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Dreaming and Doing in The Valley: A Vision for Excellence Engagement ~~~~~~~~ Investiture Address By Ivelaw Lloyd Griffith, Ph.D. Ninth President of Fort Valley State University Fort Valley, Georgia April 11, 2014


Introduction Chancellor, Wildcat students, faculty, administrators and staff, alums, colleague presidents from Georgia and elsewhere, friends, family members, supporters, ladies and gentlemen all: first, permit me to thank you for that greeting and for your presence. My inauguration as the Ninth President of this grand university is not just about me; it is an occasion of institutional renewal. Mine is the charge to lead us into the future. But I am cognizant of the fact that we did not just magically get here. Our educational enterprise started with humble yet powerful dreams of 18 Black and White citizens who petitioned the Superior Court of Houston County in November 1895 for permission to establish a school “for the higher mental and manual education of the youths and children of Georgia.” There was power in their passion, but not in their purses. According to their petition, they had “no capital stock, but … have in hand property worth seven hundred dollars …”1 Indeed, it often was daunting. Bankruptcy lurked around survival corners on many occasions. One of the 1907 journal entries of Assistant Principal and Financial Agent James Torbert noted: “Several times I was compelled to mortgage my horse and buggy, and twice my house and farm for small sums of money to meet our demands, paying banks 12 percent, and in case of some individual lenders as much as 20 percent for the use of money. In negotiating the first loan of $150 not a man in the town of Fort Valley was willing to trust us without collateral. …”2


See Donnie D. Bellamy, Light in the Valley: A Pictorial History of Fort Valley State College Since 1895 (Virginia Beach, VA: the Dunning Company Publishers, 1996), 11, 12. 2 Ibid,15.


Thus, this Ninth Presidency builds on the tremendous work of those who labored long and hard in the educational, political, and financial vineyards since 1895—the previous principals and presidents; the faculty, administrators, and staff who taught, mentored, and nurtured our students; the alums whose gratitude and passion obliged them to pay forward with their time, talent, and treasure; the Regents and the Federal, State, and local public officials and community leaders whose voice and vote enabled the institution to cope with various challenges and pursue many opportunities over the decades. I pay tribute to them all. Moreover, I applaud current faculty, administrators, staff, Regents, public officials, community partners, and other stakeholders for your laudable work in aiding the transformation of the lives of young and not-so-young dreamers. To the current Wildcat students, I thank you for the confidence you have reposed in us. We pledge to do justice to that confidence. Keep on keeping on! I am thankful to the members of my family, and to friends and supporters— both personal and institutional—for coming from near and from far to celebrate this occasion of institutional renewal. Francille and I have two wonderful children, Shakina Aisha, who lives in New York, and Ivelaw Lamar, who lives in California, and we are delighted that they are able to spend a few days with us. We will make some time to play tennis together before they return home and, as good parents, the First Lady and I will allow them to win a game or two. Other family are here from New York, Florida, and here in Georgia—Ms. Jackie Lammy, Mr. Eon Odle, and Mrs. Jean Wright. It also is wonderful to see friends from places where I have had the privilege to practice the teaching and scholarly arts, and to learn and to lead; from Florida International University in Miami—my big sisters Dr. Rosa Jones and Dr. Barbara Bader, and my former boss and mentor, Dean of Arts and Sciences Emeritus, Art


