FVSU Celebrates the Life and Legacy of Thomas W. Dortch ’72, past President of the FVSU National Alumni Association

Feb. 16, 2023
Fort Valley State University is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of our distinguished alumnus, Mr. Thomas W. Dortch Jr.
Dortch, an author, entrepreneur, and community activist is the National Chairman of 100 Black Men of America, Inc. and Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of TWD, Inc.
Dortch was born in tiny Toccoa, Georgia, 50 miles from Athens. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology and Pre-Professional Social Work from Fort Valley State College (FVSC) in 1972. While a student at FVSC, Dortch served as SGA President. During his time, he registered 94% of students to vote. That is a testament to the type of leader he was, even at a young age. Dortch has credited Fort Valley State for giving him a foundation that allowed him to soar to new levels.
Just two years after leaving FVSC, he was associate director of the Georgia Democratic Party and eventually became the first African American state director for a U.S. Senator (Sam Nunn). He received a U.S. Presidential Citation for Volunteerism, the Martin Luther King Jr. Distinguished Service Award, the Turner Broadcasting Trumpet Leadership Award, the 100 Black Men of America Man of The Decade Award, and The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 2004 Distinguished Phoenix Award.
He received a Master of Arts degree in Criminal Justice Administration from Clark-Atlanta University in 1986. Dortch became civically active during these years and, in 1986, joined 100 Black Men of America, a mentoring program intended to improve the quality of life and opportunities for education and employment for African Americans. He served as chairman of 100 Black Men of Atlanta and became the chairman of 100 Black Men of America’s national board of directors. That same year, he married Carole Dortch. He also founded the National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame.
He attended Georgia State University as a Ford Fellow in the Urban Administration Program. Dortch received honorary doctorate degrees from Fayetteville State University, Jarvis Christian College, Fort Valley State University, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, and Livingstone College.
Dortch is the recipient of numerous awards and honors that celebrate his efforts. A partial list includes Atlanta Business Chronicle’s 2022 Leaders in Corporate Citizens Ann Cramer Lifetime Achievement Award; listed in editions of Ebony Magazine as one of The 100 Most Influential African Americans; listed in the Atlanta Business Chronicle as one of The 100 Most Influential Atlantans. He has sat on a host of boards of directors, including current roles on the boards of Clark Atlanta University and Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University.
His passing is a significant loss not only to our university community but to the state of Georgia and the nation as a whole.
“The Wildcat Family mourns the loss of Mr. Thomas W. Dortch Jr.,” said FVSU President Paul Jones. “Our Wildcat family will forever be appreciative of the time that Mr. Dortch spent with us and the impact that he had on our institution. We are pleased that his name is a permanent part of our university’s history and legacy, as the Bishop Hall Ballroom was recently named in his honor to inspire future generations of FVSU students to learn and retell the story of Mr. Dortch’s contributions to our light in the valley. He was not only a tremendous supporter of FVSU but an innovator and game-changer that has made a lasting impact on this University, state and nation. He will be greatly missed, and I am confident his legacy will live on.”
Since graduating from FVSU, Dortch has been a champion for FVSU and other HBCUs and has brought exceptional recognition to the university and HBCU community. He also served as a past president of the FVSU National Alumni Association, Inc., from 1986-1990.
During his naming ceremony of the ballroom in Bishop Hall, there was a quote shared, “Real leaders don’t seek followers, they inspire them,” and Thomas W. Dortch Jr. has indeed been an inspiration to all. The Thomas W. Dortch Jr., Distinguished Lecture series was announced during the ceremony. The annual speaker series will feature high-profile, successful leaders in various industries, with the inaugural lecture Monday, February 20, 2023, featuring Bakari Sellers, a CNN analyst and bestselling author.
A man of excellence; there are so many contributions and accomplishments we could list. Thomas W. Dortch Jr. – an icon, trailblazer, servant leader, mentor and friend. He will truly be missed.
We extend our sincere condolences and heartfelt sympathy to his family and friends. Currently, two of his grandchildren are students at FVSU.
President Jones has ordered the university’s flags to be lowered to half-staff beginning today in honor of Dortch’s memory.
Details of the funeral arrangements will be forthcoming. To leave a memory or message for the family, click here.