Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Apartment-style living on campus

When FVSU set out to build The Wildcat Commons, a $44 million, 5-building, 950-bed dormitory, in under a year, the surrounding communities watched in amazement. Not only was the residential complex completed on time and on budget, it is an attractive part of the sprawling campus.

The Commons filled to capacity for its inaugural fall semester. The suite-style dormitory includes a clubhouse that contains a 250-seat movie theater, a convenience store, a media lounge and recreation area, conference rooms and office space. Students have floor plans to choose from; some suites have four individual bedrooms, some as few as two. All have a central living area and kitchen. And again, they are handsome spaces.

So it should come as no surprise that an expansion of The Wildcat Commons is planned for this year. As FVSU's student population grows, so will its campus. Stay tuned for more big plans from Wildcat Country.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The buzz about Mr. FVSU

Young men and women alike on FVSU's campus are talking about the upcoming Mr. FVSU contest.

"It's about time," says Miss FVSU Yahntaye Martin of the first contest of its kind for male students. "Having a Mr. FVSU will be instrumental in recruiting."

It's this kind of forward thinking and attention to students of both genders that has FVSU in better shape than the national trend when it comes to male-female ratio. Crisis magazine reported that 166 African American women enroll in college for every 100 African American men. Yet at FVSU, 56 percent of the students on campus this fall were women; 44 percent men.

And yes, having strong male role models in the administration helps. Having great male recruiters helps. Having a president who eats his meals in the cafeteria with the students helps. But so will showcasing our best male students. And the Mr. FVSU contest is a great way to do that.

So mark it on your calendar: 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 13 in Woodward Gymnasium. The winner will compete in the Mr. HBCU national competition at Lincoln University in Missouri.

Monday, January 28, 2008

FVSU professor in Sierra Leone

In Sierra Leone for the 2007 Elections
By Dr. Peter A. Dumbuya
Associate Professor of History

The Aug. 11, 2007, presidential and legislative elections were the third set of elections to have been held in Sierra Leone since full scale civil war engulfed this West African nation in March 1991, and the first after the departure of United Nations peacekeepers. The civil war, during which an estimated 75,000 people were killed, was triggered when the Revolutionary United Front backed by Charles Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia, invaded Sierra Leone with the aim of overthrowing the All People’s Congress government of President Joseph S. Momoh in the capital city of Freetown.

Parenthetically, the work of British anti-slavery advocates like Granville Sharp and William Wilberforce led to the founding of Freetown in 1787 as the “Province of Freedom” for liberated slaves from the United States. It became part of the British Crown Colony in 1808. In 1896 Freetown was joined with the Protectorate of Sierra Leone which regained its independence from Britain in April 1961.

The military, led by young disaffected officers and soldiers from the war front, eventually ousted Momoh from power in April 1992 and established the National Provisional Ruling Council. In spite of a number of peace agreements, the civil war continued as the RUF expanded its war aims to include the removal of the NPRC and all foreign troops from Sierra Lone. In May 1997 and January 1999, the RUF, in collaboration with the military, seized power in Freetown and ruled briefly but with such brutality and destruction of life and property that President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, the winner of the February/March 1996 presidential elections, sought military assistance from Nigeria and the Economic Community of West African States to reverse the RUF takeover of power in Freetown in January 1999. The UN also sent in troops beginning in July 1998.

Following further RUF rebel advances toward Freetown in May 2000, the British government led by Tony Blair deployed an expeditionary force to Freetown initially to evacuate British and European Union nationals. This force ended up fighting a group of rebels holed up in a village about 35 miles from Freetown, and freeing hundreds of UN peacekeepers the RUF had held as hostages. British military intervention paved the way for the UN to expand the number of peacekeepers to 17,500 by the end of 2001. In January 2002, the government officially declared an end to the civil war. The first post-conflict elections were held in May of that year.

As a historian and a native Sierra Leonean, I have always taken a keen interest in the history and politics of Sierra Leone, more so when fighting began in 1991. I had visited Sierra Leone in 1996/97 and 1998 at the height of the war. I had never participated in direct electioneering campaigns for anyone before. So when a friend of mine (we attended the same primary and secondary schools in Kono District), an attorney by the name of John Lansana Musa, called to ask for my assistance with the 2007 elections, I was excited and promptly accepted the invitation. In Sierra Leone, unlike the U.S., election campaigns can only begin after dissolution of the national legislature, Parliament.