Herriot; from Radford University in Virginia, now at The University of Texas, Pan American—Dr. Paul Sale; and from York College in New York—President and mentor Dr. Marcia Keizs; Business School Dean Dr. Alfred Ntoko; Assistant Provost Dr. Holger Henke; and Chair of Business and Economics and a member of our Global Initiatives Council (GIC), Dr. Olajide Oladipo. To Mr. Johnny Taylor, President and CEO of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund—who I call my Fund Brother—I value your friendship and support, as I do that of Mr. Austin Thompson, CEO of Thompson Management Consulting. I appreciate, too, having my friend and member of our GIC from Ohio, Dr. Vince Adams; and former Provost of North Carolina Central University, Dr. Kwesi Aggrey from North Carolina. Other friends also have come from that state are City University of New York Vice Chancellor Emeritus Dr. Garrie Moore and Mrs. LaVonne Moore. Whenever we see a commercial or a poster about the Lion King we remember that night in Manhattan years ago: Broadway and then Chinatown for dinner. Francille and I have valued friendships right here in Georgia, some of decades-old vintage and others recently cemented. Some of these friends are here. Among them are Mrs. Marilyn Farley-Thompson; Dr. Ivor Mitchell of Clark Atlanta University and Chair of our Global Initiatives Council; Mr. Neil Wray; Dr. Kellwyn Thomas of Morehouse Medical School and his wife pediatrician Dr. Claudette Heyliger-Thomas; Dr. William Thomas and Thelma Thomas; Dr. Averil Van Putten from Atlanta Metropolitan University and her husband Leroy; gastroenterologist and Honorary Consul of Barbados in Georgia Dr. Edward Layne and his wife attorney Bernie Layne; Dr. Hector Butts of Shabin Business Services; Mrs. Roberta Byrum, who recently retired as Chief Operating Office of the Arthritis Foundation; and Mr. Basil Blackman of H&R Block.


I value the counsel and support of environmental engineer and member of the Global Initiatives Council Samuel James; Regent Larry Walker; and of Judge Bryant Culpepper, who is a member of the GIC. Thank you all for being here. I especially appreciate those friends and colleagues who travelled from very far, including Professor Dr. Victor Opadeyi, Vice Chancellor of my alma mater, The University of Guyana, and Mr. Vincent Alexander, the University Registrar and a friend of almost four decades; veterinarian Dr. Godfrey Spring, a close friend since our early teenage years, who came from the Bahamas. Also coming from the Bahamas are Dr. Carolyn Rolle and husband John, Ambassador (Ret.) Missouri Sherman-Peter, also a member of our Global Initiatives Council. Thanks, too, to Dr. Desmond Thomas, coming from Barbados. From the United States Virgin Islands, my long-time friend and scholar-inarms, Dr. Dion Phillips of the University of the Virgin Islands, and big sister Dr. LaVerne Ragster, president emeritus of that University. Special thanks to the two people who travelled the furthest—from the United Kingdom: Dr. Joan Nwasike, a member of our Global Initiatives Council, and her husband, Mr. Stephen Garrett. We live on a large planet, but in a small world: Joan‟s mother taught me in grade school—or, as we called it in Guyana, primary school. Later, I helped her sister, Janice, enter medical school. And, I did not know Joan at the time. This investiture ceremony is but one of the events of our packed Inauguration Week. Designing and delivering these events have involved a tremendous amount of hard and creative work by a large number of staff, faculty, students, alums, and members of the religious and civic communities. And, all of this was done while they were undertaking their normal and customary duties. This incredible endeavor has been spear-headed by Vice President of External Affairs and Executive Director of our Foundation Dr. Melody Carter and a planning


committee. The full list is named in your program. Please join me in applauding them for their splendid work. Why Dream (and Do)? Roman philosopher and statesman Lucius Seneca is credited with saying: “Fortuna est quae fit cum praeparatio in occasionem incidit,” the English translation being “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” Yet, luck revolves around chance, and it lacks the kind of intentionality needed for the Dreaming and Doing required to help transform the lives of individuals and communities. One of my intellectual heroes, educator and spiritual leader Benjamin Elijah Mays, who is honored on our first Wall of Wisdom, was prescient in saying: “The tragedy of life doesn‟t lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy lies in having no goal to reach. It isn‟t a calamity to die with dreams unfilled, but it is a calamity not to dream.”3 But, one might ask, why dream? Harlem Renaissance literary giant Langston Hughes answers the question poignantly. Incidentally, Fort Valley hosted Hughes on several occasions, the last time being in June 1953. In his 1926 poem, “Dreams,” he implores us—nay, commands us—to Hold fast to dreams For if dreams die Life is a broken-winged bird That cannot fly.


