Dec. 9, 2013 - At Fort Valley State University’s most important events, he is always there, quickly snapping shots of the memorable and historic moments at the university. Those unfamiliar with Marketing and Communications’ staff may wonder, “Who is the man behind the camera?” This month, the FVSU Review features Robert Ross in its Alumni Spotlight. Besides working as the official photographer, Ross served as a past president for the FVSU National Alumni Association, Inc. and the Fort Valley Area Alumni Chapter. He also generously gives back his time to his local community.
Ross is a Fort Valley native. As a child, he attended Peach County Public Schools, and graduated from H.A. Hunt High school. In high school, Ross debated about which school to attend.
“Believe it or not, FVSU gave me a beginning,” Ross said. “About five people in my family graduated from Fort Valley State. My parents could not afford to send me somewhere else. Actually, I wanted to go to Tuskegee University, but my Dad said 'No. That money’s going to Fort Valley.' He said, ‘You can go wherever you want to go, if you can pay for it.’ Coming out of high school, I didn’t have the money, so I ended up going to FVSU and I’m so glad that I did.”
The FVSU alum enrolled at the university, where he studied under the tutelage of the university’s greatest scholars. He took classes from the renowned Dr. Donnie Bellamy, a professor in the department of history, and the founders of the university’s social sciences department: Drs. William Samuel M. Banks II, Earl H. Pierro and Stanley Rutland. In 1968, he graduated from FVSU with a bachelor’s degree in social sciences with a concentration in history.
After graduation, Ross completed additional courses at the University of Georgia and Georgia College and State University. Additionally, Ross served for 34 years as the FVSU Learning Resource Center's media services coordinator, ensuring that the program provided electronic media services to departments across campus.
Ross began taking photographs on campus, when a local editor, William Walter, from the city’s newspaper—The Leader Tribune—wanted to hire him as a freelance photographer. At the time, the small newsroom could not afford to assign personnel to take the pictures on FVSU’s campus. Walter purchased the film and Ross agreed to serve as the newspaper’s photographer.
Ross’ photographs have appeared in America’s top publications, including Ebony and Black Excellence. His work has appeared in Atlanta Daily World and countless news and lifestyle publications. He continues to cover campus and Wildcat sporting events throughout the state and southeast region. He also photographed the Atlanta Falcons Football team and the Freedom Bowl (now the Heritage Bowl) and covered special events, including Cooperative Developmental Energy Program field trips and award luncheons.
Throughout his photographic career, Ross has met many legendary leaders and entertainers including President Jimmy Carter, Johnny Cochran, Muhammad Ali, Ossie Davis, Dick Gregory, Reverend Jessie Jackson and Georgia's former governor, Roy Barnes. He also attended historic events that included the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.
Ross is also a lifetime members of the FVSU National Alumni Association, Inc. and the Fort Valley Area Alumni Chapter. He served as president of the National Alumni Association, Inc. from 2008 to 2010 and as the chapter president from 1999 to 2011. In 1997 and 1998, he served as the university’s homecoming chairman, and created the first homecoming website. Ross’ talents also extend to the publishing world: he served as the editor for FVSU's alumni newsletter,Vision. The photographer also served as the coordinator of the Fort Valley Alumni Chapter’s annual scholarship golf tournament, raising an estimated $30,000 during his tenure. As a District II representative for the FVSU National Alumni Association, Inc., Ross was instrumental in the associations' membership increase of 250 alums. He has also helped recruit more than 250 students to campus.
In addition to giving back to his alma mater, Ross volunteers inside the community at the Senior Citizens Center and Fort Valley Nursing Home. He is a certified bowling instructor for the Special Olympics and for 15 years, he coordinated the university's student bowling league, which was initiated in Dec. 12, 1973. He is also a member of Fort Valley’s Central Union Missionary Baptist Church where he serves as a trustee and a chairman of the Usher Board. He is also an active, lifetime member of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
Honored as the Alpha Phi Alpha's Man of the Year in 1999, Ross was recognized as the SGAE Distinguished Service Award in 1990-1991. In 1990, he was named Alumnus of the Year for Educational Services by the university’s social sciences department. Ross was also named Man of the Year at Central Union Missionary Baptist Church in 1985.
Christina D. Milton,writer
Fort Valley State University
Office of Marketing and Communications
(478) 825-6319, email@example.com