Fort Valley State University and Utah State University signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) establishing a framework for the two land-grant institutions to collaborate and cooperate on activities of mutual interest. The universities announced the five-year agreement formally on Oct. 28.
The MOU specifically furthers the development of research collaboration, educational program development, student support, and involvement services, and to maintain and promote channels of cooperation and communication, promote faculty and student exchanges, collaborative training of students, and undertake joint or collaborative research, training, and outreach or public education.
The agreement comes after previous collaborations between USU and FVSU, an HBCU (historically Black college and university). A contingent of leaders from FVSU, located in Fort Valley, Georgia, visited USU’s Logan campus in April 2022. USU leadership subsequently visited the FVSU campus in May. During the summer 2022 semester, three students from FVSU visited Logan to participate in a research internship program at USU’s College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences.
Fort Valley State University President Paul Jones, Ph.D., a USU alumnus, welcomed the partnership.
“I am ecstatic to have two institutions I love and cherish working together to advance opportunities that will have a positive impact on students, research, and training,” Jones said. “The partnership between Fort Valley State University and Utah State University demonstrates the power of collaboration and will serve as a model for land-grant and other universities to follow.”
Along with being a former USU Aggies two-sport athlete, competing in both football and track and field, President Jones graduated with a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from USU. Additionally, his wife, Sylvia Jones, is a graduate of USU. The two met and married as students at the university. Both were honored as USU Alumni of the Year in 2012. Both Jones’ children are USU alumni, with their son Isaiah working for USU as the orientation and family program coordinator.
“Utah State University is excited to collaborate with Fort Valley State University as we formalize this agreement,” said USU President Noelle E. Cockett. “Our universities share many of the same research interests and educational goals, as well as our experience as land-grant institutions for our respective states. We anticipate this being a very fruitful and rewarding relationship, with both institutions reaping benefits.”
The universities began considering the opportunity to partner after President Jones spoke with Tyrone Couey, president of the National Historically Black Colleges & Universities Alumni Association Foundation. Couey, a former USU alum himself, suggested the two universities might make great partners. USU leaders also wanted to connect with an HBCU, and President Cockett subsequently reached out to President Jones.
“We have already seen evidence of this partnership becoming a great model for other land-grant institutions to emulate,” said Govind Kannan, Ph.D., FVSU vice president for economic development and land-grant affairs. “I feel it is imperative that 1890 and 1862 institutions work together in providing a holistic learning experience for students and better preparing them for the real world.”
“As an institution, we have much to learn in partnering with an HBCU that is focused on teaching, learning and quality education,” said Robert Wagner, USU executive vice president. “We have some commonalities, but we also anticipate being able to learn from their experience and better meet the needs of our state and the USU student population.”