Wednesday, August 27, 2008

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Financial aid maze, part II

The economy is forcing parents of college students to find ways to pay for tuition, books and housing. FVSU’s marketing and communications office scans Web sites daily looking for information to help our students and their parents. Shonda Lewis came across an ABC news online story about scholarship competitions which fund awards for women and students of color, but aren’t well publicized. Visit and Apparently, the founders of the site don’t advertise. Information about it is traveling by word-of-mouth. A free scholarship search site will be launched January, 2009. Lewis is a member of She received an email about scholarships for working moms. HBCU Connect partners with to offer information.

Students and parents should also visit According the ABC story, the site is the source of $16,000 in scholarships monthly. Through corporate sponsorships, the founders hope to increase that amount to $150,000 a month. Students who have tutoring skills can actually make extra money at another site, The company pays students to help other students with homework. Check our blog for other tidbits of information we receive.

The mother who posted a response to yesterday’s blog about financial aid should contact Dr. Canter Brown at for assistance.

--Vickie Oldham is the director of Marketing and Communications at Fort Valley State University

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Last-minute applications and financial aid heroics

An Atlanta Journal Constitution reporter called me for assistance in identifying students and parents for a story about “drop offs” - students brought to campus to register just before fall semester begins without securing housing, financial aid, or taking any of the necessary steps to begin school on the right foot. For a moment, I wanted no part of this assignment, but as I honed in on the premise, I saw an opportunity to tell the real story behind what HBCUs like FVSU do to usher students into college.

FVSU meets a need that major institutions don’t – one that they don’t have patience to deliver: personal, individualized service to first-generation college students trying to navigate the maze of the financial aid process, most times without the help of parents. This week I’ve seen the patience and true character of the financial aid staff and FVSU family as they walked students from one office to the next, helping them complete FAFSA forms and loan applications.

I talked to freshman Sekema Tannahill, who shared her story. Admittedly she missed the deadlines for filing paperwork and arrived on campus a week before the start of school. Her mother walked the student through the process the first semester but refused to do it the second time around, after she didn’t make acceptable grades.

For every student who dragged his or her feet in submitting verification forms, FAFSAs and the required tax documents from parents, others filed on time. However in some cases, parents didn’t qualify for loans or couldn’t pick up the slack where financial aid left off. Anticipating the money gap, FVSU’s Office of External Affairs, directed by the president, mailed 12,000 letters to alumni asking for donations to help students pay tuition, living expenses and books.

I received a call from a parent trying to reach the financial aid office. Four people live in the household on a meager sum. The mother was making sure she signed all the paperwork to get financial aid for her son, who is now on campus. Attending college is his one-way ticket out of the cycle of poverty.

Scholarship funds from community groups and alumni are trickling in. Flint Energies Foundation gave $5,000. The Peach County Development Authority wrote a check for $8,000. Zellner’s Chapel, a small, under-50-member church located across from the campus’s main entrance donated $24,000 to help students like this.

From showing students how to properly fill out forms and offering advice about classes to digging, scratching, fighting and finagling for scholarship funds, I am amazed at the miracles worked every day on this campus to get students into school. I have a renewed appreciation for FVSU as it seeks to fulfill its mission.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution decided not to go ahead with the story. Even so, I’m glad the reporter asked for my help. I got the chance to step away from the hustle and bustle of my office to witness firsthand the nurturing work that occurs in Wildcat Country. Not every student our counselors reach out to help can cut it in college, but for every one who does, God bless ‘em - the effort is well worth it.

Vickie Oldham is Director of Marketing & Communications at Fort Valley State University.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Guest blogger: What's your net worth?

T. Harv Eker, author of "Secrets of the Millionaire Mind," explains that wealthy people understand that net worth is the true measure of wealth, not working income. Four areas determine net worth: income, savings, investments, and simplification.
Income can be classified as working or passive. Working income involves your own time and sweat; passive income is made without you physically working: for example, rental property income. Income enables us to address the other three net worth factors.
Once money is made, we can then save it. Remember, what you keep is more important than what you make.
“Once you’ve begun saving a decent portion of your income, then you can move to the next stage and make your money grow through investing,” says Eker. He explains that wealthy people take the time to educate themselves about investing and investments, while poor-minded people do the opposite.
Simplification is about living below your means. This increases your savings, which then increase the amount for investing.
Think of the four factors of net worth as four tires on a car.
“Poor and most middle-class people play the money game on one wheel only. They believe that the only way to get rich is to earn a lot of money. They don’t understand Parkinson’s Law, which states, ‘Expenses will always rise in direct proportion to income,’” says Eker.
Income alone will never produce wealth. By tracking your net worth, you will increase your wealth.
So how do you calculate your net worth?
“List all your assets, then list all your liabilities—all the money you owe, including credit card debt and mortgages. Your net worth is your total assets minus your total liabilities,” says Barbara O’Neill, PhD, CFP, and author of Saving on a Shoestring: How to Cut Expenses, Reduce Debt, Stash More Cash.
A net worth statement, listing your assets and liabilities, serves as a prepared financial statement. For instance, it is a good estimate of available emergency money when applying for a loan. Check your net worth every quarter.
“Where attention goes, energy flows, and results show,” says Eker.

--Edward Morrow is a senior business major at Fort Valley State University

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Saggy pants and the law

My girl friends and I were at lunch the other day and we were discussing the new law that was passed by the mayor and the Warner Robins City Council on Tuesday. The law says thos who wear sagging pants are guilty of indecent exposure. Punishment is no more than $500 and confinement in a county jail for up to 6 months. Sagging pants have been banned from schools, malls, restaurants and now streets. City councilman John Williams said: “They are using those sagging pants to shoplift!” Some people may agree that saggy pants are indecent exposure, others object and feel targeted, specifically the black community.
FVSU President Larry Rivers has voiced his opinion on the matter, and you can hear it on Georgia Public Radio. The Telegraph is running an editorial on the law today.
What do you think? Click on "comments" below to share your opinion. Keep it clean, no name-calling.

--Apple Jones works for the Office of Marketing and Communications at Fort Valley State University

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A student's perspective: Freshman induction

On the evening of the New Wildcat Induction Ceremony, I vividly remember changing outfits at least three times. Upon entering the doors of the HPE Complex, I realized that I was not the only freshman excited about the evening’s events. Once I acquired my seat, I began to feel sorry for the influx of students who arrived later than I, and were instructed to take a seat in the bleachers. However, true to Fort Valley form, the administration and Student Ambassadors came together to get more seats and tables, so that all the students and families could have a place to sit and partake in their meals.
While listening to the various speakers, seeing the enthusiasm of the upperclassmen and the unity of my fellow freshmen, something came over me, and I fell in mad love with the Fort Valley State University. The keynote speaker, Mr. Keith Brown, caught my attention by being clothed in a blue robe and pacing about the floor of the gym during his introduction. Almost simultaneously, he sparked my laughter and woke me up with his dance/rap number to the beat of "Everyday I’m Hustlin’" by rapper Rick Ross. His deep and wise insight, paired with attention grabbing, youth-oriented delivery, vehemently fought his case as perhaps the greatest motivational speaker I have ever encountered. Also, as a minister, I found it very touching that his ending number would be "Never Would Have Made It" by gospel powerhouse Marvin Sapp. Seeing the reaction of my fellow classmates, I was comforted by the thought that I was not alone in my love for and gratitude toward the Lord.
All points considered—negative and positive—I thoroughly enjoyed myself on the evening of the New Wildcat Induction Ceremony. I thank the Lord Almighty for affording me the opportunity to be a member of the Fort Valley State University family, and I look forward to attending many more programs hosted by my school.
There truly is no place like the Valley.

--Dominique Vidal Nichols is a Presidential Scholar at Fort Valley State University. Presidential scholarships are automatically awarded to qualified applicants to the school.