Initially, the National Electoral Commission had set July 28 as the date for the legislative and presidential elections. But for one reason or the other, the president did not dissolve Parliament until June. So the chairperson of the NEC, Dr. Christiana Thorpe, reset the date to August 11. Official campaigning for the elections began on July 10. There was no campaigning a day before the elections. In order words, campaigning and individual rallies for the 11 political parties that participated in the elections ended on August 9, 2007; August 10 was a day to cool things off. I arrived in Freetown on July 27 and returned to the U.S. on August 13, two days after the elections.

Unlike what is happening in Kenya since the presidential and legislative elections of Dec. 27, the elections is Sierra Leone passed off peacefully. In the first round of voting, no presidential candidate garnered 55% of the votes cast as required by the 1991 Constitution. In the run-off election the candidate we worked with, the leader of the All People’s Congress, won the presidency by a simple majority (he won by more than 54%) as required by the constitution. He is now president of Sierra Leone for a five-year term. In my next posting, I will discuss the issues and strategies that won the election for His Excellency President Ernest Bai Koroma.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Super Tuesday and the Magic 8 Ball

Are you ready for Tribulation Tuesday? February 5th, 2008, will be a day when the grand theatre of politics in our American republic goes onstage in a gala of electoral bloodletting, the likes of which have never been seen before. On that day, some 70 million registered voters in 24 states, including Georgia, will hold primary or caucus votes in which more than 2700 delegates, or 41 percent of the Republican delegates and 52% of the Democratic delegates, will be awarded. When the dust settles, there will either be clear leaders for the candidacies of both parties or the picture of the race will be even muddier than it is now.

If you think the Presidential campaign has already gone on forever, it is important to realize that, to date, less than 2% of the delegates available, nationwide, have been awarded. February 5th, or Super Tuesday, has become a critical point in the presidential wars simply because of the number of delegates up for grabs. This process of lumping primaries together began in 1984 when three Super Tuesdays were created and, along the way, these propelled Walter Mondale to his party’s nomination. Before the 1984 race, primaries were spread out, relatively evenly, throughout the campaign season. Yet many pundits believed that this formula gave the early primaries (traditionally Iowa and New Hampshire) too much influence on the outcome of the race. In 1984, many states, especially Southern states, began moving their primaries to earlier dates. Southern States began this rush toward February because they wanted to play a bigger role in picking the president. The “Southern impact” became evident in 1992 when a little-known governor of Arkansas, after getting drubbed in the early primaries, picked up enough momentum to win the White House by winning big in several southern states in ‘92’s Super Tuesday. That governor was Bill Clinton. By this year, Tsunami Tuesday has grown to such an enormous point that both the Democratic and Republican parties began stripping states of delegates if they tried to move their primary to a date before February fifth.

When the results are in Tuesday night or Wednesday morning, the question becomes, did this shoot-out serve its purpose? Will the results be so clear that they will allow us to crown a presumptive nominee in both parties so the “real” candidates can focus their time and money on winning in November? After all, isn’t that what Tribulation Tuesday is about? Many campaigns, such as Huckabee’s, are in financial trouble, others such as Edwards and Giuliani, are fading from contention, and some like Kucinich and Ron Paul were putting from the rough from the beginning. So shouldn’t the remaining electorate, and the rest of us playing the home version, know who the top dogs by February 6th?

My Magic Eight-Ball says, “No. Not necessarily.” On the Democratic side, at least, even though 1700 of the 2,025 delegates needed to win the nomination will be up for grabs on the fifth, matters may get even more confusing. The first fly in the soup for the Democratic candidates are the “super-delegates.” Super-delegates are elected officials of the Democratic party and members of the Democratic National Committee who, according to the Associated Press, 90% of whom will go to the national convention as uncommitted delegates. This means there are nearly 800 super-delegates, over one-third of the total needed for nomination, whose vote is not tied to the popular vote.[1]
The second bit of confusion for the Democrats may come from the fact that, while the Republican primaries are typically “winner-take-all” affairs, the Democratic events award delegates in a proportional manner based on rules that differ from state to state. As veteran Washington reporter Dave Helling explains:

Virtually all 24 states have adopted intensely detailed — and different — rules for awarding delegates. The rules are so dense, in fact, that few observers agree on how many convention delegates will be picked that day. . . . For the most part, Democrats will allocate delegates proportionately, based on primary votes for candidates who meet a 15 percent "viability" threshold.[2]

So, every Democratic contender who garners more than 15% of the vote should get delegates. As a result, instead of scoring big electoral wins from states like Georgia, the pot will be split. This process will not allow a candidate, even if they win every state, but by a close margin, to take a commanding lead. The inevitable result will be a quagmire turning the race into a long drawn-out campaign that may not be settled until the Democratic National Convention.