The first Wall of Wisdom, located in the Academic Classroom and Laboratory (ACL) building, was unveiled on March 6, 2014. It carries inspirational words from Dreamers and Doers who have inspired me over the years and who I have used to inspire others: Aristotle, Benjamin Mays, Bob Marley, George Santayana, Maya Angelou, Mother Teresa, Barack Obama, Rabindranath Tagore, Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, Oprah Winfrey, and Michelangelo. Walls will be unveiled in all 70 existing buildings over ensuing years, and new ones will be erected in new structures. Building occupants will decide which 12-15 inspirational figures will be honored on their Walls.


Hold fast to dreams For when dreams go Life is a barren field Frozen with snow.4 Yet, while Dreaming is necessary, it is not sufficient; Doing also is required. Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore, whose wisdom also is captured on the first Wall of Wisdom, reminds us: “You can‟t cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water.” Moreover, as the Good Book (James, 2: 12-17) instructs us, “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, „Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,‟ but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus, also, faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” (My emphasis) Alums who Dreamed and Have Been Doing Our University has been alive for almost 120 years, guided by Faith and doing lifechanging work. There is abundant evidence of this. Time permits only sharing a minuscule bit of this evidence. We have produced hundreds of distinguished educators, such as Dr. Anne Gayles-Felton, Class of 1943; Rosie Lewis Rosser, Class of 1946, who became the first African American woman to obtain a fouryear degree in Haralson County, GA, and taught school for 40 years during the time of segregation; Ulysses Byas, Class of 1950, who was the first black superintendent of schools in Alabama and the author of several books; and Dr.


Langston Hughes, The Dream Keeper and Other Poems (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1932), 7.


John Blasingame, Class of 1960, who went on to secure his doctoral degree from Yale and later served there as Professor and Chair of African Studies for 29 years. Then there is Dr. Peyton Williams, Jr., Class of 1964, who later served as principal of Central Elementary School and of Central Middle School, the first integrated school in Screven County. Later service included work as Georgia Deputy State School Superintendent for External Affairs and co-facilitator of the Georgia P-16 Initiative, a statewide effort to raise expectations and ensure student success. We also produced Dr. Traci Jackson, Class of 1986, the award-winning principal of the nationally-recognized Shirley Hills Elementary School in Warner Robins, who received the 2011 National Blue Ribbon School Award and the Terrell H. Bell Award for leadership. Some of our distinguished alums went on to lead higher education institutions. One such is Dr. Samuel D. Jolley, Jr., Class of 1962, who once led Morris Brown College here in Georgia; Dr. Cordell Wynn, Class of 1964, served as president of Stillman College in Alabama; Chancey T. Wright, also of the Class of 1964, led Cheyney State University in Pennsylvania; and Dr. Robert Jones, Class of 1973, who was installed last year as President of the University at Albany in New York.5 He attended Homecoming last fall, and has accepted my invitation to deliver our May 2014 Commencement Address. We have produced noted entrepreneurs and civic leaders such as Tommy Dortch, CEO of TWD, Inc.; J. Mack Willis, President and CEO of Summerset Assistant Living Facility; Dr. Krystal Conner of ENVIRO Ag Science; Therman McKenzie, former Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of M &


Two alums also served as presidents here: Dr. Cleveland William Pettigrew, Class of 1943, 1973-1982; and Dr. Larry Rivers, Class of 1973, 2006-2013.