Monday, August 18, 2008

This week's events

It's the first day of classes. So here are the "extras" on FVSU's campus this week:

August 18: 5 p.m. Orientation for Students Enrolled in an Online Course, Blanchet CTM Auditorium
August 19: 11 a.m. Memorial service for Dr. Kenneth Chatman, longtime Fort Valley State University administrator, in the C.W. Pettigrew Center auditorium.
August 21: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Welcome to the Valley business expo for students. Get to know the businesses in the area, their opportunities for internships and how to get involved with the Fort Valley community.
August 21: Wildcat Battalion Welcome Back picnic
August 23: Wildcat football. First game of the season, against Valdosta State, in Valdosta.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Best representations

Meet Miss FVSU, Shanoria Morgan, and Mr. FVSU, Alexander Little. These two have been amazing ambassadors for thier beloved school this week, and before.
The royals were part of FVSU's recruitment efforts, talking to potential student, the media, and anyone who would listen. They believe in their school, which is possibly the best reference we can offer.
So watch for them on campus. Listen for them on the radio. And hear what they have to say. FVSU is the place to be and they are shouting the message from the roof tops.
And if you're looking to see what kind of students FVSU produces, take a good look at these two. Dedicated, polished and articulate, they are training those who are coming in after them.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Welcome, Wildcats

There’s something special about the fall semester at Fort Valley State University, especially Wildcat Welcome Week. Orientation activities are held for freshmen the week before the upper classmen arrive. On Sunday, the FVSU family opened its arms wide to help the pride of new Wildcats. The new students met their surrogate family - student ambassadors and representatives in housing, financial aid, admissions, plant operations and volunteers who shuttled them in golf carts and buses to help with their move. It’s such a nice touch. My grandmother and sister helped me move into the dorms at UF many moons ago. I can’t remember ever seeing administrators help anyone lift a box.

When I arrived at the orientation’s location at the HPE Complex, the parking lot was packed with cars and a huge blue and gold tent. At noon, the District 2 FVSU Alumni Association, led by the Warner Robins chapter, grilled and served hot dogs, hamburgers and drinks to a thousand students and their families for free. When I say families, I mean not only immediate family – but aunts, uncles, grandparents, and cousins.

Waves of campus guests poured out of the gym after the convocation ceremony that featured speeches by Miss FVSU, Mr. FVSU, the Student Government Association President and President Larry E. Rivers. The Blue Machine Marching Band and Dancing Dolls added high energy to an already charged atmosphere. Instinctively, feeling my journalism mojo kick in, I pulled out a notepad to interview parents. I couldn’t help myself. Every parent I met gave the president’s speech a thumbs up.

I interviewed several students and mused about the months and months of work the entire FVSU family spent beating the bushes to recruit them. Georgia is a competitive market in higher education. We’re in a battle to win and retain every student interested in matriculating here.

For the marketing department’s part, we embraced a “by any means necessary” approach to selling the school to potential students. We designed print and billboard ads, placed them in publications; wrote radio and tv spots and loads of press releases, then distributed these to the media throughout the state. We helped produce editorials in daily newspapers and produced a television show called the Wildcat Report. Free time was booked on any public access station that agreed to air the show. Then there were endless calls made to book interviews on tv and radio stations throughout Georgia to discuss our victories and challenges. We opened an account on Facebook and MySpace for Dr. Rivers to give students more access to the president and placed video blogs on You Tube.

So far, our efforts are paying off. As students pour in this week to register, I’m counting each one and celebrating. FVSU’s enrollment increase isn’t one department’s accomplishment. It’s a unified, collaborative effort that the entire FVSU family can be proud of.
--Vickie Oldham is the Director of Marketing and Communications at Fort Valley State University

Monday, August 11, 2008

please, thank you and the lost art of courtesy

I am always pleased when I hear my child use the words "please" and "thank you." And I am always pleasantly surprised when I hear someone else using common courtesy. Because in our fast-paced world, I wonder sometimes if simple human courtesy is getting lost.
I'm always careful to be especially courteous to people who are in customer-service jobs. Waiters and waitresses, fast-food establishment employees, retail clerks, bank tellers and receptionists. They encounter hundreds of people a day, and they have a job I don't think I could do.
This week, we are welcoming the new freshman class on campus. It is my hope that their encounters are pleasant and successful; that FVSU employees bend over backwards to meet their needs and answer their questions. And if we encounter someone having a bad day, that we will remember the difference courtesy can make. I have learned, if nothing else, that if I can't help someone myself, that being nice and going the extra step of directing them to someone who can help leaves a very positive impression. They don't always remember that I couldn't help, but they do remember that I was kind and courteous.

--Misty Cline works for the Office of Marketing and Communications at Fort Valley State University

Friday, August 8, 2008

Welcoming new freshmen

Having freshmen arrive a week early and take part in a host of activities designed to acclimate them to college life just seems smart. After all, for most this will be the first time they stretch their wings away from momma's protective eye. So here at FVSU, we bring them in, help them get to know their classmates, teach them to take care of themselves and each other. Here's an idea of their agenda:
Sunday, August 10
6 a.m. :Early Bird Move-In, Wildcat Commons
8 a.m.: Check-In/Registration Residence Halls Open for New Students
HPE Complex
3 p.m. : The Official Wildcat Welcome Orientation, HPE Complex
5-7 p.m.: Dinner, Food Service Center
8:30 p.m.: New Scholars Orientation, Wildcat Commons Clubhouse

Monday, August 11 -Getting Connected with FVSU
7 p.m. : New Student Induction Ceremony, HPE Complex
Cost: $10 for non students
7 – 8 a.m.: Breakfast, Food Service Center
3:30 – 4:00 p.m.: Student Ambassador Session
7 p.m.: Freshman Induction Banquet, HPE Complex
Cost non-students: $10

Tuesday, August 12 - Getting Connected with Resources to Success
7 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.: Breakfast, Food Service Center
9 a.m. : Placement Testing
4:30 – 7p.m.: Dinner, Food Service Center
7 p.m.: Magician, Woodward Gymnasium
8 p.m.: Wildcats to Wally World (shuttle bus to Wal-Mart), Health and P.E. Complex

Wednesday, August 13 - Wildcat Relationships Day
7 – 8:30 a.m.: Breakfast, Food Service Center
9 a.m.: New Student Registration, Health and Physical Education Complex
2:15 – 3:30 p.m.: Mr. FVSU & Miss FVSU Heart to Heart, C.W. Pettigrew Center & Founders Halls
4-7 p.m.: Dinner, Food Service Center
6:15 p.m.: Freshman Leadership: Being a Freshman Class Officer
7 p.m.: AKA Mentor Family Fellowship Program, Pettigrew Center Auditorium
9 p.m. – midnight: The First Freshman Jam, George N. Woodward Gymnasium

Thursday, August 14 - Wildcat Health and Wellness Day
7 a.m.: Breakfast, Food Service Center
9 a.m. – 7 p.m.: New Student Registration, HPE Complex
Noon – 2 p.m.: Lunch, Food Service Center
3:30 p.m.: Student Ambassador Session III
4:30 – 7 p.m.: Dinner, Food Service Center
7 p.m.: Cancer Awareness and Facts, Woodward Gymnasium

Friday, August 15
7 – 8:30 a.m.: Breakfast, Food Service Center
9 a.m.: Placement Testing, Horace Mann Building
9 a.m. – 5 p.m.: Student Ambassador Sessions
7 p.m.: Wildcat Luau, Wildcat Commons Courtyard

Saturday, August 16
10:30 – noon: Brunch, Food Service Center
Trip to Macon Mall, HPE Complex
7 p.m.: Blue Fever Talent Display, George N. Woodward Gymnasium

all events are tentative and subject to change

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Judicial Committee Mythbusters

“The students are coming, the students are coming…”and just as frantically as Paul Revere traveled on his midnight ride many years ago, so are we the faculty, staff and administration of Fort Valley State University preparing for an arrival. While our students' arrival will be met with a much friendlier attitude that that of the Americans meeting the British in Revere's day, there are, nonetheless, preparations to be made.

As part of my efforts to aid the students that are coming our way, I would like to discuss a topic that many students skim over or tune out during Freshman Orientation; the function of the Judicial Committee here at FVSU. Hopefully students will read through our blog when they get settled here and be introduced to how this committee functions and maybe even have a few myths dispelled along the way.

The Judicial Committee operates under the supervision and guidance of the Vice-President for Student Affairs, Dr. Terrence Smith. The members of the committee are chosen to serve a one-year term and approved by our President, Dr. Larry Rivers. The committee consists of two Co-Chairpersons and 10 to 12 members. The committee hears cases twice a month; each Co-chair presides once monthly over cases that range from fighting to electronic harassment to partying and everything in between and may number anywhere from five to sixteen cases in each session.