The Republicans have clearer rules, but aren’t necessarily in much better shape. While the results of Tsunami Tuesday may thin the field, unless McCain or Romney (or a real February surprise like Ron Paul) score a spectacular number of victories, two or three viable candidates will still emerge on Wednesday the sixth to continue the battle.

While this will make for grand political theatre and enormous revenue for sellers of advertising space; does the American public have the attention span to continue to be vigilant over the political process during such a long brutal campaign? This kind of political warfare is not as appealing, to some, as a season of American Idol or Survivor, yet some voters would prefer the campaign boiled down into an event they could Tivo™ and just phone in a vote at their leisure.

Long, grueling, and dirty presidential political campaigns were the norm in this country before the electronic media distilled the political game into a battle of image creation and thirty –second sound bites. Will Americans remain interested and invested in this political reality show until November? Or, like the problems faced by network television, will the millions of other entertainment choices out there begging for our attention win out?

Whatever the results, Tribulation Tuesday should provide an interesting exercise in the workings of our American republic. This is a time to not just cast our vote; but to pay careful attention to how the system works, or fails, to represent us. If you are weeping on Wednesday, it will probably be because you weren’t paying attention to the way the game was being played.

[1] Olemacher, Stephen. “Super Tuesday Won’t Decide Nominations.” Associated Press. , 24 January, 2008.
[1] Helling, Dave. “Super Tuesday Might Be Super-Confusing.” McClatchy Newspapers. 21 January, 2008.

Posted by Dr. B. Keith Murphy

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Laptops in the classroom

Professors, parents, students -

What do you think about students using laptops in the classroom for note-taking? Do you feel it increases the chance of distraction, having games and the Internet at the students' fingertips? Do you feel it's a more efficient form of taking in the information? Has anyone noticed that laptops help - or harm - the classroom environment?

There is a circle of thought that using computers - e-mail, instant messaging and, yes, blogging - cuts us off from interacting with other humans. That if fewer and fewer of our social and professional interaction is conducted face-to-face that we lose those skills necessary to polite society. Click on "comment" below to share your thoughts, both on laptops in the classroom and on social interaction.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

on-campus talent

I've been compiling the media resource list for our local newspapers and television stations. FVSU professors have been remarkably forthcoming with their information - thanks! I have areas of research and past activities for more than 30 professors now. And you won't believe some of the neat things our talented faculty have done.
For example:

Do you know who among you performed with both the Temptations Reunion Tour and the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey circus bands? (That one should be easy)

Which professor served as a Georgia Army National Guard Preventive Medicine Officer? (Not who you think!)

Do you remember who presented “Exotic Animal Evacuation” at the Georgia Department of Agriculture “Animals in Disaster” training here in Fort Valley in October of 2006? (Again, a surprise.)

Who attended The University of Edinburgh, Scotland, UK and has taught in Nigeria, the United Kingdom and the United States?

Who has served as an instructor, instructor trainer, and volunteer safety specialist with the American Red Cross?

And this one might be a gimme, but who is a Retired Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Army; Intelligence Officer and Aviator and has more than 8 years of law enforcement experience as Chief of Police/Director of Safety and Security on college campus and is Certified in Homeland Security, Level V, under the American College of Forensic Examiners International?

An impressive group of educators, indeed.

Posted by Misty Cline, Office of Marketing and Communications

Answers: Leonard Giles, Dr. George W. McCommon, Dr. B. Keith Murphy, Dr. Iheanyi N. Osondu, Dr. Clarence E. Riley, Jr, Michael L. Qualls

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Medicinal plant studies alive and well

Fort Valley State University symposium efforts continue nearly a year later

The information from a five-day symposium about the health benefits of medicinal and nutraceutical plants continues to have positive impact nearly a year later. Since last November, a 432-page publication has been available to researchers, professors and anyone else interested in learning more about medicinal and nutraceutical plants. The book is the result of the well-attended symposium called “A Roadmap to a Healthy Future” that was hosted by Fort Valley State University.