M Products Company; and Charles Robinson, President and CEO of Atlanta‟s Sadie G. Mays Health and Rehabilitation Center. Furthermore, we also have given the nation and the world formidable athletes, such as Leon J. (Stan) Lomax, Class of 1943, who was later our long-time head football coach and was inducted into the Georgia Football Hall of Fame and National Football Hall of Fame; Catherine Hardy-Lavender, Class of 1952, who won a gold medal in the 4x100 meter relay at the 1952 Helsinki Olympic Summer Games; Lonnie Bartley, Class of 1983, who won 10 SIAC Tournament Championships and took his teams to the NCAA Tournament 18 times. We are proud of Nick Harper, former Cornerback for Tennessee Titans; of Tyrone Poole, who played 13 seasons in the NFL, earned Super Bowl rings with the Patriots in Super Bowls 38 and 39; of Ricardo Lockette of the Seattle Seahawks, which won the 2014 Super Bowl a few months ago. Earlier this year the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference inducted Wildcats Lonnie Bartley, Greg Lloyd, and Tyrone Poole into its first Hall of Fame class since 2000. We have produced dentists, engineers, physicians, and scientists, such as Dr. Julia Clark, Class of 1960, now at the National Science Foundation; Dr. Danena Lewis-Gaines; and geologist Jerome Murphy, Class of 2001, now with Exon Mobil. Not only did we help fulfill the dreams of individuals, we did so for entire families, such as the Marable‟s and the McCrae‟s: Dr. Lawrence Marable, Class of 1980 currently the President of our National Alumni Association; Dr. Ulysses Marable III; Dr. Stanley Marable, Class of 1983; Dr Michael Marable, Class of 1979; Dr. Sylvester McRae, Class of 1975; Dr. Lillie McRae Searcy, Class of 1958; Dr. Matthew McRae, Jr. Class of 1970; Dr. Freddie McRae, Class of 1972; and Dr. Keith McRae, Class of 1981.


Notable State jurists and legislators also are products of this university, including Edith Ingram, Class of 1963, Sparta County Probate Judge; Willie Earl Lockette, Class of 1971, Dougherty County Superior Court judge; Georgia State Senator Freddie Powell Sims, Class of 1972; Representative Brian Prince, Class of 1988; Representative Willie Talton, Class of 2006; Representative Calvin Smyre, Class of 1970, current Dean of the Georgia House of Representatives, past president of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators, Chairman Emeritus of the Democratic Party of Georgia, and Chair of our Foundation Board, among other things. Servants of the people at the local level also have been shaped by our university. One such proud alumnus is Fort Valley Mayor Barbara Williams, who served on the Fort Valley City Council for 16 years before becoming Mayor. She also has the distinction of being the first black female band director in the state of Georgia. Our zone of pride includes more recent alums, such as Betsy Ampofo, Class of 2007, from Macon, who in a few weeks will be Dr. Betsy Ampofo, graduating from Cornell University with a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology. Also from Macon is Mr. Brian Tukes, Class of 2012, who currently works in the Office of Governor Nathan Deal as a Public Safety Specialist and will be graduating in a few weeks with his Masters of Public Administration from the University of Georgia. Then there is Jasmine Bowers, Class of 2013, who was named to the 2014 Young Futurists list, and identified as one of the nationâ€&#x;s rising stars by The Root, an Internet news and opinion site that is published by the Slate Group. Thus, one can understand how as Wildcat-in-Chief I am Wild about the Wildcats!


Current Dreamers and to-Doers We Dream and Do because of current students, such as  Rena Ingram, a Chemistry major who graduates in a few weeks, and is already a published co-author in the journal Chemical Communications.6 Plus, she received a $25,000.00 scholarship from Merck/UNCF, and is the only student ever to win the Board of Regents‟ Academic Excellence Award twice.  Twin sisters Raven and Portia Wilson, from Carrollton, GA. Raven is majoring in Commercial Design, and participates in Track & Field, Cross Country, and Softball. As a freshman she won the SIAC Championship, 3 rd place in 400 meter hurdles, All-Region, 400 meter hurdles, 4x100 meter relay and NCAA DII Two Time All-American. Portia also is majoring in Commercial Design and participates in Track & Field, Cross Country and Softball. She won the 200 meters, 55 meter dash, SIAC Athlete of the Year, SIAC First Team AllConference, 100 meter dash, 200 meter dash, 1st place 100 meter dash, 1st place 200 meter dash, 1st place 4x100 meter relay, 1st place 4x400 meter relay, AllRegion, NCAA DII Three Time All-American.  Joshuah Eugene Davis from Augusta, GA., a basketball star athlete who is part of our dual degree Cooperative Development Energy Program. He is majoring in Mathematics here, and will go on to study Mechanical Engineering at the University of Arkansas when he graduates in a few weeks. He has played 69 games, scoring 583 points during his three seasons here.  Tennis scholar-athlete James Nick Hernandez from San Antonio, Texas. This 22-year old biology major received the honor of being named Fort Valley‟s 6

See Chemical Communications. 2013, 49, 5378-5380, available at!divAbstract.


