In what can only be classified as a "State of the University" address, Fort Valley State President Larry E. Rivers summed up the university’s status Tuesday in just eight words.
“Fort Valley State University is solid and sound,” Rivers told a gathering that included state legislators at the Agricultural Technology Conference Center to hear an update on the university’s efforts.
This year, the university has much to tout. It broke a fall enrollment record of 3,024 students, set in 1996, with a new record of 3,055 students. That number also was a 19 percent increase over the 2,562 students who enrolled in fall 2007.
The president’s next goal is 5,000. To get that number, however, he said the college needs more money.
“I just need support and more state allocation for financial aid,” Rivers said.
In the past 30 months, the university has set out on a $110 million capital improvement plan. Ground was broken last month on the $16 million third phase of Wildcat Commons, the university’s newest dormitory.
Rivers said a fourth phase in the university’s housing plan is in the works. It would add more rooms to the Wildcat Commons as well as renovations on Huntington Hall, to be used for administrative offices, and Ohio Hall, to be used for living space.
During the presentation, Rivers asked for help from the state Legislature.
He pushed for diversity at his institution and asked the lawmakers to do so as well.
“Anyone, regardless of race, color or creed, has an opportunity to matriculate at Fort Valley State University,” Rivers said.
Rivers said he wants the university to be able to implement competitive programs such as nursing and a Department of Veterinary Medicine for large animals.
State Rep. David Lucas, D-Macon, said he has pursued getting such programs for the university before. He said they are vital in attracting the diversified student body that Rivers desires.
Lee Fobbs Jr. is out as North Carolina A&T's football coach.
The school said Monday that it fired the coach, who had a 2-28 record in two-plus seasons. Running backs coach George Ragsdale has been chosen interim coach for the rest of the season.
The Aggies (2-6, 0-4 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) lost all 22 games during Fobbs' first two seasons before opening this season with a win over Division II Johnson C. Smith. The win snapped a 27-game losing streak.
But A&T has now lost six straight and is coming off a 42-7 loss to Delaware State. The Aggies have been held to seven or fewer points in four of their last five games. The only exception was a 28-27 loss to rival North Carolina Central, which is in the second year of its transition to Division I.
Fort Valley State officials recently broke ground for the construction of a $16.8 million academic building that will focus on biology and chemistry.
The 59,000-square-foot facility will contain seven biology teaching labs, five chemistry labs, a geology lab and a physics lab. In addition, it will have four regular classrooms, an 80-seat auditorium and research labs for faculty, among other amenities.
University president Larry E. Rivers said the building should be completed by the middle of next year and will serve as a vital recruitment tool as the university grows toward its enrollment goal of 5,000 students.
"We need this $20 million state-of-the-art science buildng because we are growing by leaps and bounds," Rivers said.
As several speakers noted during the groundbreaking, the building has been decades in the making and was made possible through funding from the state Legislature.
State Rep. Lynmore James (D-Montezuma) said he has watched the university grow and finds it imperative that its needs, such as the science building, are brought to the General Assembly's attention.
"What we're doing is for the future of the state and for the future of this nation," James said.
Senior chemistry major Geoffrey Turner will not get to enjoy the new facility, he noted, but said the present one provided him with the foundation necessary to graduate in May and pursue pharmacy as a career.
The new building, he said, will allow those who follow to go even farther.
"I'm excited for them, but a bit jealous also," Turner said.
A flash drive containing the social security numbers of more than 9,000 Tennessee State University students was recovered on Monday, September 15 after being missing for more than five days.
TSU President Melvin N. Johnson confirmed that a student, who had used the flash drive for saving a homework assignment, returned the drive at approximately 9 p.m. on Sept. 12.
Johnson did not indicate whether the student tampered with the information on the device, but informed the university that the flash drive is back in the university's possession and that state auditor would investigate further.
A financial aid counselor reported the flash drive missing Tuesday morning, Sept. 9, after discovering that it was no longer in her possession, administrators said.
The flash, which contained financial records of TSU students dating back to 2002. "The loss of this data is unfortunate," said Tennessee State Provost Robert Hampton. University personnel began notifying students the same week about the security breach, although no attempts to use the data had been discovered, administrators said.
Students’ reactions ranged from disappointment to anger.
"I think it's irresponsible. I really think that someone misplaced it, but that kind of stuff should be closely guarded," said Charity King, a senior nursing major from Nashville, Tenn.
"I feel that it is ridiculous and irresponsible for them to be unorganized, unorthodox and unprofessional," said Damarrion Fleming, a mechanical engineering major from Louisville, Ky.