Last March, Dr. Anand Yadav, an FVSU horticulture professor, coordinated the event attended by nearly 100 scientists, educators and plant growers from around the world. More than 60 symposium presenters gave cutting-edge views of how plants make mankind healthier. There were many Power Point presentations that elaborated on research topics pertaining to plants.

These presentations, which were the result of research papers, have been transformed and compiled to create the publication entitled, “Proceedings of the International Symposium on Medicinal and Nutraceutical Plants.”

“Mankind has been using plants to treat illness and accidents since people began treating their cuts and wounds more than two millenniums ago,” Yadav said. “All we’re doing today is continuing that practice with newer tools of investigation.”

The symposium put a spotlight on today’s accelerated research of medicinal plants, Yadav said, and the book offers that research to the symposium attendees who want to revisit information presented at the event last year. Also, the book can be used by people who were unable to attend the symposium. “This publication will be used by the researchers and whoever else wants information about a technique compound. Teachers who want more information about plants can also use it,” said Yadav, editor of the publication that includes graphs and color photos.

Symposium participants, who traveled from 19 states and 23 nations, have been offered the publication. It is also available online at Abstracts about the 46 articles included in the book are available to view for free.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Honoring the dream

Martin Luther King Jr. Day events coming up at FVSU:


The Fort Valley State University community will honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s memory with a march and program Monday, Jan. 21. Marchers will gather at 9 a.m. in the Lottie B. Lyons Student Center parking lot at the end of Rayfield Wright Street, then walk to Trinity Baptist Church at 507 State University Drive.

The program begins promptly after the march. Heather Bryant, president of the Student Government Association, will host the event. The Fort Valley Area Community Choir are featured guests, joined by FVSU President Larry E. Rivers, who will present remarks. Pastors Gregory E. Moore of Trinity Baptist Church, Preston King of Antioch Baptist Church, Robert Roberson, K. Daniel Dawsey of Central Union Baptist Church and the Rev. Artha Grace, president of the Fort Valley Ministerial Alliance, will participate in the program.

“We hope students and the greater community of Fort Valley will join us to celebrate the father of the civil rights movement,” said Brian Byrd, program coordinator for the office of residential student life. “The purpose is to remember his dream and move forward – to keep striving to make that dream come to life.”

For more information, contact: Corinthia Lee at 825-6290.


Civil rights leader Martin Luther King dreamed of an America in which all people could live freely regardless of race or color. The Fort Valley State University Political Science Student Association and Phi Alpha Theta History Honor Society will recognize King’s contributions during an hour-long Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Celebration at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 22 in the Pettigrew Center. The tribute will be a reflection of Dr. King’s work to end racial segregation and prejudice in America.

During the program, organizers will provide an open microphone for audience members to share perspectives about how King's struggle against segregation and securing the right to vote impacted their lives.

FVSU’s Baptist Student Union Choir and the FVSU Pre-K Program will sing several selections at the memorial. Students will also read excerpts from the civil rights leader’s speeches as well as perform biographical sketches of King’s life and his wife, Coretta Scott King.

For more information about the program, contact faculty advisors Dr. Meigan Fields at (478) 825-6634 or Dr. Dawn Herd-Clark (478) 825-6657.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Serious work in the "funny pages"

The Macon Museum of Arts and Sciences hosted a “Comics Family Weekend” on Saturday, February 23rd where they exhibited original comic book art and hosted Marvel Comics artists. You might just be wondering why a museum would host an exhibit featuring the “lowly comic book,” much less calling the drawings of spandex-clad heroes “art.” Even comic book aficionados grew up being told that “those things would rot our brains.”

If you are still among those who hold the (mis)conception that comics are just “brain-candy” for adolescents, then you haven’t looked between the slick pages of a comic lately. Today’s comics aren’t your Daddy’s Archie. As a medium the comic book, or graphic novel, or sequential art as it is called in some quarters, has matured into a storytelling form that allows comic creators to combine art and the written word into powerful narratives that are rich with fully developed characters and laden with finely wrought questions of morality. If you’ve seen such films as 300, Sin City, Constantine, V for Vendetta, or A History of Violence, then you’ve seen Hollywood’s take on the modern comic book.