2014 male athlete with the highest GPA: 3.95. He was a member of the 20112012 men's regular season 15~0 champs and also the discus champion that same year. He earned all-conference honors for doubles, and second team allconference for singles. Educational and Economic Points of Pride We have many reasons to be gratified about contemporary points of pride. For instance, our College of Education has been:  Recognized by the University System of Georgia‟s Teacher Preparation report as the State‟s top producer of teachers of color (87%). Thus, it is little wonder that we have had100 percent employment rate for all 2013 program completers.  Ranked by the Online College Database as one of the "Top Colleges in Georgia Shaping the Next Generation." Online College Database honors those postsecondary institutions in the state that graduated the most education and teaching professionals in 2012. Moreover, for two consecutive years (20112013) eight of our first year teachers have been recipients of the Teach Grant sponsored by Georgia Power.7 In the Agriculture, Family Sciences, and Technology area,  Our Veterinary Science and Public Health program continues to be one of only 22 similar programs in the country accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association. Moreover, we are researching energy crops to reduce the dependence on foreign oil. For example, sorghum is being studied because it makes large plants and its sugar can be converted into different types of


To be eligible for the grant, candidates must be in the top 25 percent of their class academically, be a first-year teacher employed by a public school in Georgia, and demonstrate a high aptitude for teaching. They are nominated by the faculty in the College of Education.


advanced biofuels. The fast-growing Paulownia tree is also being studied as a renewable energy source and for lumber.  Researchers are looking for plants that can provide an alternative to current therapy that uses radiation and chemotherapy. One plant, Scutellaria, may reduce hardship on patients because its compounds may only target cancer cells as opposed to normal cells. Scientists are focusing on identifying which of this plant‟s species may have high medicinal potential, and then multiplying those species, particularly those that may be endangered. So far two species appear to have high anti-cancer properties, and show promise in arresting the growth of brain tumor cells.  We are addressing the niche market for goat and sheep production, we make ice cream and soap from goat milk, and we assist small businesses interested in selling these products. We produce goat jerky, and our Small Ruminant Research and Extension Center, the largest of its kind east of the Mississippi River, sits on 21 acres and has built a notable reputation locally and abroad. For the College of Arts and Sciences,  Louis Stokes Scholar Dwayne Daniels, the Chemistry department chair, and Fulbright scholar George Mbata, the Biology department chair, recently returned from a lecture tour in Nigeria, and Historian Peter Dumbuya is spending this year as a Fulbright research Scholar in Sierra Leone doing research on the effects of Sierra Leone‟s civil war on women.  The Department of Biology ranks among the highest programs in the State of Georgia for students being accepted into Medical, Dental and Pharmacy Schools from public universities, and last November, computer scientist Dr. Cheryl Swanier was selected as one of Ebony Magazine's 100 Most Influential African Americans in 2013.


