Friday, May 23, 2014

Wildcat Dreams - Vol. 1, No. 14

Friday, May 23, 2014 • Vol. 1, No.14

Wildcat Dreams is Fort Valley State University President Ivelaw Lloyd Griffith’s triweekly e-newsletter. As an additional resource to stay connected to FVSU, Wildcat Dreams highlights various campus activities and updates about new initiatives and programs. Readers are encouraged to share with friends and family. We welcome your feedback. Please send comments to Thank you and happy reading!

Read more news on the FVSU Review. 


Evette M. Jones, a 1993 graduate of Fort Valley State University’s College of Agriculture, Family Sciences and Technology, is the first African-American woman to head the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Georgia Area One office.  

FVSU Alumni Spotlight: Alumna named first African-American female to head USDA Area One office in Georgia

A Fort Valley State University alumna recently received a historic appointment in the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Evette M. Jones, a 1993 agricultural economics graduate, is the first African-American female appointed director for the USDA’s Rural Development Area One Georgia office. Jones’ service area is comprised of more than 25 counties in northwest Georgia. Through this role, she will ensure the administration of federal programs, oversee loans and grants for rural areas and provide leadership for comprehensive rural development programs.

“It’s a huge honor, but I know it’s also a huge responsibility,” Jones said, referring to her new position. She said she is up to the task, but is open to learning more.

Read more here.

Some FVSU Spring Plant Science graduates.

FVSU alum and State University of New York-Albany president Robert J. Jones addresses the crowd at the 2014 Spring Commencement

FVSU graduates shine at 73rd annual Spring Commencement

Fort Valley State University Dr. Robert J. Jones is an alum who is dreaming and doing. Four decades ago, Jones started his journey on the FVSU campus. The scholar studied hard, eventually earning his bachelor's degree in agronomy in 1973.

Fast forward to 2014, Jones is now the new president of one of the largest public universities in the country, State University of New York-Albany.

On Saturday, May 3, Jones returned to his Georgia alma mater to share advice and his life's journey with graduates during FVSU's 73rd annual Spring Commencement. Held in the Health and Physical Education Complex, the event was the crowning achievement for 316 students who participated in the morning ceremony, including 48 with graduate degrees.

"Fort Valley State prepared me for my life journey, and I never imagined where I would end up," said Jones, who is a former member of the Grammy-award-winning gospel group, The Sounds of Blackness.

Read more here.

FVSU revs up excitement with Wheels in the Valley Car, Truck and Motorcycle Show 

Car lovers and motorcycle enthusiasts showcased their hottest rides to compete for bragging rights and prizes at the Wheels in the Valley Car, Truck and Motorcycle Show recently held in the Wildcat Stadium parking lot.
At this year’s car show there were two top winners. Best of Show for the Original Car category went to James Collier from Atlanta, Ga. for his 1932 Chevrolet. Joe Tuckey, from Tallahassee, Fla. received Best of Show Modified for his 1957 Chevy Bel Air.
"I think it was a success this year, even though we had less attendance this year, due to a larger show sponsored by Summit in Atlanta,” Keese said. “It was a two-day show in Atlanta, and it had some impact on our show, and car shows in the area."

Read more here.

RaShawndra Strozier graduated from Fort Valley State debt free.

Fort Valley State student graduates debt free 

When college students across the nation graduate, seven in 10 will leave with an average debt of $29,400 per borrower; however, 22-year-old criminal justice student, RaShawndra Strozier, is the exception. The Fort Valley State University student graduated on Saturday, May 3, debt-free.

When compared with undergraduates from other institutions, Strozier, like other FVSU students, graduated with lower levels of debt than students at most other institutions. Last year, the Project on Student Debt named FVSU as one of the top ten schools whose students graduated with the lowest levels of debt in the nation. On average, FVSU students graduate with an average balance of $8,263.

Read more here.

FVSU alumna Carolyn Pitts turned 100 on May 8

FVSU centenarian receives special visit from university president

Fort Valley State University president Dr. Ivelaw Lloyd Griffith recently made a surprise visit to a Wildcat alum celebrating a major milestone. Carolyn Pitts, a retired educator and FVSU graduate, celebrated her 100th birthday on May 8, 2014. Dr. Griffith and FVSU staff delivered hugs, warm wishes and presents that included an FVSU blanket, flowers, a balloon and other gifts.

 To see a special video, click here.

FVSU takes "Dreaming and Doing" to the airways with new radio show

Keeping up with the latest news and events related to Fort Valley State University, as well as the surrounding communities, is now only a dial away. FVSU has launched a new radio show called "Living in the Valley." The new radio program will provide a unique overview about key figures, campus happenings, news makers and other interesting tidbits.

The half-hour show airs at 8 a.m. Sundays on WIBB’s 1280 AM radio station. The host is Leslie Harriell-Turner. The next show will feature Dr. Ivelaw Lloyd Griffith who will speak about his key initiatives and fundraising goals for campus.

FVSU’s new radio show will not only feature FVSU administrators, faculty and students, it will also highlight significant news makers and influential figures from around the Middle Georgia region and state.