Creating comics aimed at adults is nothing new. Starting with the first appearance of Superman in Action Comics #1 (1939), most of the superhero, detective, western, police, and romance comics were aimed at adult readers. The action-packed pictures and exciting adventures, especially of the superheroes, were the lure that drew in younger readers. These children would pore over hand-me-down copies of comics that were often originally purchased as cheap entertainment by an adult. It was only when psychologist Frederic Wertham published Seduction of the Innocent (1954) in which he claimed that comics were dangerous to children because they contained too much violence and sexual innuendo that comics began their temporary slide toward children’s literature. He had some serious concerns about Batman’s relationship with Robin. No, seriously, he did. Congressional hearings followed, and the comic industry reverted to making comics just for kids. That lasted until the 1980s when the industry began to return to its roots and create compelling and powerful narratives.

One of the most important contributions the comic book has made to American culture is that it has served to enculturate millions of children in American ideals, values, and morals. Perhaps the greatest purveyor of this was the superhero genre, in which young readers were taught not only that good overcomes evil; but were taught to have respect for the legal system. Because even though Superman caught the bad guy red-handed, the accused still deserved his day in court. It didn’t take many comics to learn that we should all be working for “truth, justice, and the American way.” No better example of this is evident than during World War II when our caped heroes told readers how to help with the war effort. The Blue Beetle reminded us to recycle while Wonder Woman told us the importance of buying War Bonds to defeat the “Japa-nazis.” Similar crossovers between the comic book world and reality occurred after the tragedy of 9/11.

Finally, no matter how hard one tries to dismiss the genre, the pages of each comic book are an original work of art. From the fully painted “Duck” covers of Carl Barks work on Scrooge McDuck comics to the surrealist work of Jim Steranko in the 1960’s Nick Fury series for Marvel, each page is an original work of art. Pages from the 1940s can be worth thousands of dollars to collectors, while you can pick up pages from recent issues on Ebay for less than $100 for work from a new artist or from a less popular comic. Most comic pages are pen and ink (the color is added later via computer), but artists are now utilizing fully painted pages, pastiche, and many experimental art styles to create modern comics. The results can be absolutely beautiful, which is one of the goals of art.

So, please don’t just dismiss comics out of hand as “junk” until you’ve read a good graphic novel. If you’re interested in places to start, I would suggest Art Spiegleman’s Maus, Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes, Alan Moore’s Watchmen, or Frank Miller’s 300.

Dr. Murphy has published a number of articles on comic books including the recent book chapter: “The Origins of the Sandman.” In The Sandman Papers: An Exploration of the Sandman Mythology. Ed. Joe Sanders. (Seattle, WA: Fantagraphics Books), 3-22. He helped organize an exhibition of comic art in Fort Wayne, Indiana in 1995 and he appeared as a comic book character in the Dark Horse Comic Atlas (#1,2,3) by Bruce Zick in 1993.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

What's accreditation mean?

The departments of Mass Communications, Social Work and Business are in the process of applying for accreditation by their respective specialized professional agencies. To this end, each area has drafted an action plan which has been presented to administration.

Dr. Andrew Lee has been working on the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications proposal. The process takes three years but will, in the end, be worth it. “It’s a prestigious honor because of all the universities in the United States, only 110 are accredited – and only 9 are HBCUs,” said Lee.

“It opens doors for our students and provides an incentive for major corporations to give funds to the school. ACEJMC accreditation is one of the stipulations for receiving funding for major corporations,” according to Lee.

In the business department, Dr. Khaled Sartawi and his colleagues are reaching for accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business – International.

“It’s a five-year process,” said Sartawi. “You have to demonstrate that you are providing top-notch business education and providing access to the same technology available at major businesses. This means hiring the best faculty, who also do research. You have to immediately adjust your curriculum to meet the requirements.”

Seeking specialized accreditations benefit Fort Valley State University in the short term as well as the long term. “Having this accreditation,” explained Sartawi, “draws both top faculty and top students. The best students want to attend accredited institutions and the best companies want to hire those students. So it has an impact on everything.”

Only ten percent of business schools worldwide carry the AACSB stamp of approval, according to Sartawi. Fifteen of them are HBCUs.