In the graduate Studies area,  Our Master‟s Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling and Case Management is one of only two in the University System of Georgia, and it is the only fully online degree program of its kind in the entire University System of Georgia.  In the area of School Counselor Education, the Master's level students have had a 100% pass rate on the GACE School Counseling. Our Dreaming and Doing of the last several decades have made us not just a formidable educational enterprise, but also an economic one, sustaining lives and livelihoods of individuals and communities within and beyond Middle Georgia. For example, the study conducted in 2013 by the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia showed that FVSU had a combined economic impact of $157.2 million and generated almost 1900 jobs in 2012, just in relation to Macon, Bibb, Taylor, Houston, Peach, and Crawford counties. Output impact measured what was spent: Personal Services: $74,186,558; Operating Expenses: $23,023,441; student Spending: $59,999,968; total: $157,209,967. This impact was greater than that of Macon State ($149,676,491), Albany State ($156,068,831), and Savannah State ($147,546,203).8 Moreover, our Landowner Initiative for Forestry Education (LIFE) workshop, an educational outreach service developed to reduce land loss in Georgia‟s black belt counties and instruct small and limited-resource farmers how to increase forest and farmland profitability, has conducted over 30 statewide programs for some 1,342 participants. The Free Wills Clinics have saved Georgians over $226,000 by offering participants over 392 free legal documents.


For the study, see


Values and Imperatives Clearly, though, we cannot be comforted merely with pride of past performance and current educational and economic value. There are future dreamers whose dreams we are obliged to help fulfill. Thus, we must recognize our challenges and pursue the opportunities that derive from them. These pursuits must be guided by six cardinal values: excellence, efficiency, continuous improvement, transparency, respect, and inclusion. These cannot be merely platitudinous incantations; they must be lived. In relation to excellence, for example, in his dictum that is inscribed on our first Wall of Wisdom Aristotle reminds us of the importance of habituation: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” These values must be bolstered by emotional fortitude, in the sense used by Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan: “It takes emotional fortitude to be open to whatever information you need, whether it‟s what you like to hear or not. Emotional fortitude gives you the courage to accept points of view that are the opposite of yours and deal with conflict, and the confidence to encourage and accept challenges in group settings. It enables you to accept and deal with your own weaknesses, be firm with people who aren‟t performing, and to handle the ambiguity inherent in a fast-moving, complex organization.”9 We have the good fortune of being a part of a forward-looking University System, and my team and I fully embrace the two over-arching goals of the our System‟s Strategic Plan in relation to Completion and Excellence; to “accelerate higher education‟s commitment to educational attainment, accountability,


Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan, Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done (New York: Crown Business Publishers, 2002), 78.


partnerships, performance, value, and global competitiveness;” and to “ensure the continual improvement of programs, curriculum, learning outcomes, and assessments” by “placing an emphasis on academic program reviews, accreditation standards, faculty development opportunities, and pedagogical improvements.”10 A fundamental challenge in pursuing these and related goals is the challenge to change; change some of the “what,” the “how,” and the “with whom” of our enterprise in order to deal with four critical R‟s: Recruitment, Retention, Release (graduation), and Resources. Along with these four R‟s we have the opportunity for enhancements in an A: Athletics. Meeting these challenges requires that we embrace three Imperatives: Innovation, Globalization, and Partnership.11 Dream and Do: The Innovation Imperative Will Rogers was both flippant and factual in saying: “Even if you are on the right track you will get run over if you just sit there.”12 For us, both institutional adaptation and individual behavior modification are needed; some things need to be jettisoned, others altered, and many added for us to better meet the needs of contemporary and future dreamers. Thus, we have launched:  An Honors Program, to recruit high achieving students and bolster retention. Founding Director, Political Scientist Dr. Meigan Fields and the Advisory Committee are working prodigiously to lay the many intricate foundation stones for this academic edifice that I envisage becoming a named Honors College in six years. We have the first modest gift for the Program from the Blue Bird 10

See the Strategic Plan, available at Time and space constraints permit attention here only to the first two Imperatives. The matter of Partnerships will be addressed later. 12 See Thomas Friedman, The World is Flat (New York: Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux, 2005), 336. 11


