewide broadcast aired on 17 radio stations and reached more than 200,000 weekly listeners
  • FVSU purchased downtown facility, and after renovation, opened a new Fine Arts Gallery and Studio
  • Through a Housing and Urban Development grant, the university purchased thirteen dilapidated houses on State University Drive and with the city’s assistance, demolished them. Also working with Mayor John Stumbo and members of the City Council, the City of Fort Valley demolished an additional thirty-seven substandard/ dilapidated homes for a total of fifty. This effort improved the overall aesthetics of State University Drive


  • FVSU earned the #21 spot among historically black colleges and universities in the 2010 edition of America’s Best Colleges by U.S. News Media Group
  • FVSU Concert Choir performed during Regents’ Salute to Excellence in Education Gala
  • The completion and grand opening of the Wildcat Commons (Phase III), a $16-million 365 bed facility
  • The fall 2009 enrollment reached another historic high of 3,503, up from the 1,976 spring 2006 enrollment
  • A new $9 million Football stadium opened in August to kick off the Wildcat football season
  • FVSU Camellia Garden dedicated to honor First Lady Betty Rivers and her namesake Camellia, First Lady Bettyjean. The Camellia Scholarship Fund opened with proceeds from the inaugural Tea @ Noon In June and commemorative products which included, among other items, bricks and benches. These initiatives generated over $200,000 to provide FVSU students with much needed financial assistance
  • New College of Education programs initiated: Agriculture Education 6-12, Special Education General Curriculum/Early Childhood Education P-5, Middle Grades Education 4-8 and School Counselor Education
  • Online bachelor’s degree programs initiated in political science, psychology and English (technical English and professional writing) and off-site programs in criminal justice, business administration and an on-line criminal justice franchise
  • Minority Access, a groundbreaking educational advocacy and non-profit organization dedicated to promoting diversity on college campuses and work sites nationwide, honored Dr. Larry E. Rivers as the 2009 Role Model President during its 10th annual banquet in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 13
  • FVSU initiated the webcasting of animal surgeries on the university website
  • Dedication of Henry Alexander and Florence Johnson Hunt Memorial Statues at Wildcat Commons
  • The opening of the SAFE Center – State Animal Facility for Emergencies- initially funded with $750,000 from the state of Georgia; the facility houses large and small animals during natural and man-made disasters
  • Larry E. Rivers receives Outstanding Service Award from the National Park System Advisory Board and Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne


  • President Larry E. Rivers, First Lady Betty Rivers, Dr. Mark Latimore and Mr. Chris Daniel unveiled 74 commemorative bricks as a fundraiser at Blossoms in the Valley – The Betty H. Rivers Camellia Garden
  • FVSU featured in the spring issue of The Camellia Journal, “Whirlwind Trip for new International Camellia Society President”
  • 2010 spring enrollment reached another historic high of 3,728 students
  • Fort Valley State University works with Peach County Commission to rename University Boulevard to Ira Hicks Boulevard, after FVSU renown educator and administrator, Dr. Ira Hicks
  • The Fort Valley State University holds exhibition at the Tubman African-American Museum from April 16-July 3 to showcase the university’s history. The five-part show—coordinated by the late Berry Jordan, First Lady Betty Rivers, faculty and students— highlighted FVSU’s evolution from a small industrial school to a sprawling land-grant state university
  • A ribbon cutting ceremony held on August 25 signaled the official opening of the Academic Classroom and Laboratory Building
  • The Student Amenities Building celebrated its official grand opening on Aug. 11. The 28,000 square foot facility houses two new restaurants – Quizno’s Subs and the first Chick-fil-A restaurant on a Georgia HBCU campus
  • First Lady Betty Rivers hosted “Hall Talk” in residence halls to cover an array of topics to promote team spirit, peer-to-peer communication skills, FVSU history, academic excellence and other pertinent topics, which continued in subsequent years
  • Fort Valley State University’s fall enrollment skyrocketed to the largest number in the institution’s 115 year history to 3,843 new students
  • The Fort Valley State University National Alumni Association, Inc. inducted First Lady Betty Rivers, Asa Boynton, and Charles Robinson into its Hall of Fame
  • Fort Valley State University earned the 25th spot among “Best Black Colleges” in the 2011 edition of America’s Best Colleges by U.S. News Media Group
  • Georgia Trend magazine, celebrating its 25th anniversary in the September issue, named Larry E. Rivers to its list of the Top 25 Leaders in Georgia
  • Larry E. Rivers selected as “One of Georgia’s Most Notable,” by Georgia Trend magazine
  • Larry E. Rivers receives “Proclamation of Honor for Outstanding Leadership,” by City of Fort Valley, Georgia
  • Macon’s Tubman African American Museum appointed First Lady Betty Rivers as a board member. Mayor John Stumbo also named First Lady Betty Rivers as chair of the Community Foundation Board of Fort Valley
  • With assistance from Mayor John Stumbo and City Council members, a $1.5 million grant was obtained from the U. S. Department of Transportation to allow for continuation of the streetscape and beautification initiative on the main thoroughfare leading to the FVSU campus. A request for funding was submitted by the Middle Georgia Regional Commission, under USDOT’s TIGER II program and approved