For more on the debate, see a fellow blogger's post at:

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

FVSU Professors chosen as Glasser Scholars

Two FVSU professors will train at a premiere research institute developed by a psychology pioneer. Dr. Jeri Crowell, from FVSU’s School Counseling Program, and Gloria Cisse, a Valley Behavioral Health Services Counselor and Field Placement Coordinator for Social Work, were chosen as 2008 Glasser Scholars. Cisse and Crowell will attend a series of three intensive training courses in Choice Theory and Reality Therapy at the Glasser Institute, along with 12 other faculty members from around the country. Dr. Robert E. Wubbolding, the institute’s director of training and Chair of the Professional Development Committee, will supervise the training.

“Reality therapy is one of the most identified foundations for counseling in schools now,” says Crowell.

Reality therapy, a counseling method developed by Dr. William Glasser in 1965, is designed to help individuals reconnect to other people. It is based on his “choice theory” axiom: “Is what I’m doing getting me closer to the people I need?” If not, the therapist helps individuals choose better behaviors to accomplish this goal.

In exchange for the opportunity to attend the training session, Cisse and Crowell will conduct research for The Glasser Institute. They will also take a basic and an advanced practicum – where they’ll need to utilize the skills they’ve learned during the workshops and integrate the theory with practices and implement them in an environment.

“This training will enhance my counseling work with FVSU students, especially when the School Counseling Program begins accepting students in Fall 2008,” says Cisse. “FVSU will benefit from the opportunity by having in-house specialists trained in this theoretical orientation.”

Monday, January 14, 2008

In praise of healthy students

During the first week of the spring semester, word has apparently gotten out that FVSU cares about students on a personal level, as well as on an academic level. Several students have come to Valley Behavioral Health Service, Fort Valley State University’s counseling center, saying that they want to deal with some of their issues while they are not in a crisis. They heard about the free services last semester and decided to address some concerns this semester before they became big problems. The staff at VBHS is excited to work with anyone, and “This sort of maturity and courage is going to make a difference for them and the campus,” said Dr. Jerry Mobley, interim director of the counseling center.
More about FVSU's top-notch psychologists and professors coming soon....

Friday, January 11, 2008

Alumni vacation together

From June 7 to 12, FVSU alumni will gather aboard Carnival's "Imagination" cruise liner for an eastern Caribbean vacation. Wildcats of all ages will descend upon the Grand Cayman island and Ocho Rios, Jamaica. They'll spend two days at sea and have a great time catching up.
The FVSU National Alumni Association is taking reservation: $50 deposits are non-refundable and the balance is due by April 10. For more information, call Jackie Travel and Tour at 1.888.488.2430

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Answering the viability question

In response to a recent op/ed by Walter E. Williams questioning the necessity of HBCUs in the new millenium, FVSU President Larry E. Rivers wrote the following:

