Acting president named for Fort Valley State

A Fort Valley State administrator will serve as acting president for the university starting later this month.

Jessica Bailey, provost and vice president for academic affairs, was announced as the choice to take over presidential duties from Ivelaw Griffith, who recently announced his resignation, on May 16. She will become interim president on July 1 after Griffith’s contract ends on June 30.

“We’ve already started a positive trajectory for the university,” Bailey said. “I want to encourage and continue that progress.”

Griffith has drawn criticism in some quarters for failing to create positive relationships with alumni and other potential supporters during his time as president.

Besides goals for enrollment and bolstering academic offerings, Bailey said she hoped to make strides in the area of community relations.

“I think it also entails that we have to strongly connect with our supporters in the community, including our alumni,” she said.

The move was announced in a release from the University System of Georgia on Monday.

“Jessica has an extensive academic background in higher education and is well qualified to provide leadership at Fort Valley State during this time of transition,” said Hank Huckaby, chancellor of the university system.

“With Jessica’s experience as part of the leadership team at Fort Valley, she can step in and ensure a thoughtful transition supporting our students and leading faculty and staff.”

Griffith’s widely publicized departure was announced in late March. While no specific reason for his resignation has been given, he will remain in the university system as a special projects coordinator.

Bailey, a graduate of Coppin State University and the University of Missouri, has served in various positions at Winston Salem State University and at Virginia Union University.

She noted that she had no plans to pursue the post permanently at this time.

“That’s something I have not even thought about,” she said.

To contact writer Jeremy Timmerman, call 744-4331.