So how does one end up in front of the committee (by now you should be hearing strains of the theme music from the Godfather in your head)? The way that a student ends up in Judicial is quite simple: they break rules, ignore regulations and commit infractions against the university, another student, or a faculty, staff or member of the administration. This generally involves campus security, or as in some cases recently, the Fort Valley Police Department.

Now let’s dispel the first myth that you may have heard: “Campus security are not real cops, they can’t do anything.” Folks this is false and dangerous myth. The security at FVSU is made up of state-mandated law enforcement officers who are trained to function in the same manner and with the same legal rights as those protecting our cities and highways. They are “real” cops and they CAN and WILL do something if they see you misbehaving.

Now for the second myth: "If I go before the judicial committee, it ain’t that big of a deal.” Wrong again. If you appear before judicial, you will be asked how you plead and your case will be heard. You will be allowed to present witnesses, your mother, father or anyone else can come sit in the courtroom with you. But you will ultimately decide your own fate by your behavior. The judicial committee will consider all evidence and then render a judgment of guilty or innocent. If the judgment is innocent, you will receive a letter to that effect and that is the end of the story. However, receive a guilty verdict and the committee will also decide on your punishment, based on the seriousness of the infraction. The committee then sends a recommendation to the Vice President of Student Affairs and, with his approval (he seldom disapproves committee recommendations), a letter will be sent to you.

The ball is now in your court and so comes Myth # 3. “The sanctions imposed by the judicial committee ain’t nothing to worry about; just pay a fine.” Wrong again. If you receive fines, community service or other sanctions such as probation or expulsion and fail to complete the terms in the manner set forth by the committee, a hold will be put on your grades, your financial aid and the ability to register or pre-register for classes for the next term. The only way to get these holds off is to complete the terms of your hearing, and no, you cannot work off 100 hours of community service two weeks before registration.

And finally perhaps the biggest myth of all, “Drugs and alcohol are no big deal at FVSU, it is a PARTY SCHOOL, and besides if I get caught, my parents lawyer will get me off." Oops,wrong again. FVSU has a ZERO TOLERANCE policy against drugs, alcohol and weapons regardless of who brings it on campus. If you are caught with drugs or alcohol in your room, your car or on your person, you most probably are going to face EXPULSION. Oh and by the way, because this is a university judicial committee, your parents' lawyer has absolutely no jurisdiction here. He can come and hold your hand or confer with you on what to say, but he or she is not going to argue your case or protect you.

Finally and most important, when you are tempted to stray off the path because of temptations, envision you mother sitting behind you in the hearing, tears streaking down her face as she frets over the day missed from work to come and support you, while you sit in front row center trying to explain why it was a good idea to get down and dirty with security over the drugs that you didn’t have that fell out of your pocket. My heart goes out to each and every parent that I meet in this manner; it is embarrassing for them, it is awkward for me and the rest of the committee and as soon as you leave the hearing, as the old saying goes, “ain't nobody going to be happy if Mamma ain’t happy..."

--Oreta Samples is the lead veterinary technician for the Department of Veterinary Science at Fort Valley State Univeristy

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The 2008-2009 school year is fast approaching here in the Valley and with it come droves of new freshman students who are anxious to experience college life away from home and all which that life entails. Speaking for the entire Fort Valley State University Family of faculty, staff and administrators, I want to say “Welcome, we are glad you are here.” This university offers a variety of opportunities for you to learn, have fun and grow into the productive adults that we are so proud to call our own.

As you begin your educational journey, there are many opportunities and yet there are some pitfalls that you will want to avoid in order to make the most of your experiences. First and foremost, your goal and the reason that your parents have entrusted you to Fort Valley State University is to get an education; got it? Good, now having said that, this entails going to class every day from the first day to the last, meaning that on August 18th, you need to be sitting at the front of the room in the classroom where each and every one of your classes are held at the designated time they are to meet. I realize that there are only about eight to ten rows of desks in most classrooms, so when the front row fills up because you were a few minutes late getting there, go to the second row.

It is expected and encouraged that you are going to meet new friends and hopefully forge relationships that last a lifetime. Make sure that those relationships are healthy and good for you. As the Co-Chair of the Judicial Committee for Students here at FVSU, I am asking - no I am begging - you to make healthy choices. Just as young ladies who worry about their weight constantly are seen at the salad bar in the cafe while turning their noses up at pizza and French fries, I want you to likewise be seen in the company of students who, like yourself, are here to get educated. Therefore seek out like-minded individuals to study with and spend time with while walking away from (and yes even turning your nose up at) those individuals who would invite you into the world of alcohol, drugs and all-night parties. A good way to gauge whether or not the people you hang with are conductive to your educational pursuits is this: If you see campus security walking along the path towards you and either you or your companion feel the need to turn off and go the other way, YOU ARE NOT HANGING WITH A FRIEND !!!

The Judicial Committee sees far too many cases which take up an extraordinary amount of time to address the following: behavior because of drugs, behavior because of alcohol, behavior because of out-of-control associations. Notice all of these cases involve “behavior.” If your behavior is unacceptable, you will (sooner or later) end up in front of the judicial committee, crying and trying to justify your actions. And the judicial committee will fairly and impartially listen to your story and then decide what to do with you. So as you enter the new school year, strive to do well, have fun and above all…BEHAVE!

--Oreta Samples is the lead veterinary technician for the Department of Veterinary Scicences at Fort Valley State University

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Last call: vacations and such

With the recent reminder of the upcoming Faculty-Staff Institute, today marks the end of the lazy, hazy, down-right hot days of summer for most of us. Hopefully everyone has had a chance to do something fun that recharged them, both mentally and physically, for the upcoming school year. While summertime for people in academia (both students and instructors) is the prime time for vacations, Continuing Education opportunities and travel; it is oftentimes not the prime time for others who might like to accompany them on a jaunt to the South Pacific or just down the road to Disney World.

For many who work in the field of agriculture, spring and summer are the prime time for growing, followed up by a fall harvest (fat chance of fitting a romantic trip with your tractor-driving honey in at that time). No, just about the time that instructors are pulling out grade books and stocking up on writing utensils during the tax free weekend, the tractor stops grinding and the plants seemingly give permission for a few days of blissful, non-damaging neglect in order to “go away.” For those who are in retail, the return to school signals a brief respite for retailers before heading into 80-hour workweeks preparing for the Christmas rush, which seems to start earlier every year and doesn’t really end until after the first of the year when all the returns roll in. And for those without children and whose spouses fill the administrative job market, you have suffered through their good intentions of acquiescing to the last slot on the list in terms of requested vacation time in order for those with children to make the mad dash to Disney World before school starts.

So now, its time for Faculty Staff Institute and your spouse is looking at you with that far-away, get-me-the-heck-out-of-Dodge look. What to do?

For starters, take advantage of every opportunity that allows for rest and relaxation. The beginning of the school year always seems to be the most hectic time of the entire year in terms of organization and time management with classes beginning, new students needing direction and a never-ending amount of committee work to be done. Although it may seem a monumental task, planning ahead to literally “get outta Dodge” for the weekend is a guaranteed stress-buster if for no other reason than the change of scenery. With the wide availability of wireless internet connection in practically every hotel, motel and camping ground around, there is no reason that one cannot surf the 'net under a pine tree in a Georgia state park or on a beach next to the Holiday Inn®.

If you can’t off the top of your head think of the ultimate stress busting place that takes you away, think of your significant other. What are the hobbies and stress-busting activities that they never get to do? Fly fishing? Book a cabin for weekend on a fast-moving stream. Photography? Head on up to Calloway Gardens and watch em’ stalk butterflies through the fauna. Trust me, sometimes your most enjoyable times are spent when you give of yourself to others; it’s a win-win situation.

--Oreta Samples is the lead veterinary technician for the Department of Veterinary Science at Fort Valley State University

Monday, August 4, 2008

The class of when?

I dropped my child off for his first day of first grade this morning. I was fine, until I looked at the banners the school had hanging from the hallway ceilings. "Class of 2024," read the on on his hall.
Oh, my. Twelve years of grade school, then four years of college. 2024. All of a sudden that doesn't seem so far away.

--Misty Cline works in the Office of Marketing and Communications at Fort Valley State University.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Wildcat Commons Phase III

Images from this morning's ceremony, celebrating the two new Wildcat Commons buildings under construction.