Corporation, and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund is helping us to secure the funds to award every Honors Student a technology scholarship. We have joined the National Collegiate Honors Council, and we are now recruiting the Charter Class of 100 students.  An Undergraduate Research Program to create university-wide opportunities to promote and facilitate student engagement in research and other creative activities in order to demystify research, increase knowledge about its nature and methodologies, and secure competitive advantage for graduate and professional school and the workforce. The Program builds on the existing episodic research engagement by undergraduates, mostly in the STEM areas and with faculty who secure grants. It is important that students in all disciplines—whether in the STEM, Humanities, Social Sciences, or Education—are enabled to have such experiences. Indeed, we made a small but valuable step in that direction last November in sponsoring two English majors—Mr. Anthony Boynton and Ms. Shanice Honeycutt—to present papers at the Harlem Renaissance Conference at Paine College, along with their mentor, Dr. Carolyn Hall. The Program is guided by Founding Director Dr. Sarwan Dhir, a professor of Biotechnology, and Founding Associate Director Dr. Andrew Lee, a professor of Speech and Mass Communication. Just last week—on April 2, to be exact—our University Leadership Council13 listened with pride to two of the three student-scholars, Jasmine Scott, Ashley Norris, and Brandon Beaty, who had spent this year‟s Spring Break in the United Arab Emirates—on their first transcontinental trip—


Our University Leadership Council comprises all Cabinet members, Deans, Department Chairs, and Directors. It was established in August 2013 to enhance inclusion and transparency and provide feedback and guidance on major policy and programmatic initiatives. It is chaired by the president, meets twice a semester, and works electronically between meetings.


presenting their research at the Fourth Annual Global Science and Technology Forum, guided by faculty mentors Dr. Sarwan Dhir and Professor Seema Dhir. Importantly, also,  Last fall we launched a Dreamers Fund for Excellence Engagement, to support the Honors Program and the Undergraduate Research Program.  Demographic dynamics suggests the wisdom of adopting a rainbow recruitment strategy that intentionally recruits across all racial and ethnic groups. Furthermore, expansion of our Army ROTC is being explored.  The Energy Conservation Program launched last fall, called Blue and Gold goes Green, has begun to pay off, with energy savings of over $200,000 between October and December 2013, compared with the same period in 2012. We also are thankful for the generosity of my friend Dr. Cynthia Jackson-Hammond, President of Central State University. She sent us a two-member team so we can benefit from their $20 million energy savings experience. Savings also will accrue from the replacement of paper with technology—Sharepoint—in our processes related to faculty reappointment, promotion and tenure from this spring.  We plan to introduce soccer as our 12th sport, to provide recruitment and retention synergies, and boost athletics fund-raising, among other things. Plans also are afoot for a Center for Homeland and Global Food and Allied Security. As I noted to the team of faculty and administrators at the initial meeting on the project last fall, food security is not just about agriculture. There are teaching, research and extension opportunities related to making healthy food choices, marketing, and logistics in order to reduce food spoilage in transportation from farm to families, among other things. This venture will allow us to capitalize


on our already considerable land-grant physical, research, and teaching capabilities and to explore new synergies across our colleges. Dream and Do: The Globalization Imperative In my September 2013 Huffington Post blog I noted that global interdependence is a reality that our university can ill afford to ignore. Consequently we must design and deliver a global engagement strategy to sustain and extend the international linkages that currently are episodic, and exist mostly in our College of Agriculture, although the college of Arts and Sciences has some such. This strategy will be connected to our mission of teaching, research, and community service.14 Our Global Initiatives Council is a key aspect of executing this strategy. Formed in September 2013, with the inaugural meeting held on United Nations Day (October 24), it comprises 40 national and international businessmen, diplomats, and academics that support our global endeavors, along with a few FVSU students, faculty, and administrators.15 The newest Council member is Ms. Sebrena Sumrah-Kelly of Caribbean and American Global Business Connections. I invite all Council members in the audience to stand and be recognized. The Council‟s Mission is to enable us to “pursue a comprehensive international engagement agenda, in keeping with the University‟s educational and economic objectives and consonant with its strategic priorities.” Our intent is to become one of Georgia‟s top 10 public universities recognized for high-quality international programming by 2020.