HBCUs and the Coming Era of Growth and Service

In recent days syndicated columnist Walter E. Williams has questioned whether Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) have outlived their usefulness and viability.
While desirous of affording Mr. Williams all due respect, please let me—as a veteran HBCU faculty member and, now, president—respond. Simply ridiculous.
Mr. Williams focuses his essay on a series of columns written by Bill Maxwell for the St. Petersburg Times in spring 2007. In them, Mr. Maxwell, who is a very well-regarded journalist and social critic, expressed his shock at experiences he faced during a temporary period of teaching at Stillman College.
Here’s what I think happened. In common with many others and very understandably, Mr. Maxwell’s perspective arose from his own college experiences during the 1960s. The institutions he attended during that tumultuous era nonetheless remained for the most part calm.
Since then, students have changed. Students virtually everywhere did. Sometime in the 1980s, attitudes shifted. The millennial generation now demands greater engagement of faculty and often refuses to afford faculty members the automatic deference and respect they previously had enjoyed.
Ask any experienced educator anywhere in the country about this. The problem was that Mr. Maxwell was a distinguished journalist rather than an experienced educator.
As students changed, so, too, did the world of HBCUs. Perhaps most fundamentally, integration of previously all-white institutions sapped HBCUs of many top-level students, academically as well as athletically. Those schools could offer far more financial aid and, perhaps, an easier introduction into white-oriented circles than could an HBCU.
This did not mean that these same students would not have benefited from the HBCU experience. It just meant that a better opportunity appeared or seemed to appear elsewhere.
Is it hard to perceive that HBCU family members resented this development? They resented, as well, the evolution of a sense of what former Senator Patrick Moynihan described as “benign neglect.” Public and private sources of funding constricted, as did support in other respects.
In time those resentments led to defensive attitudes and, eventually, to an inward-looking status quo rather than a sense of the need for reaching out. Changes going on in higher education generally, to which larger institutions were adapting, slipped by mostly unnoticed.
Thus, by the twenty-first century’s opening, many HBCUs were struggling financially, academically, and organizationally. Does this mean that they had lost their viability and outlived their usefulness?
The answer is no. Those institutions continued each year to turn out thousands of students who went on to very successful careers in the professions, government, the arts, and all other areas of endeavor. At their most fundamental level, the HBCUs succeeded and, often, succeeded well.
But, many persisted in not adapting and their reputation outside the African American community grew worse as the schools mostly declined to engage in a public debate or to emphasize all the very good aspects of the HBCU approach, including mentoring of students who are considered part of the family. I would contrast this to the “sink or swim” approach of more than a few large and predominately white colleges and universities.
Here’s the bottom line for me. HBCUs offer unique advantages to many students who are fully capable of going on to lead not only productive lives but also to contribute in substantial and sometimes marvelous ways to our country and our world. And, we should be held accountable in the strictest sense for doing just that.
Notice I did not suggest only black students. Without question HBCU’s need to adapt to what we at Fort Valley State University call “a more diverse twenty-first century.” Meanwhile, we must maintain the very best of the HBCU experience for all.
At Fort Valley State University we do not question whether we are viable. We are growing and increasingly will reflect greater diversity. We most certainly have not outlived our usefulness.

Larry E. Rivers
President, Fort Valley State University

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Georgia Trend and Dr. Rivers

FVSU President Named Among “100 Most Influential Georgians”

President Larry E. Rivers’ accomplishments at Fort Valley State University are attracting the attention of a prestigious publication with statewide readership. In its new January issue, Georgia Trend Magazine lists FVSU’s president among the “100 Most Influential Georgians.” The 10th edition release says Dr. Rivers is “putting his alma mater on a path for health and prosperity.” A profile recognizes the president for increasing FVSU’s enrollment, eliminating budget deficits, opening the Wildcat Commons on time and on budget; and developing new capital projects such as the $13.5 million student center and stadium. It’s the first time the listing has included an FVSU president.

This year’s roster also includes chief executive officers of Delta Air Lines, Home Depot and Coca Cola; Chancellor Erroll B. Davis; college presidents from the University of Georgia, Emory, and the Morehouse School of Medicine; and lawmakers such as U. S. Congressman Jim Marshall and Georgia’s Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle. Governor Sonny Perdue is named Georgian of the Year in the issue’s cover story.

Dr. Rivers is one of 29 new Georgians added to the list this year. He was selected after FVSU’s Marketing and Communications Department submitted an essay to the magazine’s editorial staff touting his accomplishments after only 18 months in office. Georgia Trend Magazine is an award-winning business publication. Below is the text of the article.

2008 Most Influential Georgians
Edited By Jerry Grillo
Published January 2008
There is no such thing as a perfect 10. What would be the point?
“Ring the bells that still can ring, forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything – that’s how the light gets in,” writes Leonard Cohen, one of the most influential poets and songwriters of the past 50 years.
In this, our 10th edition of the 100 Most Influential Georgians, we did not set out looking for the perfect roster. As always, our goal is to illuminate, perhaps educate, by shining a spotlight on 100 different individuals whose influence may be long lasting or short lived, subtle or obvious. These are the people, we believe, who prove that influence is power, not the other way around.
You will recognize most of the names on this year’s roster, the usual suspects, the CEOs, statesmen, college presidents and the like. There also are some you’ve possibly never heard of, people who cast their influence from behind the scenes.
This year’s list, whittled as always by Georgia Trend’s editorial staff, may seem very similar to last year’s – very little turnover this time, with only 29 new Georgians. Yet it also is one of our most diverse, with 20 women (only 12 last year, nine the year before that) and 23 people of color (19 last year, 17 in 2006).
These are the people who inspire us, infuriate us, serve us and lead us. In many ways, they are just like us. “The humblest individual exerts some influence, either for good or evil, upon others,” wrote 19th century progressive clergyman Henry Ward Beecher.
But for our purposes, these profiles were written by Linda M. Erbele, Jerry Grillo, Matt Hennie, Karen Kennedy, Bobby Nesbitt, Patty Rasmussen, Christy Simo and Katheryn Hayes Tucker.

