FSU Hosts Military Appreciation Luncheon to Celebrate Military Service and Partnership

Date: April 17, 2024

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. There was hardly an empty seat in the room as Lieutenant General Christopher Donahue and Four-Star General (Ret.) Michael X. Garrett prepared to inspire over 200 audience members during the 2024 Military Appreciation Luncheon on April 15 in Fayetteville State University’s Rudolph Jones Student Center.

The event theme was Partnership, Community and Service, highlighting the powerful impact of communities working together to promote service leadership and social change. FSU Chancellor Darrell T. Allison praised the partnerships with the XVIII Airborne Corps and Ft. Liberty and the area’s academic institutions at Methodist University, Fayetteville Technical Community College, Cumberland County Schools and FSU.

Lt. Gen. Donahue was intentional about the partnerships he continued when he became the commanding general and senior mission commander of the XVIII Airborne Corps and Ft. Liberty. “Don’t show me organizations that are only hosting an annual military appreciation ceremony,” he said. “I want to work with the organizations that are consistently working to elevate the lives of our soldiers, future soldiers and this community.”

Gen. Garrett, who currently serves as executive-in-residence at FSU, assisted Chancellor Allison in strengthening FSU’s relationship with Ft. Liberty and LTG Donahue. “Gen. Garrett was the one who really challenged me to grow this relationship from the military side,” said Lt. Gen. Donahue during the panel discussion.

Chancellor Allison listening to Lt. Gen. Donahue talk during panel discussion

Chancellor Allison moderated the discussion between Gen. Garrett and Donahue with questions about the importance of service and servant leadership.

“Every successful leader I’ve watched leads by personal example,” said Gen. Garrett. He proudly said he never took the stairs while he was in the army. Until he noticed a large group of people waiting for the elevator. Gen. Garrett introduced himself and joined them in the elevator. He said he always took the elevator afterwards “because that’s where the people were, and every single person matters” to a servant leader.

The three-person panel recognized that service is not only relegated to service in the army. “I think everyone should serve. It may not be in the army. It could be teaching in the medical field, but we should be personally invested in successes and sometimes failures of our country,” Gen. Garrett said.

Lt. Gen Donahue added service is dedication to improving the community and country through an act fueled by belief. “You have to believe in something, and as leaders it’s our jobs to make sure the people around us believe in serving others,” he said.

As FSU continues to support students as the next generation of leaders, supporting military service members academically is a priority. That hasn’t gone unnoticed.

FSU ROTC Cadet Smiling

“I’ve been active duty for nine years and intentionally selected FSU because of the institutions efforts with the military,” said FSU Student and Senior Cadet Andres Buitrago. “Listening to Gen. Garrett and Lt. Gen. Donahue enforces what service leadership is and helps frame the mindset of officer as I prepare to commission as an officer soon.”

FSU has offered free tuition to qualifying military-affiliated students through the military tuition scholarship since 2022 to reduce financial barriers for military connected individuals with no access to Department of Defense (DOD) tuition assistance. Active duty, members of the National Guard or Reserves with an honorable discharge, military spouses of active-duty service members or veterans, children or other recognized legal dependents of active-duty service members or veterans qualify for the military tuition scholarship.  Approximately 33% of FSU’s nearly 7,000 students are military affiliated.

Lt. Gen. Donahue concluded the discussion with simple instructions to be a great servant leader and growing other people’s love for service.

Lt. Gen. Donahue talking at the Military Appreciation Luncheon

“First, Love your people. If you love your people they’ll trust you. Be competent and always learn. If you’re competent your people will trust you. Make service fun,” he said. “And when things are going bad, instead of yelling, ask ‘What help do you need.’”

To learn more about opportunities for military affiliated students visit add webpage or contact Cierra Griffin, Ed.D., the executive director of the Office of Adult Learners, Transfer and Military Students, by email cgriff13@uncfsu.edu.

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