For the full text, see 15 The full listing of the Council membership, along with the Mission, Aims, and other aspects of the Council, see


In terms of Aims, the Council will enable us to: 1. Recruit international students for undergraduate and graduate degree programs; 2. Acquire corporate, grant, foundation, international governmental and other resources to sustain teaching, research, and other initiatives; 3. Create sustained study abroad programs that include academic, cultural, and athletic exchanges; 4. Strengthen international faculty collaboration, especially in relation to opportunities to pursue research grants and contracts. Recruitment is the top priority. Current efforts focus on Brazil, Nigeria, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Puerto Rico, China, and Botswana. I am pleased to report that we signed out first international Memorandum of Understanding on recruitment and other partnerships with the University of Guyana just yesterday; April 10. Our recruitment efforts are guided by two key factors. One, because of our scholarship limitations recruits need to have full-freight capability as regards to tuition and all related support areas. Two, they must have the level of English proficiency that enables them to benefit from substantive course instruction. Funding, which is the next priority, will involve multi-year grants and entrepreneurship that leverage our land-grant assets. Dreaming about Future Dreaming and Doing This inauguration allows us to reflect on the “the yesterdays” and savor the “the todays.” But, it also is important to think about the “the tomorrows.” In this respect, as the year 2015 will mark our 120th anniversary we will establish a working group to celebrate that milestone appropriately. (The year 2015 also will


mark the 125th anniversary of the 1890 universities. Planning for that celebration has begun and we will participate in related events.) The 120th Anniversary Celebration Planning Committee will be led by 12 National Co-Chairs, with 12 being the number of decades of our existence. Among them will be alumnus Tommy Dortch, president and CEO of TWD Enterprises; Vice President of External Affairs Dr. Melody Carter; alumnus Glorie Chiza of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund; former Coca Cola executive Johnnie Booker; Hollis Towns, Vice President at NJ Press Media and Gannett Asbury Design Studio; Dr. Lawrence Marable, president of the National Alumni Association; and Dr. Joshua Murfree, our Athletics Director. The mandate of the 120th Anniversary Celebration Committee will be to design and deliver a program of activities over several months, to (1) recognize and honor the dreamers and doers of decades past, both dead and alive; (2) identify and applaud notable contemporary dreamers and doers, and (3) raise funds and re-brand to enable continued and more substantial dreaming and doing into the future. Conclusion So, Chancellor I accept your charge to guide well the Dreams Enterprise called Fort Valley State University. I accept this charge, with no illusions that it will be an easy journey, but assured that I can count on your wisdom and worth, and those of the Regents, alumni, our community, faculty and staff, and all well-meaning stake-holders. I do so mindful of Michelangelo‟s foresight in noting that “The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.” We must Dream Big and Do Big, conscious that all endeavors will likely not succeed, but ready to learn from mis-steps, and grow from strength to strength.


Let me end with the dream wisdom of two legends from the arts. One of them is long dead and was from another part of the world, but the other is alive and is from this great state. Hear the words of Rudyard Kipling, from his poem “If” If you can keep your head when all about you Are losing theirs and blaming it on you; If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, But make allowance for their doubting too: If you can wait and not be tired by waiting, Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies, Or being hated don't give way to hating, And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise; If you can dream - and not make dreams your master; If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim, If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster And treat those two impostors just the same:. If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools, Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken, And stoop and build'em up with worn-out tools:16

Finally, let us listen to the words of Gladys Knight‟s “The Dream,” from her 2013 CD called “Another Journey.” Let‟s listen. … 16

For the full poem and other writings, see


Ivelaw Lloyd Griffith, PhD Ninth President Fort Valley State University Fort Valley, Georgia April 11, 2014

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Inaugural Address of Dr. Ivelaw Lloyd Griffith, FVSU President  

Dr. Ivelaw Lloyd Griffith was installed as the ninth president of Fort Valley State University on Friday, April 11, 2014. For more details,...

Inaugural Address of Dr. Ivelaw Lloyd Griffith, FVSU President  

Dr. Ivelaw Lloyd Griffith was installed as the ninth president of Fort Valley State University on Friday, April 11, 2014. For more details,...

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