Dr. Larry E. Rivers President Fort Valley State University Fort Valley Age: 55 Rivers has set his alma mater on the path to health and prosperity. Enrollment and the endowment have increased 20 percent while budget deficits have been eliminated, a $44 million student housing village opened in the fall, a $15 million science research facility is scheduled for completion in 2009 and a new $13.5 million student center and stadium is in the works.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Welcome, new students!

Spring is in the air, even though it's January. This week, FVSU is welcoming Spring semester students back to campus. After three weeks of "just us employees" it's amazing to watch the campus come alive again. The Wildcat Commons, above, is full of life again.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Coming up this week

Tomorrow morning, listen for our own Keishon Thomas on Mix 100.5, ABC radio. She'll be sitting in with Steven B's morning show, talking about the HELP workshop on Friday.
Friday, starting at 9:30 a.m. in the C.W. Pettigrew Center, the Housing Education and Long Term Planning workshop will be free and open to the public. Lunch will be served, so register soon to Keishon at 478-825-6577. There will be discussion on Wills and Estate Planning ("If you own more than the clothes on your back, you need a will," says Keishon.), Capital Gains Taxes, Georgia Medicaid Recovery Laws and Reverse Mortgages. All great topics, not things we think about all that often but definitely things we should understand. The event is sponsired by the FVSU Cooperative Extension Program, the USDA Risk Management Agency and the Knights of Pythagoras. See you there!

Friday, January 4, 2008


The Georgia Alumni Association of Black State Universities' 23rd annual Legislative Conference is coming up fast. Scheduled for Jan. 29-31, registration is due Jan. 21!
For those of you new to the Alumni world, GAABSU is a consortium of the national alumni associations of Albany State, FVSU and Savannah State. The legislative conference provides a forum for alumni and ofiicials to meet with policy makers to address the universities' common goals and concerns.
The location is the Holiday Inn Select Atlanta Capitol Coference Center, 450 Capitol Avenue in Atlanta. Participants have the option of registering for the whole conference ($125) or for individual events: the Student/Alumni Recruitment Luncheon, the Eggs and Issues Legislative Breakfast, the Legislative Luncheon or the Legislative Reception. Please contact Ms. Sibyl Cox at Fort Valley for more information. 478-825-6347.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Meet the Wildcats

Welcome to Wildcat Country - in cyberspace. For those of you unfamiliarwith Fort Valley State University, here's the back story:
The school was founded and chartered as Fort Valley High and Industrial School in 1895. Located in Peach County, Georgia, we're about two hours south of Atlanta and two hours north of the Florida line. We were renamed Fort Valley Normal and Industrial School in 1932 and included as a unit in the University System of Georgia in 1939. At that time we consolidated with the State Teachers and Agriculture University of Forsyth. The institution was renamed Fort Valley State College. The Board of Regents designated the University a land-grant institution in 1947. We earned the name Fort Valley State University in 1996. As a Historically Black College and University, we enjoy a rich sense of history while embracing diversity and preparing for the future.
Our eighth President, Dr. Larry E. Rivers, graduated from FVSU in 1973 before earning degrees from Villanova University and Carnegie-Mellon University. He earned another doctorate degree from Goldsmith's College of the University of London. He taught for 24 years at Florida A&M University, while rising to the position of dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. His return to FVSU in 2006 has sparked a period of rejuvenation and growth. New, apartment-style dorms have been added to the campus. A new Science and Technology building stands among many construction and renovation projects now in the works. The University endowment has grown exponentially. Freshman and overall enrollment growth are the highest ofall the schools in the University System of Georgia. Dr. Rivers was recently named one of the "100 Most Influentail Georgians" by Georgia Trend magazine. We enjoy great support from the residents and leaders of the city of Fort Valley and the state of Georgia.
This blog will introduce you to our professors and their work, our programs and scholarship opportunities, campus events of all types, and life as a Wildcat. Because the thing we enjoy most here at FVSU is knowing that Wildcats are family - no matter how far away you are.