The new dorms are visible in the background as shovels and hard hats wait for the ceremonial dirt toss.
Fort Valley State University officials and dignitaries from local and state government line up to break the ground.
A small gust of wind blew the dirt back on to some shovel-wielding officials.

Dr. Melody Carter officiated over the groundbreaking ceremony.
Miss FVSU, Shanoria Morgan, speaks with housing director Hosea Lewis after the ceremony.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

More financial aid on its way

Fort Valley State University students wanting a college diploma will have more financial aid options possible. The U.S. Department of Education has increased the amount available for unsubsidized student loans effective this month.

According to Eula Solomon, FVSU’s director of financial aid, the increase is in response to the rising costs of tuition and living expenses across the board.

“Last year, the university depleted its budgetary resources and Wildcat loans to help students stay in school,” said Solomon. “The university also had to turn students away because of lack of money.”

Last year, the federal government only allowed FVSU students a base borrowing amount: freshmen could receive $3,500; sophomores, $4,500; juniors and upperclassmen, $5,500. Dependent students – excluding students whose parents cannot borrow the Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS) – will now have an additional $2,000. Independent students and dependents who are freshman and sophomores parents cannot borrow PLUS funds will be eligible for an additional $6,000; and $7,000 is the cap amount for juniors and seniors.

--Christina Milton writes for the Office of Marketing and Communications at Fort Valley State University

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Growing by leaps and bounds

In 2007, FVSU topped the University System of Georgia with a 17.7 percent increase in students. So far, more than 5,270 potential Wildcats have applied for fall 2008 – a 58.3 percent rise since the same time last year.

“Based upon prior enrollment projections, we are anticipating 1,200 to 1,500 new students for the fall semester 2008,” said Dr. Terrance Smith, FVSU’s vice president for student affairs and enrollment management. “The new students will assist us in reaching an anticipated historic high enrollment of 3,200 to 3,500 students. The entire FVSU family and the Board of Regents is very excited about this anticipated growth, which should exceed the highest enrollment at FVSU: approximately 3,100 students in 1996.”

“This is only the beginning for FVSU,” said Smith. “Wildcat Country will continue to grow by leaps and bounds to reach an enrollment goal of 5,000 students in the very near future.”

Friday, July 25, 2008

Pet peeve

We held local elections here last week. And though the results are in and the winners are back to work, the campaign yard signs remain. Oh, a few have "thank you" stickers plastered across them, but the majority are just left like so much litter along the highway. Do you think they'll be picked up - or just replaced with November election signs?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Paying it forward

I went to college with a plan to pay for it. I would up with a plesant surprise: a scholarship in the second half of my freshman year. Oh, I still worked, but that scholarship made it about $1,000 easier each year.
FVSU is getting ready to shatter another incoming-class record. About 1,500 Fall 2008 freshmen are packing their bags and saying "see you soon" to their families. And for some of them, it will be "see you sooner."
Because without an infusion of scholarship money, some of those students will be going home before the end of August. Projections indicate that FVSU will need about $250,000 more than what we already have to help students this fall. And time is running out as school starts in three weeks.
So visit the FVSU Web site:
Help a student stay in school.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Politics and pride

A wise man once said: “never discuss politics or religion over dinner; it spoils the digestion.” Folks, I intend to break both of those rules over the next few weeks, so hold on to your biscuits…

We are spectators currently in the midst of the most exciting political run for the Presidency of the United States that this country has seen in quite a few years. It started with the bid for the Democratic nomination featuring a well-educated, familiar, and politically savvy woman squaring off against a newcomer to the national arena in the form of the well-educated, politically active African American man. Both brought to the table much insight, compassion, and the desire to serve their country in the highest office of the land. And I think it is safe to say that regardless of your political affiliation, it was an interesting and thought provoking race - one that the drafters of the Constitution quite possibly could never have imagined coming to pass: a political race between the last two groups of individuals to be granted the right to vote within this country.

Now the Democrats have made their choice and the race for the Presidency has taken on a new fervor. The next few months stand to be pretty exciting.

Frankly I am reminded at this point in the race of the long-gone television show, Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, which featured an older distinct Marlon Perkins who narrated from the safety of the studio while his co-host Jim Fowler (who, by the way, is a native of Albany, Ga.) wrestled crocodiles in the Nile and Anacondas in the Amazon Basin or sometimes just tried to outrun a cheetah or gazelle on the Serengeti Plains. If you are over forty you remember these scenes with Marlon in the background saying something entertaining like: “Look out Jim, Nile crocodiles have enough force in their jaws when closing to snap a man’s spine.” This narration likely took place as the younger Jim was thrashing around, legs wrapped around the croc, prying its mouth open as the creature attempted some fantastic death roll. The most stunning and visually disturbing episode I remember watching as a child was the special on lions. There was the grizzled male lion guarding the pride, when out of nowhere a young male lion in the throes of “lion-hood” attempted to take over. The catfight that ensued was magnificent with claws swiping this way and that, rendering flesh open while tails swished and guttural growls filled the air. Soon the fight was over and (depending on the show) the young male took off, tail tucked between his legs growling over his shoulder in a vow to fight another day. Or... the fight was over and the older lion - bloodied and limping - sidled out of the cameras view into the high grass and collapsed, utterly defeated.

Just as with the lion pride, the candidates are also racing against one another to be the ultimate representative of America’s “pride.” While both men have much to offer in the way of leadership and fresh ideas about the direction in which the country needs to turn, in the end only one can stay, watching the defeated walk proudly (no limping allowed) into the sunset to run another day. And while it would be nice (if not entertaining) to have a grandfatherly Perkins to narrate this race with calm insightful phrases such as: “Lookout Jim, those polls, when closed, will guarantee a result to be lived with for at least the next four years,” I am afraid we are on our own, folks.

So I ask that as you go forth in the near future to cast your ballot, be mindful of the sacrifices and service that the old lion has given both on native soil and foreign. Be considerate of the young lion who is beginning what we can only hope is years of public service. Both lions are deserving of the pride's consideration, and prayers as they make this run for the top.

God Bless the USA

--Oreta Samples is the lead veterinary tech in the Department of Veterinary Science.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The art of training

FVSU is in the middle of a customer service training blitz. Every staff member will be receiving a day and a half of instruction on how best to interact with and help callers and visitors to campus. In a world where communication is often limited to text messaging and e-mails, it's nice to know that face-to-face interaction is still being studied and perfected. It's also nice to know that FVSU cares enough to want to make sure every student and parent is treated with kindness and respect, that callers are helped as effectively as possible, or passed to a more knowledgeable resource with efficiency.
Job training is usually reserved for either new employees or bright stars in the corporate world. In nine years in a communications field, I was sent for training once, and that only when I told my bosses I was willing to take my vacation time and pay my own way to a conference three hours from home. In the year I've been at FVSU, I've been to two in-house training sessions, with one more scheduled, and was allowed - no, encouraged - to plan and execute a series of computer training sessions for my office and any others interested in attending. Cool.

--Misty Cline works for the Office of Marketing and Communications at Fort Valley State University

Friday, July 18, 2008

Summer Orientation for New Students

Fort Valley State University held its new student orientation today in the C.W. Pettigrew Center and it was packed: more than 217 students attended Friday’s event that introduced new students to professors, faculty and administrators at the university. It’s the fourth in a series of summer orientations for students. So far, all of the event contained overflow crowds.

During orientation, I talked to many parents who were sincerely happy about the summer information sessions. One mother told me that she felt as if her child was in good hands at FVSU, “I have another daughter in school in Atlanta,” she said. “They didn’t hold summer orientation sessions like this one. Fort Valley State University’s customer service makes me feel as if my daughter will be safe.”

I remember when I was a skinny, eighteen year old entering college as a freshman. Leaving parents for the first time is scary and exciting: for the first time, you’re free of the restrictions that adults impose. But, it’s nice to know how to navigate the waters of a college campus before you get there. The universities and colleges I attended – like University of Missouri, Columbia -- never had summer sessions like the ones at FVSU that ease the process of transitioning from high school. There were no administrators there to hold students’ hands or to walk them through the process. When a student arrived on campus – they had to sink or swim. You were given a campus map, a printed copy of your class schedule and told “good luck.”

