Administration from Utah State University (USU) visited Fort Valley State University April 18-19 and toured campus facilities.
Fort Valley State University President Dr. Paul Jones welcomed Utah State University (USU) President Dr. Noelle Cockett and her leadership team to discuss partnerships and collaborative opportunities between the two Land-Grant Universities.
Other administrators part of the USU delegation were Dr. John Cockett, associate vice president for advancement; Dr. Matthew White, vice president for advancement; Dr. Kenneth White, vice president and dean, USU College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences; Dr. Robert Wagner, vice president for instruction; Dr. Lisa Berreau, vice president for research; Dr. Richard Walker, associate dean for student development, Caine College of Arts; and Mr. Ty Couey, president of the National Historically Black College and University (HBCU) Alumni Associations Foundation and an USU alumnus.
The two-day visit included meetings between the senior leaders from both institutions to explore areas of mutual interests for pursuing collaborations. The USU delegation also had an opportunity to meet a few of the FVSU undergraduate and graduate students.
The visitors toured the College of Agriculture, Family Sciences and Technology, the Cooperative Developmental Energy Program, and the historic section of the campus. The tour began with presentations from agricultural research faculty in the FVSU Stallworth Biotechnology Building auditorium. After the presentations, guests participated in a tour of the animal biotechnology lab, reproductive physiology lab, medicinal plant biotechnology lab, nanotechnology lab, and the center for ultrastructural studies.
Noelle Cockett said she hopes to identify specific projects at FVSU that she can connect with faculty and staff at USU. She also mentioned developing a pipeline for an exchange of students. “I think once we can start getting the stream of students exchanged, that will really strengthen the partnerships with researchers,” she said.
Likewise, Berreau said after hearing from FVSU researchers, she noticed some overlap between USU and FVSU research areas. She mentioned that this overlap could lead to new collaborations and new projects, leveraging FVSU and USU’s strengths.
“What stood out to me the most is the excitement. The projects that I am hearing about concerning U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) funding, Department of Energy funding and the National Science Foundation funding sound promising. We have that same vibrant research environment at USU and I’m excited about what we might be able to do in the future,” Berreau said.
FVSU President Dr. Paul Jones said earlier this year, several members of the FVSU cabinet traveled to USU to tour the campus and discuss opportunities. He said some projects are currently underway.
“USU has a summer research program for undergraduates. We learned about the program during our visit, and they extended an invitation for FVSU students to participate. As a result, we have three agriculture students who will be working there this summer to do research in two different labs,” Jones said.
In addition, USU has a pre-veterinary program. Jones said that in 2022, USU was approved to start their own college of veterinary science, so a pathway is being created for FVSU students to attend veterinary school at USU.
He said this is a great opportunity for an 1890 and 1862 Land-Grant University to work together. “Hopefully, these visits will yield opportunities to strengthen the work we’re both doing, allowing both schools to have meaningful ways to connect,” Jones said.
During the final luncheon session, Matthew White shared thoughts about a sustainability plan for this partnership and Dr. Govind Kannan, vice president for economic development and land-grant affairs at FVSU facilitated a conversation about the next action steps. After final remarks by both presidents, the visit concluded.