To listen to the first episode of "Living in the Valley," which featured Calandra Wright, FVSU's Assistant Director of Admissions, visit
For details, call Marketing and Communications at (478) 822-7589.

Members of the Class of 1964 present a $70,000 check to Dr. Melody Carter, vice president of External Affairs(far left).

1964 alumni class makes record-setting donation to Fort Valley State University

The Fort Valley State University Class of 1964 recently made a record-setting donation of $70,000 as part of its 50-year reunion and celebration.

Tommy McMullins, a member of the FVSU Golden Class of 1964 and the group’s fundraising chair, said he hopes the gift, presented on May 2, inspires other alums to give back to Fort Valley State.

“We understand that there is a great need for student scholarships and support of the university and we wanted to set an example and as alumni, someone has to step up to the plate and hopefully we did,” said McMullins of Alta Dena, California. “If $70,000 is the largest gift then that means something. It means that it’s going to challenge other classes to do similarly and if they do, then we’ll come back and beat them.”

Read more here.

FVSU administrators pull the ribbon to unveil the latest Walls of Wisdom in the Health and Physical Education Complex.

Second inspirational wall unveiled in HPE Complex

Fort Valley State University recently unveiled the second inspirational wall on campus designed to inspire and inform passersby of great thinkers and doers.

The second Wall of Wisdom is located in the Health and Physical Education Complex and features posters of prominent figures, such as Muhammad Ali and David Beckham, that have motivated others.

The ceremony was held on May 1 and was presided over by LuWanna Williams, FVSU’s associate director of athletics. During the event, the university’s Department of Athletics staff also read quotes from their favorite dreamers and doers.

Read more here.

FVSU student Brittaney Carter wows during a performance at Fort Valley's Austin Theater.

Hollywood actress pays for summer cultural engagement for Wildcat student

Visitors to New York City may soon see a Fort Valley State University Wildcat headlining on Broadway.

Fort Valley native Karan Kendrick, an actress who starred in movies The Hunger Games and Madea Goes to Jail, is sending FVSU student Brittaney Carter on an all-expense paid summer cultural engagement in New York City, N.Y. The actress also will secure an apartment for the young student for a month. Kendrick has hired a manager for Carter who will help arrange Broadway auditions for the actress. Carter will leave for her one-month excursion on August 1, 2014.

Read more here.

Alyssa Turner, a junior veterinary technology student from Baltimore, Md., escorts a pet to Fort Valley State University’s State Animal Facilities for Emergencies (SAFE) Center during the HURREX exercise May 6.

FVSU participates in statewide hurricane preparedness exercise

In preparation for the upcoming season, the Georgia Emergency Management Agency recently conducted a statewide hurricane evacuation simulation known as HURREX (Hurricane Exercise). Fort Valley State University’s State Animal Facilities for Emergencies Center and Health and Physical Education Complex served as temporary shelters for hurricane evacuees and their pets. The SAFE Center, the only facility of its kind in the U.S., can house 105 dogs, 80 cats and 30 horses.

Dr. George McCommon, director of the SAFE Center and FVSU’s interim department head of veterinary science and public health, said the facility was more than ready for the volume of animals processed during the drill. During the simulation, FVSU veterinary technology students, acting as 26 displaced families, housed more than 42 animals.

Read more here.

FVSU Blue and Gold goes Green to reduce energy costs

Fort Valley State University is looking for ways to conserve energy, reduce its carbon footprint and cut its energy bill with a new environmental campaign called the FVSU Blue and Gold goes Green initiative.

The goal of the program is to increase environmentally sustainable actions and behaviors among students, faculty and staff through energy conservation, and to cut the university’s energy costs.

Read more here.

Dr. Babacar M'Bow lectures on the impact of the African diaspora on modern art.

Florida curator describes Africa’s impact on art during

John W. Davison lecture series

Fort Valley State University students were recently treated to a night of cultural engagement that showcased the influence of African culture upon art from around the world.

Dr. Babacar M’Bow, then curator of the Multitudes Contemporary Art Gallery in Miami, Fla., gave the lecture attendees an in-depth history on the African diaspora’s impact on art during the John W. Davison lecture series.

 Read more here.

The Office of Sponsored Programs recently honored FVSU grant writers during a special ceremony.

FVSU’s Office of Sponsored Programs honors grant writers during
recognition ceremony

Fort Valley State University recently honored campus grant writers whose skill and drive helped secure funding to support research programs on campus. The university’s Office of Sponsored Programs held its Spring Training Recognition Program in the C. W. Pettigrew Center. Grant writers were treated to lunch, and top grant writers were awarded statues and certificates. Joyce Y. Johnson, FVSU’s Post Awards Coordinator, presided.

Read more here.

FVSU students recently visited commercial broadcast stations and colleges in New Orleans
during an annual trip.

FVSU Broadcasters Club visits commercial broadcast stations in New Orleans

Fort Valley State University’s Broadcasters Club recently visited New Orleans as part of its annual trip designed to expose the students to professional media career opportunities.