Many schools I attended lacked the personal touch that an institution like FVSU has. There wasn’t electronic registration for financial aid, nor were there professors or administrators willing to meet you to advise you. You navigated the process of financial aid, advising and finding your classes on your own. This isn’t the case at FVSU, whose administrators truly seem to care about students’ lives, welfare and future.

-Christina Milton

Answers, part 4

10. The college infirmary built in 1934 was dedicated to Mrs. Florence Hunt, wife of FVHIS principal Henry A. Hunt. The structure was demolished in the early '70s, and the current building completed by 1975 (research dates conflict). The Hunts are entombed on campus and their resting site is a focal point for Founders Day events each November.

11. Dr. Walter W. Sullivan was appointed acting president in June 1982 following the sudden death of Cleveland W. Pettigrew, president since 1973. Dr. Melvin E. Walker was named acting president October 1, 1988, following the departure of Dr. Luther Burse.

12. The Anderson House was built by F.W. Gano and named in memory of professor Benjamin S. Anderson. The main exhibit and displays come from the collection of Alfonso Biggs, a historian and chef to three U.S. presidents.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Get to know FVSU, Part 4

Last section, for now....

10. The original infirmary was erected in 1934 and dedicated to
a. Mr. Florence Hunt
b. Miss Sophie Moore
c. Miss Catherine Hardy *bonus question: who is Catherine Hardy?

11. The following served as interim president
a. Dr. W.W.E Blanchet
b. Dr. Walter W. Sullivan
c. Dr. Melvin Walker
d. A. and C.
e. B. and C.
f. A. and B.

12. The Anderson House was constructed in the mid-1800s by
a. Henry A. Hunt
b. John W. Davidson
c. F.W. Gano
d. Benjamin S. Anderson

Check your answers tomorrow!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Answers, Part 3

7. The second president of FVSC was Dr. C.V. Troup. The current administration building is named for him.

8. The current football stadium was constructed in 1957. It is scheduled for demolition following the 2008 football season, and a new stadium and student amenities building will be built in its place. Go Wildcats!

9. Mr. Samuel Henry Bishop donated the funds for the dining hall in 1932. The remodeled building now serves as the Mass Communications building.

*Expanded answers are researched using "Light in the Valley," by Donnie D. Bellamy

Monday, July 14, 2008

Get to know FVSU, part 3

More questions from the Anderson House Museum quiz. Enjoy!

7. Upon the resignation of Dr. Horace Mann Bond in 1945, the second president appointed was
a. Dr. Cleveland W. Pettigrew
b. Dr. C.V. Troup
c. Dr. Oscar Prater

8. The current football stadium was constructed in
a. 1895
b. 1905
c. 1957
d. 1987

9. Mr. Samuel Henry Bishop donated the funds for construction of
a. the student union building in 1967
b. the agricultural building in 1954
c. the dining hall in 1932
d. the men's dormitory in 1939

Answers to come tomorrow!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Answers to part 2

4. Mr. William Merida Hubbard founded the State Teachers and Agricultural College of Forsyth in May 1903. That college merged with FVHIS in 1939 to become Fort Valley State College.

5. Henry Alexander Hunt was the second principal of FVHIS, appointed in 1904.

6. Dr. Horace Mann Bond was the first president of Fort Valley State College. He served from 1939 to 1945.

More to come!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Get to know FVSU - part 2

Continuing our quiz -

4. The State Teachers and Agricultural College of Forsyth was founded in May 1903 by

a. Dr. C.V. Troup

b. Mr. William Merida Hubbard

c. Horace Mann Bond

5. The second principal appointed to FVHIS was

a. Anna T. Jeans

b. Colis P. Huntington

c. Henry Alexander Hunt

6. The first president of Fort Valley State College was

a. Dr. C.V. Troup

b. Dr. Horace Mann Bond

c. Dr. W. W. E. Blanchet

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

What do rattlesnakes, Delta Airlines and a Samuel Adams Brewery have in common?

They all play a part in my travels to Orlando, Fla. this past weekend to attend the 2008 Summer Institute for Nova Southeastern University; my last appearance before the good folks of NSU prior to graduation in September. I am writing this blog entry as I sit waiting the compelling and constantly changing saga which I have, named simply: “Where’s Orlando?”

The moral of this story…well I’ll get to that a little later. Many of you who know me know that I have been excitedly awaiting my final trip down to Orlando for my last class before being awarded a Doctorate of Health Sciences from Nova Southeastern University; after which I will hopefully land the job of my dreams … somewhere. I did everything right in order to avoid the normal disasters that happen when I travel alone. I made the plane reservation six months ahead of time in order to get the best price. The hotel reservation was made three months ahead of time to get a good room and I managed to turn in my leave request a month early to ensure that everyone who needed to know knew I would be gone. I even took two days off the week before I had to leave to make sure I was packed, rested and ready to conquer this last hurdle with finesse - therefore proving my worthiness to be addressed as a “Dr.” This massive long term planning should guarantee smooth sailing, right? Right. Those of you who have traveled with me in the past already know this is not the way the story ends. For those of you who have never traveled with me, take heart, your turn's a-comin'.

I got up bright and early the day of the trip (actually that is Oreta-speak for 9-ish) and was about to sit down and relax when someone reminded me I had to leave by 11 if I was going to be on Groome Transportation at 12 sharp. So I meandered around until I was showered, changed, fed and ready to go - all that remained was to put on my shoes … that’s when it happened. I was apprised that at the exact moment I was readying myself to drag my luggage out the door there was a baby rattlesnake under my roommate’s truck. Regarding myself an amateur snake handler of sorts (okay, okay, I got bit a few weeks back, but hey, it happens) I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see the baby snake up close and personal. Suffice to say after a discussion over snake relocation methods that involved among other things, a shovel, a sack, a loaded pistol and a piece of pipe, it was decided to attempt to pick up the snake with a six-foot piece of irrigation tube and a small piece of wood and transfer it to a sack for relocation. The snake was not thrilled with the relocation efforts, squiggling this way and that as two people tried to pick it up while it rattled away and struck at everything that moved. While a one-foot or smaller rattlesnake is not something that strikes fear in my heart, I figured the good folks of Nova Southeastern would not cotton to an excused absence from Summer Institute due to stupidity and a snakebite. So I tried to help, stay out of the way, and see everything all at once. Suffice to say that we finally got the snake in a bag, tied the top and stored him in a bucket until he could be … well, relocated.

I loaded up, drove to Groome in Macon, missed the noon bus and finally arrived at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport at 2:15. Undaunted, I was heading for the terminal when my cell phone rang and a canned voice announced that my flight was not leaving at 3:50, but rather 4:50. Back on schedule, I found a good cup of coffee and gamely made my way at a more sedate pace through the crowds. Upon my arrival at the terminal, I was told the flight had been delayed again and was now going to leave at 5:17. At this point the departure time of the flight to Orlando was changing faster than a stock market tip on crude oil. As I write this I now have an “approximate” departure time of 6:50 … but that may change according to the Delta official manning the new gate, where I accidentally realized my flight had been transferred to. I am sure they announced it, but of course my hearing problem is a problem when Ican’t read lips from thirty feet away; the closest seat to the boarding area.

Oh well, it is 6:30, I think I will head on down to the terminal and check out the latest departure time. Surely it has had time to change, and it is getting on towards supper time. I sure hope Orlando is still there when I get there - oh and did I mention I may be in the market for a “personal assistant?” The requirements include experience in rattlesnake roundups, bat-like sonar hearing and the ability to locate a fresh cup of coffee in all situations …. Have a great week everybody.

--Oreta Samples is the lead veterinary tech in the Department of Veterinary Science.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

How well do you know FVSU? Answers

1. The First Morrill Act refers to the Land-Grant Act of 1862. FVSU is a Land-Grant Act of 1890 institution. Named for Representative Justin Smith Morrill of Vermont, the Act encourages colleges to teach agriculture and the mechanic arts in order to promote the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes in the several pursuits and professions in life. (Reworded from the Act)

2. John W. Davison was the first principal of Fort Valley High and Industrial School and leader of the founders of FVSU. He and others started planning the school in October of 1895 and on November 6, 1895 eighteen men petitioned the Superior Court of Houston County for a charter to legalize the school "for the higher mental and manual education of the youths and children of Georgia, also to elect teachers and have general control of all matters connected with teh carrying out of said school."