  • Fort Valley State University reached its highest number of enrollees ever during the Rivers administration with a fall 2011 enrollment of 3,895 students
  • Fort Valley State University celebrates 10-year reaffirmation of accreditation by Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS)
  • Fort Valley State University, the only 1890 land-grant institution, was selected to participate in the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI in Georgia) Competitive Grants program at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. As a first-time recipient, the university received nearly $1 million from the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture agency to research energy crops for the next five years
  • A donation of $1.5 million presented by Congressman Sanford Bishop’s district director Kenneth J. Cutts on behalf of President Obama, the U.S. Department of Defense and Bishop, benefits STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) students who are CDEP participants. This donation represented the highest amount awarded to CDEP in 28 years
  • This first-ever issue of the Fort Valley State University Agriculture Research Report provides a glimpse of the compelling research conducted and presented by the faculty and administrators at conferences, workshops and symposiums throughout the world
  • Master’s degree program in history approved by the BOR in the Department of History, Geography, Political Science and Criminal Justice. Three concentration tracks: general history (available for public school teachers), African-American history and military history. The program offers a thesis and a non-thesis option for applicants
  • Fort Valley State University ranked #9 among the “Best Public Colleges and Universities” in the south on the 2012 Best Colleges list published by U.S. News and World Report
  • FVSU ranked fifth in the University System of Georgia (behind Georgia Tech, Georgia Regents University, University of Georgia, and Georgia State) and first among regional and comprehensive universities in garnering sponsored research dollars as of June 30, 2011. These funds totaled $17.7 million in annual awards and $37 million in multi-year awards for federal, state and local contracts
  • Extensive renovations of historic Huntington and Ohio halls began


  • Annual fundraising increased from $500,000 in 2006 to $1.5 million annually in 2013
  • Foundation Endowment increased from $3 million in 2006 to $7.3million in 2013
  • FVSU Fiscal Management stronger with seven years of balanced budgets and unqualified audits
  • To encourage faculty research and writing, Rivers researched and published two books, and seven refereed articles over a seven-year period
  • FVSU continues to rank fifth among the University System of Georgia’s research universities, and first among regional and comprehensive universities in garnering sponsored research dollars. From 67 proposals funded in 2006 ($7.9 million in annual funding, and $21.9 million in multi-year funding to 101 proposals funded in 2013 ($18.5 million in annual funding, and $45.6 million in multi-year funding)
  • Won 2013 Preservation Award from The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation for excellence in restoring historic Huntington Hall
  • The Joseph Adkins Players, First Lady Betty Rivers and television/film actress Karan Kendrick produced the Broadway play “Crowns” at Fort Valley’s historic Austin Theater and at FVSU’s C. W. Pettigrew Farm and Community Life Center
  • Renovation of Bishop Hall Building initiated for communications majors
  • Along with NCATE accreditation, the College of Education receives second accreditation by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
  • Larry E. Rivers received “2013 Jillian Prescott Memorial Award,” for outstanding research by the Florida Historical Society
  • Larry E. Rivers received Harry T. and Harriette V. Moore Award from the Florida Historical Society, for outstanding research for book entitled Rebels and Runaways: Slave Resistance in 19th Century Florida
  • Larry E. Rivers received bronze medal award for book entitled Rebels and Runaways from the State of Florida Book Award Committee
  • Refinancing of Wildcat Commons, Phase II, received a S&P rating of A+
  • FVSU received 100% Land Grant State Match ($5.6 million)
  • First East Region SIAC Football Championship in eleven years
  • Graduation rates improved from 29 percent to 34 percent
  • Merged several academic programs to increase efficiency in the delivery of services to students and improve faculty resource availability
  • Continuing Education Program re-instituted in Warner Robins, with Addiction Counselor Certification classes, Summer Kids University, personal and professional enhancement classes, and online professional certificates from Ed2Go and Gatlin Education
  • Adult Learning Initiative, including adoption of a Prior Learning Assessment policy and process
  • Military Outreach Initiative, including Service Members Opportunities Colleges (SOC) membership since 2010 with acceptance of credit from military transcripts and CLEP as recommended by the American Council on Education (ACE) guide
  • University established the first FVSU Research and Service Corporation to enhance academic research and global exchanges
  • Fort Valley State University ranked 116 out of 160 schools by 2013 U.S. News and World Report for “Best Online Programs”
  • FVSU implemented Desire2Learn Learning Management System as platform for online instruction
  • Campus fiber-optic network is completely replaced with state-of-the-art technology
  • FVSU implemented campus-wide wireless capability
  • Campus classrooms equipped with pioneering SMART technology, including smartboards
  • University installs new, up-to-date, campus email system
  • Fort Valley State University moves up four places from 31st to 27th among HBCUs by 2013 U.S. News and World Report
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