University Affairs

USU Signs Agreement to Partner With HBCU Fort Valley State University

Fort Valley State University President Paul Jones and Utah State University President Noelle E. Cockett sign a memorandum of understanding between their two institutions at the FVSU campus on Oct. 28, 2022, in Fort Valley, Georgia.

LOGAN, Utah — Utah State University and Fort Valley State University have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) establishing a framework for the two land-grant institutions to collaborate and cooperate on activities of mutual interest. The universities announced the five-year agreement formally on Oct. 28.

The MOU specifically furthers the development of research collaboration, educational program development, student support, and involvement services, and to maintain and promote channels of cooperation and communication, promote faculty and student exchanges, collaborative training of students, and undertake joint or collaborative research, training, and outreach or public education.

The agreement comes after previous collaborations between USU and FVSU, an HBCU (historically black college and university). A contingent of leaders from FVSU, located in Fort Valley, Georgia, visited USU’s Logan campus in April 2022. USU leadership subsequently visited the FVSU campus in May. During the summer 2022 semester, three students from FVSU visited Logan to participate in a research internship program at USU’s College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences.

“Utah State University is excited to collaborate with Fort Valley State University as we formalize this agreement,” said USU President Noelle E. Cockett. “Our universities share many of the same research interests and educational goals, as well as our experience as land-grant institutions for our respective states. We anticipate this being a very fruitful and rewarding relationship, with both institutions reaping benefits. Most importantly, people of diverse backgrounds, cultures and experiences will become true and lasting friends.”

Fort Valley State University President Paul Jones, Ph.D., a USU alumnus, welcomed the partnership as well.

“I am ecstatic to have two institutions I love and cherish working together to advance opportunities that will have a positive impact on students, research, and training,” Jones said. “The partnership between Fort Valley State University and Utah State University demonstrates the power of collaboration and will serve as a model for land-grant and other universities to follow.”

Along with being a former USU Aggies two-sport athlete, competing in both football and track and field, President Jones graduated with a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from USU. Additionally, his wife, Sylvia Jones, is a graduate of USU. The two met and married as students at the university. Both were honored as USU Alumni of the Year in 2012. Both Jones’ children are USU alumni, with their son Isaiah working for USU as the orientation and family program coordinator.

The universities began considering the opportunity to partner after President Jones spoke with Tyrone Couey, president of the National Historically Black Colleges & Universities Alumni Association Foundation. Couey, a former USU alum himself, suggested the two universities might make great partners. USU leaders also wanted to connect with an HBCU, and President Cockett subsequently reached out to President Jones.

“We have already seen evidence of this partnership becoming a great model for other land-grant institutions to emulate,” said Govind Kannan, Ph.D., FVSU vice president for economic development and land-grant affairs. “I feel it is imperative that 1890 and 1862 institutions work together in providing a holistic learning experience for students and better preparing them for the real world.”

“As an institution, we have much to learn in partnering with an HBCU that is focused on teaching, learning and quality education,” said Robert Wagner, USU executive vice president. “We have some commonalities, but we also anticipate being able to learn from their experience and better meet the needs of our state and the USU student population.”

About Fort Valley State University

Fort Valley State University is a talent incubator for students who believe in their brilliance. Located in the heart of Georgia, FVSU combines the personal attention and family feel of a small, private college with the resources and research found at large public universities. Located on the second-largest acreage of any Georgia university, it is the only university in the world which at once is a University System of Georgia institution, a historically black university, and an 1890 land-grant institution, with a directive to use knowledge to improve the lives of students and non-students alike. Historically referred to as “the light in the valley,” FVSU’s legacy is built upon the belief that every human being is entitled to limitless learning and the benefits of knowledge. Leveraging the reputation for excellence FVSU has built since 1895, the university is preparing students to embrace their genius as future global leaders and enabling discovery which will make real that which is only now imagined. That’s why FVSU’s motto and tagline is “Empower the Possible.”

About Utah State University

Since its founding in 1888, Utah State University has evolved from a small agricultural college tucked away in the Northern Utah mountains to a thriving, multi-campus research university?known throughout the world for its intellectual and technological leadership. Utah State is a premier student-centered land-grant and space-grant university that fosters the principle that academics come first by cultivating diversity of thought and culture, and by serving the public through learning, discovery and engagement.

Officials from Fort Valley State University and Utah State University commemorate the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the two universities at the FVSU campus on Oct. 28, 2022, in Fort Valley, Georgia.


Emilie Wheeler
News Director
University Marketing and Communications

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