3. "People" are consistently emphasized in the mission statement through the years.

Monday, July 7, 2008

How well do you know FVSU?

Many thanks to Anderson House Museum Director Berry Jordan, as he's developed the "quiz" I'll be sharing with you this week. Think you know a lot about FVSU? Then these should be easy:
1. The First Morrill Act refers to:
a. The Land-Grant of 1890
b. The Civil Rights Act of 1964
c. The LAnd-Grant Act of 1862
d. None of the above

2. John W. Davidson was
a. The first president of FVSU
b. The first principal of Fort Valley High and Industrial School
c. The first mayor of Fort Valley
d. A professor in the history department

3. One thing that has been consistently emphasized in the mission statement of FVSU since its inception has been:
a. students
b. community
c. administration
d. people

Answers to follow tomorrow!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Patriotism all the year 'round

One of the most moving events I have ever witnessed is the Commissioning Ceremony of ROTC cadets at the Fort Valley State University Commencement exercises. I always get choked up. And I know I am not the only one, for as I look around the hall. I can see women ducking heads to dab at wet eyes, or men pulling handkerchiefs from pockets to wipe their faces.

I am not sure why everyone else is getting so emotional, but I know why I am. I am witnessing one of the most selfless acts of courage that man or woman has ever made. I am watching young people who have the rest of their adult lives ahead of them make a decision to postpone a “normal” life for military service. I am watching young men and women who have exhibited leadership on our campus accept the challenge to be leaders in a wartime military. Those young people have tremendous courage to accept the challenges that lie ahead, especially when there are some people who would deny them that right.

Each of those young men and women who is commissioned during college graduation is representative of the thousands of men and women who previously accepted the call to duty. So many individuals have died to give freedom to those of us who remain. I recently received an email that had a picture of Arlington National Cemetery on it. The caption read “Freedom Isn’t Free.” That message really struck home as I thought of the number of men and women who died in war or who came home wounded. And although the men and women in my family who served did come home, I think how different my world would have been if they had not survived and even how different it would have been if they had not served.

I tear up at these commissioning ceremonies because I respect the sacrifices and challenges of those young people. I tear up because they remind me that I am able to live the way I do in a nation that allows me so many opportunities. They remind me that I have so much to be thankful for, and that my first words of thanks should be to them.

As you celebrate the 4th of July this year, remember our Patriots. When you have that meal, and say the blessing (Patriots died that you might do so), remember those young men and women so recently commissioned. But also remember those who fought to create this country and those who are in war torn countries now. Show your colors this weekend – and let them be Red, White, and Blue.

--Dr. Eleanor K. Sikes is the Interim Chairperson for Middle Grades Education Programs at Fort Valley State University

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Social debate

I've been reading a lot lately about four-day work weeks. Utah is making the new schedule mandatory for all government agencies except schools and emergency services. And State Superintendent of Schools Cathy Cox floated the idea last week as a way of saving money for the 2009-10 school year.
I've been saying for years (at least I say it every time the price of postage goes up) that I wish the U.S. Postal service would cut back on their delivery days. Really, I don't need to get those bills and sale ads on Saturday. Stay home, have a weekend, save some gas.
Imagine working four ten-hour days instead of five eights. What would be the complications? The benefits? As a parent, I'm thinking it would make a better balance between work and home life. Also as a parent, I'm thinking I have a hard enough time overseeing dinner, homework, bath and bedtime when I leave the office at 5. But I'm also guessing we'd all adjust, and be grateful on Fridays.
What do you think? Click on "comments" to leave your thoughts.

--Misty Cline works for the Office of Marketing and Communications. She loves 3-day weekends, but is a natural pessimist. "Weekends are just a different kind of work," she says.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Bringing Wildcat hope to prison

It’s a Wednesday morning in June, 7:45 a.m. (that's early in my book), FVSU photographer Robert Ross, Admissions Director Donovan Coley, FVSU President Larry E. Rivers, his security man Corporal Bryant, and I head to Macon State Prison in Oglethorpe, Ga. The president is upbeat, energetic and talkative. That's typical. He's a morning person. I am not.

Dr. Rivers is the commencement speaker today. We drive past miles and miles of corn fields and sod farms, then pull into the facility's main entrance. "Welcome to Macon State Prison" the sign out front reads. After surrendering photo IDs, we walk through a metal detector, a chain link fence and barbed-wire gates. A sobering reality overtakes me. We're led to a large hall where a piano and drum version of "Pomp and Circumstance” is played. A small group of parents, friends and teachers of the inmates assemble.

Gold tassels dangle from purple and white mortar boards worn by the graduates, who are draped in gowns of the same color. Everyone files in orderly. I immediately notice how young the inmates appear. Boyish faces, good-looking brothers, nice smiles. I almost forgot where I was. This could've been any graduation ceremony. I was quickly reminded of my whereabouts after looking down at the prisoners' starched, creased white pants with navy blue stripe seams and shined black brogans. I want to cross my legs to get comfortable, but Coley elbows me and tells me to cross them at the ankles. I do.

I wonder, what can Dr. Rivers say to make the situations of these convicted felons any better? Should it be any better because of the crimes they've committed? Were they guilty? What difference does a degree make in the grand scheme of these lives? Why should I feel sympathy for them? What would the families of their victims think? If I were one of their victims, how would I feel? Questions like this fill my mind in rapid-fire succession until I force myself to snap back into the ceremony.

"Ignorance is your greatest enemy. You've heard the saying 'what you don't know can't hurt you?' I've spent 21 years on death row all because of what I didn't know," said Solomon, one of the few 60-something inmates among the graduates. “Education is liberation. Ignorance is your enemy."

That statement answered one of the questions bombarding my mind. For the incarcerated, education provides mental freedom, if nothing else. I know people on the outside of jail cells who are more bound than prisoners, in the head.

A soloist with the Men of Zion prison choir leads several songs. His voice is as smooth and sultry as Sam Cook's. "The road's been rough, the going's been mighty tough, but I'm still holding on. I'll never let go of His hand."

The atmosphere changes in the room. The program has turned into a church service. Dr. Rivers intentionally leaves the prepared speech in the SUV and speaks extemporaneously. "Isn't it strange...that princes and kings…" (from "A bag of tools," by R.L. Sharpe)

I've heard him start a speech with this poem several times. But today, the words have a new meaning. The message is delivered in a preacher’s tone, volume and cadence. The president cups the mic similar to the way I’ve seen older pastors do; stepping back and forth away from the podium, rocking from side to side. Spontaneous 'amens' and handclaps enliven the stark, depressing room as Dr. Rivers shares a personal testimony about struggle. A high school counselor encouraged him to look for employment as a janitor after graduation, implying that he wasn’t capable of getting into college. With nothing but the blessings of his mom, dad and money enough to pay for one semester of classes, the president entered FVSU.

The author of three books who earned two doctorates holds the audience in the palm of his hands.

"Get knowledge. I’m encouraging you to go beyond where you are. When things get tough, fall on your knees."

The Men of Zion sing again. And I bat back tears. I really want to find a quiet spot alone and cry my eyes out. I swallow hard and keep clapping. I can’t judge the offenses of the inmates. But I can do something to help toward their rehabilitation. An encouraging word, as Dr. Rivers spoke, can accomplish a great feat. An inmate’s letter to the president later describes how the commencement message had an impact. The inmate has applied to attend FVSU through the university’s online course offerings.

--Vickie J. Oldham is the Special Assistant to the President for Marketing and Communications at Fort Valley State University

Friday, June 27, 2008

FVSU-A Personal Touch

Today, many new freshmen will flock to our campus for pre-orientation. What they find here will set many parents' minds at ease - Fort Valley State University has a personal touch. This touch separates us from other universities and is like no other. We call him President.

It was during my fourth semester at FVSU when Dr. Rivers graced us with his presence. At the time I was taking a full load - and carrying one too - as I was pregnant with my second child, Robert Brandon. Drained with fatigue, I hadn’t the opportunity to attend any functions other than classes, so didn’t meet Dr. Rivers until summer 2006.

By that time, I was seven months into my gestation and it showed. I had just completed an overnight shift in a busy newsroom. I mustered up the energy to witness my best bud and fellow mass communication major, Chaquasha D. Tomlin, graduate magna cume laude during Fort Valley’s summer commencement ceremony.

