Fort Valley State inauguration rooted in optimism

mstucka@macon.comApril 11, 2014 

FORT VALLEY -- Fort Valley State University President Ivelaw Griffith was inaugurated as the college’s ninth president Friday morning, but students said he’s already made a difference.

Griffith said “I accept” when formally offered the presidency. He said in a speech that his mission is to build on the history of the school since it was founded in 1895, while also bringing about “institutional renewal.”

“I can see that he’s been trying to put things in the right direction,” said junior Cedric Colyer, of College Park, who has been a student under Griffith since he took office in July. Former President Larry Rivers stepped down in June.

Griffith has brought more campus activities and has improved academics and overall school spirit, leading to more of a sense of community, Colyer said.

“I’ve recommended it to a couple of my friends since Mr. Griffith” came, he said.

Leshean Boyland of Marietta said students are getting more diversity through Griffith’s efforts to bring in international students. The university seems to be on the right track, and students are more enthusiastic, said Boyland, who expects to graduate after this fall semester. As a drummer in the Blue Machine Marching Band, it’s his job to literally keep things upbeat, and he did so as he led students into the university gym where the ceremony was being held.

During Friday morning’s inauguration, a host of dignitaries wished Griffith well, including Fort Valley Mayor Barbara Williams, a Fort Valley State graduate. Most offered sentiments like those expressed by U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Albany: “I am convinced that he has the vision to lead this university to an exciting, dynamic and successful future.”

Cheryl Davenport Dozier, president of Savannah State University, offered advice on helping a school that, like hers, is considered a sacred, historical place.”

“As you embrace the spirit of collective work and responsibility, remember this African proverb: ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. But if you want to go far, go together,’ ” Dozier said.

Marcia Keizs, president of York College of The City University of New York, knows Griffith from her college, where he was a professor of political science, provost and senior vice president. She told an assembled group of Fort Valley State students, staff and faculty that they were in good hands.

“Your president is both a dreamer and a doer,” she said.

Rashad Robertson, president of the Student Government Association, said students wanted a president who would be a leader, scholar and visionary. They found all that in Griffith, he said. Robertson spoke of the optimism, enthusiasm and support that has come to the campus since Griffith took office.

To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.

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