In addition to visiting several commercial radio and television stations during the April 30-May 1 trip, the group also managed to visit a high school in the Big Easy that offers broadcasting as part of its curriculum.

The students had an opportunity to visit the Clear Channel Media and Entertainment studios, WDSU Channel 6, an NBC-affiliate television station owned by the Hearst Corporation, and the St. Charles Satellite Center.
Read more here.

Fort Valley State University’s Cooperative Extension employees Joy Moten-Thomas, (foreground) and Yolanda Surrency help paint the bedroom of a Fort Valley residence for the Rebuilding Together Fort Valley project May 10.

FVSU collaborates with local non-profit to provide free home repairs, renovations

Two Fort Valley residents recently received free home renovations from Fort Valley State University’s Cooperative Extension employees and Rebuilding Together Fort Valley. The FVSU group volunteered their time on May 10 to help the organization refurbish homes.

Rebuilding Together Fort Valley is a local affiliate of Rebuilding Together, a non-profit organization that provides needed repairs and renovations for low-income homeowners.

Read more here.


Fort Valley State University holds annual basketball camp for children

Fort Valley State University Wildcats Head Men's Basketball Coach Sammie Jackson will hold his yearly basketball camp for six to 17-year old students Wednesday, June 4 – 6, at  the university's Health & Physical Education Complex.

The camp fee is $75, which will includes lunch, a camp T-shirt, awards, prizes and certificates of completion. The registration deadline for the camp is Monday, June 2, 2014.

Learn more here.

A student athlete receives his award during the 2014 All Sports Banquet.

Fort Valley State Athletic Department holds All-Sports Banquet

The Fort Valley State University Athletic Department recently held its All-Sports Banquet in the Health and Physical Education Complex.

The Wildcats' top players were: Haduyah Walker, (softball) Most Valuable Player; Brandon Baker, (Football) Top Academic; Megan Archie, (Volleyball) Most Valuable Player; Tanikia Johnson, (Cross Country) Women's Most Valuable Player; Douglas Jackson, (Cross Country) Men's Most Valuable Player; Brandon Davey, (Men's Basketball) Most Valuable Player; Shytina Harley, (Women's Basketball) Most Valuable Player; Niama Simkins, (Tennis) Women's Most Valuable Player; and Ralph Kelley (Tennis) Men's Most Valuable Player.

For a full list of winners, read more here.

FVSU to host 5th Annual Lomax-Porter Golf Tournament

Middle Georgia golf enthusiasts will tee off during a tournament fundraiser that supports Fort Valley State University's football program. Fort Valley State University Head Football Coach Donald Pittman and the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics will host the 5th Annual Lomax-Porter Golf Tournament on Saturday, June 7, 2014 at the Cherokee Pines Golf and Fitness Club in Perry, Ga.

For a registration form and details, visit You also may call the FVSU Foundation, Inc., at (478) 825-6474.

Read more here.

A student completes a heat at the 2014 SIAC Track & Field Championship.

FVSU Track & Field Members Compete in 4X100 Meter Relay Finals

The Fort Valley State University Women's & Men's Track & Field teams recently paid a visit to the campus of Winthrop University, in Rock Hill, South Carolina, the site of the 2014 SIAC Track & Field Championship.

On the first day of the SIAC championship, FVSU seniors Sarah McClendon and Portia Wilson, junior Raven Wilson and freshman Jakasha Nelson (who are members of the 4x100- meter relay team) made the finals. The group finished in second place in Heat 1 Preliminaries with a time of 48.6.

Read more here.

Deron Furr was one of three students to get invites to an NFL mini camp.

FVSU football standout signs with Kansas City Chiefs

Congratulations are in order for DeRon Furr, a FVSU football player, who recently signed a rookie free-agent contract with the Kansas City Chiefs after being invited to attend the team's pro mini camp.

 Furr was one of three FVSU Wildcats to get invites to NFL mini camps. Others included Thomas Wolfe and Ryan Riggins.

Defensive back Thomas "Trey" Wolfe from Marietta, Georgia attended camp May 15-18 for the Seattle Seahawks to seek a contract. Wolfe led the Wildcats and SIAC with 8 interceptions. He is second in punt returns.

Riggins was an offensive tackle last season for Fort Valley State. The 6-foot-7, 315-pound player is from Houston, Texas.

Last season at Fort Valley State, Furr had 60 tackles (35 solo tackles and 25 assists) from his safety position. He also had 11.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks.

Read more here.

Portia Wilson

Portia Wilson a standout at SIAC Track and Field Championship

Fort Valley State University senior Portia Wilson from Carrollton, Georgia, who is a runner on the 2014 Women's Track and Field Team, excelled recently on the campus of Winthrop University during the 2014 SIAC Track and Field Championships.

Wilson finished third in the women's 100-meter dash with a time of 12.03. The competitor earned a fourth-place finish in the preliminaries run earlier where she earned a 12.08 time. She finished behind Benedict's Chamekea Davis (11.57) and Albany State's Lanequa Bonders (11.93).

Read more here here.