After the ceremony was over, I weaved my way through the crowd. As I waddled across the Health and Physical Education Complex floor, Dr. Rivers approached me. He stopped what he was doing, placed his hand on my protruding belly and exclaimed, “This is a future Wildcat!” My son was predestined from the womb by our fearless leader to walk in greatness at our fine university.

To our incoming freshmen I say, “Hats off.” You’ve made a wise decision. To the parents I say, “at ease.” Dr. Rivers took the time during such a busy and historic moment, one of his first commencements as President of his alma mater, to let me know that he cared about the matriculation of my unborn son. This same consideration will be given to your children as well.

--Stacie Barrett works for the Office of Marketing and Communications at Fort Valley State University

There will be two more pre-orientation events prior to the start of fall semester: July 11 and July 18. For more information, please call 478-825-6307

Thursday, June 26, 2008

What makes a house a home?

As we say goodbye to retiring employees (some of whom spent thiry years or more with us) and seek to hire new faculty and staff, I am left wondering: What is it that makes a job more than a job?
At what point does a job become a career? At what point does your workplace become your second home and your coworkers your second family? What makes FVSU not just a place of employment or education but the home-base for a far-flung family?
Because there's definitely an X-factor. Maybe it's a phenomenon of time. After so long at a workplace, it's hard to not get to know the people you share an office with. It's hard to not care about their successes and hopes, their disappointments and setbacks.
And maybe it's the byproduct of good hiring. What makes one person stand out in a sea of applicants? Usually it's that person's ability to "fit in" with the existing staff. Or to round out the current talents in an office. And those are hard things to train for, if not impossible.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Change of command

I had the honor recently of attending the ROTC Change of Command ceremony for the Wildcat Battalion here at Fort Valley State University.

I was both heartsick and gladdened by the changes hearkened by this ceremony. Lt. Col. Anthony Foster will long be remembered by most as being at the helm of the Wildcat Battalion, a soldier carrying out a mission. For me, he will be remembered most fondly as a friend whom I met quite accidentally during my first year of service on the FVSU Judicial Committee in 2006.

I have over the years had many occasions to call upon him for advice, assistance and sometimes just to say “thanks” for being there. He was never too busy to take my call, always had a few minutes to sit and chat in his office about the progress of a cadet or ways to steer back on track some minor offender that I had encountered within judicial hearings. Most of all, he was compassionate and friendly, truly one of the good guys that we as a society so desperately seek in this age of uncertainty.

Recently Lt. Col. Foster spoke to a group visiting Vet Science as part of their health camp activities. After listening to him for a few minutes, I was kicking myself for not inviting him over the years to speak with the various groups that darken our door in need of recruitment to our campus. He is dynamic, down to earth and a sterling - no make that a “golden” - representative of all that is good about our military and our educational system here in The United States of America and I am heartbroken to see him go.

However the antithesis of grief is joy, and I am gladdened to see that the responsibility of leading the Wildcat Battalion is being passed on to Lt. Col. Terry Love, who will go down in history as the 13th Commander of ROTC here at Fort Valley State University. Although I do not know Col. Love personally yet, there is something special about seeing an alumnus come back and take their place “in The Valley.” I look forward to getting to know him and working together for the good of the students under his command. He comes resplendent with accolades and accomplishments which support the hope and faith that his new “FVSU family” already has in his abilities, but most of all he is “one of us.” To Col. Love and his family I bid simply “welcome, we are glad you’re here.”

To Col. Foster, I would just like to say: “May the wind always be at your back, the sun on your face and the hand of God resting squarely on your shoulders, farewell, my friend."

--Oreta Samples is the lead veterinary tech in the Department of Veterinary Science.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The lost art of the RSVP

This happens to me a lot, as I hostess a number of events for my fraternity and other organizations I am a part of. I send out invitations - either e-vites or beautifully made hand-written cards. "RSVP" is clearly marked. Usually, I'm trying to gauge how much food to have on hand. Days go by, then a week, then two. It's the day before the event and I haven't received a single RSVP. Helloooooo?!?!?

So what has happened to the lost art of the RSVP? Have we reached a point where people feel so entitled that surely a hostess must just assume they will attend? Are we so busy in our lives that we can't make a common courtesy call? Or do the letters RSVP no longer mean anything? Can people decipher "LOL" and "ASAP" but not "RSVP?"

Your thoughts?

--Misty Cline works for the Office of Marketing and Communications at Fort Valley State University.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

There's a time for planning

I read with a little bit of horror both the news story about Georgia State Superintendent Kathy Cox requesting that local school districts push back their start dates and the ensuing "suggestions" posted online from sometimes well-meaning readers. (see

First, I don't know about all the other moms out there, but I have made arrangements for child care up to the day school is scheduled to start. Push back that date, and I'm left with a certain amount of time to scramble for child care. Summer camps are scheduled to end, the Boys and Girls Club camp here in Peach County had a scary time trying to find the funds to hold their camp at all. And can you imagine the non-traditional students starting college the same week as their kids? Or before? What if you've scheduled your classes around your kids' schedules (as much as possible)? I'm just saying mid-June might not be the best time to suggest changing an August start date.

Second, there was a lot of chatter in the "comments" section about going to a four-day school week. Now I know all the sound financial arguments for that - it would save a fortune in gas and electricity and school lunches. But as a working parent, again I'm horrified. You think my boss is going to let me go to a four-day workweek simply because my kid is out of school on Mondays? Or Fridays? Not a chance. So again I foresee a large number of parents scrambling for childcare. That is, unless some enterprising teachers band together to offer child care. But it can't be at the schools, can it? Because that defeats the purpose of "saving money" by not using the building that day. And frankly, if I'm a teacher and get moved to a four-day week of classes, I'm going to spend that extra day off grading papers, filling out the required paperwork (there's a mountain of it), studying for my own continuing education classes so I can stay certified, and so on. I'm not likely to take on a child care job for my students' parents. And as far as school lunches go, that one meal is, for a lot of students, the best meal they get all day. Friday lunchers sometimes have to make that meal last until Monday. Can you imagine trying to stretch it to Tuesday?

So Superintendent Cox's request left me, and apparently a lot of readers, with much to think about. If you care to continue the discussion in the "comment" section below, be nice, don't tear down anyone else's idea, and don't make personal comments like "so and so doesn't know what they are talking about" and don't bash teachers (that's my own personal pet peeve).

--Misty Cline works in the Office of Marketing and Communications at Fort Valley State University

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Living My Wildest Dream

Webster defines dream as "a strongly desired goal or purpose." All my life my mother and I dreamed of my being the first female in my family to earn a college degree.

My journey as a college student began more than twelve years ago. I attended a large state university at first. Two major factors changed my college career path. One was the loss of my mother during my sophomore year. Once my mother had gone, I had to work hard to take care of myself. After proving myself a valuable employee, my company transferred me out of state to the largest unit in the district - in Atlanta. My path had detoured, but for my own good. Eventually, all roads led to Fort Valley State University.

While I was working in Atlanta, I met my wonderful husband, Robert. Before you knew it, we were married and blessed with our beautiful daughter, Robin. Sooner than I could get diaper changing down pat, my company moved me once again - this time to the Middle Georgia area.

We were doing well. I had a magnificent husband, a radiant bundle of joy, and I was on a career path in the company as a vested eight-year employee. However, something was missing. After taking a short vacation to spend time with Robin, I discovered that something: I had given up on the dream. As I looked into my daughter’s eyes I thought, “How can I tell her to reach for the stars and capture all her dreams when I have given up on mine?”

I came to FVSU as both a transfer and non-traditional student. My career was traded in for the roles of domestic engineer and scholar.

FVSU is a public institution. As I heard Dr. Rivers tell the crowd at the Fall 2007 Preview Day, “Anybody as the right to matriculate at The Fort Valley State University....”

That includes a married mother of two, or anyone else who strayed away from their intended college career path. Let FVSU light the way. The road wasn’t easy, but through the support of my family and the university, my goal was obtainable.

--Stacie Barrett works in the Office of Marketing and Communications at Fort Valley State University

Monday, June 16, 2008

Rewards from the teaching profession

When I realized I wanted to be a teacher I was about 5 years old. I was not thinking about salary, workload, benefits, or rewards. All I was thinking about was how much I loved teaching. I was thinking about how much fun I was having sharing what I had learned with my “students” (my cousin and my dolls). I was thinking about how much happier I was when “playing school” than when “playing office.”

Now that I have been teaching for 37 years, I realize that I became a teacher because of the intrinsic rewards that come from this profession. I am still teaching because of the opportunities for self-improvement and life-long learning. I am still teaching because I love sharing knowledge and ideas with like-minded individuals. I am still teaching because I am still learning. Someone once told me that “the only job to have is the one that makes you happy.” That job, for me, is teaching.

One of the most rewarding experiences a teacher can have is to encounter his or her former students experiencing happiness and success in their chosen careers. This has happened to me twice in the last few months, and each time I experienced a sense of accomplishment and happiness. I realized that, in some small way, I helped these two former students, and others, accomplish their goals. Therefore, I had also accomplished one of my purposes in being a teacher. They were happy and I was happy for my small part in shaping their lives.

These two encounters are not the only ones I have had in the last 37 years, but they did reinforce once again why I chose a career in teaching. This profession does have a good salary base and good benefits. It does provide great learning experiences. It does have some tangible benefits. And I am very thankful for all of these benefits. But the primary reason for choosing this career and for my remaining in it for so many years is for its intrinsic value, for the value it has added to my life.

--Eleanor K. Sikes is the Interim Chairperson for Middle Grades Education Programs at Fort Valley State University

Friday, June 13, 2008

The day the world will end

This is the day the world will end. That’s right, Thursday, June 12, 2008, sometime today, according to Texas Prophet and notoriously poor speller, Yisyrayl “Buffalo Bill” Hawkins, nuclear war which will lead to doomsday will get under way today. If you are unfamiliar with Hawkins’ message, search for him on YouTube and you will be deluged with hits for his prophetic videos. If you’re a believer in these sorts of proclamations, its time to clean out your bank account and load up on Krispy Kremes, cigars, and 40s so you can kick back and watch the fireworks.

Unfortunately, Ol’ Bill has a history of being wrong. Hawkins also predicted that September 12, 2006, would be the date the world would end. Despite obviously missing that one, his followers keep following him. Many have legally changed their name to “Hawkins.” Why? Because Hawkins believes that only those with the last name of Hawkins will be saved.

Of course, according to ABC News[1], followers are also expected to buy their doomsday survival products from Hawkins’ own company. This, in addition to the no-doubt mandatory tithing to his ministry, makes the gospel of Armageddon a profitable message.

These guys probably got their start with the first caveman who, on a cloudy morning some millions of years ago screamed, "Oh heavens, some giant bird has eaten the sun and it will never rise again and we'll all die." After much general panic, when the sun rose again, he was beaten to death and life returned to normal.

People, especially it seems, fundamentalist and evangelical Protestants, have been claiming that we are living in the "end of days" as set forth in the Book of Revelation probably since St. John of Patmos set the document out for the ink to dry.Why this happens should be obvious. Imagine how empowering it would be to realize that you are the only person who has been given inside information about how the world is going to end and how people can survive the cataclysm. Now you can not only save those you care about, but you get to play god by choosing who lives and who dies. In addition, you will receive enormous amounts of adoration and if you are condemned by anyone as being a fool, your admirers will lash out at those who condemn you and praise you as a martyr. What a life!

Just in the past few years, how many times have we seen "great prophets" of doom appear? There were hordes of them surrounding June 6th, 2006 (6/6/6), Y2K, the avian flu, remember the suitcase nuke scares after 9/11? Religion has also seen hordes of them. These special individuals who use numerology, secret messages from their television, or "bible codes" to predict the dates of "raptures" or "second comings" or Armageddon. (Even though they wouldn't know what har Megiddo was nor could they find it on a map.)

In fact, the 1980s and 90s were decades of unparalleled optimism for eschatologists. According to What Really Happened.Com, the following are a sampling of the failed apocalypses of the time:
1980 - North Carolina prophecy teacher Colin Deal set dates for the return of Christ for 1982 or 1983, 1988, 1989, and in a March 17, 1989 radio broadcast, "about eleven years away." If at first you don't succeed...

1980 - Prophecy promoter Charles Taylor predicted rapture in 1988: “with the millennial reign of Christ due to begin in 1995, the rapture must surely occur in 1988 to coordinate with many other prophecies!" Not surprisingly, Taylor also made similar predictions for 1975, 1976, 1980, 1982, 1983, 1985, 1986, 1987, and, of course, 1989.

1981 - May 25. About fifty members of a group called the Assembly of Yahweh gathered at Coney Island, NY, in white robes, awaiting their "Rapture" from a world about to be destroyed between 3 p.m. and sundown.

1980 - Psychic Jeanne Dixon predicted a world holocaust for the 1980s.

1988 - Edgar C. Whisenant, in his book 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988, gave a three day period in September for the saints to be "caught up with the Lord." When this failed, he issued another book claiming that he was a year off, and urging everyone to be ready in 1989.
1991 - Reginald Dunlop, end-times author, stated that "The Antichrist would be revealed" around the year 1989 or 1990, perhaps sooner." The Rapture he predicted for 1991."

1990 - Elizabeth Clare Prophet predicted the end of the world by nuclear war in 1990. Her church has since seen a decline in membership.

1992 - "Rapture, October 28, 1992, Jesus is coming in the Air." Full page ad in the October 20, 1991, issue of USA Today, placed by followers of the Hyoo-go (Rapture) movement, a loose collection of Korean "end-times" sects. When the prophesied events failed to pass, much turmoil broke out among the sects.

1993 - David Koresh, self-proclaimed little lamb of Isaiah 16, and the Second Coming of Christ, died in a fiery conflagration with some 80 of his followers.

1994 - Arab Christian prophet Om Saleem claimed that the antichrist was born November 23, 1933, that his unveiling would come in 1993 and the rapture in 1994.

1994 - Harold Camping, a radio evangelist, wrote a book entitled "1994?" In it, Camping says, "if this study is accurate, and I believe with all my heart that it is, there will be no extensions of time. There will be no time for second guessing. When September 6, 1994, arrives, no one else can be saved, the end has come."

1997 - Mary Stewart Relfe wrote in 1983 that she had received detailed "divine revelations" from God. She released a chart showing World War III beginning in 1989, the Great Tribulation starting in 1990, and that Jesus Christ would come back in 1997, just after Armageddon."

1997 - On March 25, followers of Marshall Applewhite’s Heaven’s Gate cult committed mass murder-suicide in Southern California

1998 - Larry Wilson, a former Seventh-day Adventist pastor, predicted four massive global earthquakes beginning around 1994 and ending in 1998 with the Second Coming.[2]

Of course, 1998 was when Edgar Cayce said the world was going to end, wasn’t it? Hal Lindsay and Nostradamus had us checking out in 2000. The list could go on for as long as you were willing to read[3], but it eventually just gets depressing.

I'm not saying that, someday, one of them is not bound to be right. What I am saying is don't waste your life fretting about each new "prophet of doom." Live joyfully and love boldly each day as if it were your last; because one day will be.

However, if you enjoy the prognosticators of doom, it appears the next big date to circle on your calendar is when the Mayan calendar runs its course in December of 2012. Apparently Staples is all out of refills.

[3] A more complete list can be found at:
--Dr. B. Keith Murphy is the Associate Dean for the College of Arts and Sciences at Fort Valley State University.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Continuing education

Your friendly blog administrator is a little behind this week. You see, I opted to spend some time learning instead of doing. And it was a good decision.

Every summer, FVSU and other institutions of higher learning come out with a schedule of classes for adults. Some of them are geared toward seniors, others toward teachers who need continuing education credits to stay certified. Still others are aimed to help adults in the work force improve the skills they use on the job - or gain skills that would make their jobs easier. You can find the current FVSU offerings here: My understanding is that the satined glass course is really quite something.

So I spent two days this week in computer training, catching up on the software and hardware that has come out since I was in college (okay, so a fraction of it. The Internet wasn't even a thing when I was in college). I'm pleased to say I'll be back at my desk Friday, ready to put my new skills to use, feeling more effective and productive.

I'm sure the feeling will pass.

--Misty Cline works for the Office of Marketing and Communications