South Georgia State College officially celebrated the start of the 2017-2018 school year at Convocation on August 7th on the Douglas Campus. Convocation is an annual tradition that gathers the faculty and staff from all SGSC campuses and instructional sites to spotlight the successes and plans of the College and to welcome new employees.
SGSC’s newly appointed president, Dr. Ingrid Thompson-Sellers, along with the administrative team, new and continuing faculty, and members of the staff gathered for this year’s Convocation which was presided over by Vice President for Academic Affairs and Student Affairs, Dr. Robert Page. Dr. Page began the session by welcoming those in attendance and making the introduction of new employees. Faculty and staff members who have joined SGSC in the past year were recognized and given a welcome gift by Dr. Thompson-Sellers.
Following the new employee introductions, vice-presidents and directors representing the College’s divisions and departments each gave a brief presentation from their respective areas. Dr. Page highlighted the integration of student services and academics which has led to greater collaboration in terms of supporting and providing services to our students.
Other highlights included accomplishments of our athletic teams, both in their programs and in the classroom; the expansion of student life programming to include more activities and a more involved leadership presence from student organizations; and the growth of the two fully-functional STEM Centers on the Douglas and Waycross Campuses.
He shared there are several new academic initiatives which will be occurring this coming year to enhance the educational opportunities for students. He also pointed out that the Bachelor of Science degree programs in Biological Sciences, Management and Nursing will boast their largest classes this fall.
Mark Latham, vice president for fiscal affairs and administration, applauded the faculty and staff for helping work together to implement a variety of efficiencies this past year. He then thanked his team for their hard work in preparing and conducting maintenance of the facilities and campus grounds to properly serve students and guests.
Jimmy Harper, chief information officer and interim executive director of enrollment management, reported on several projects which will result in a more secure and robust infrastructure so future technology needs can be met. He discussed several new tools have been put in place to assist with student recruiting and enrollment efforts which will enhance the student’s service experience. Plus, a new mobile-friendly website is scheduled to launch this fall that will enhance the ways prospective and current students can learn all SGSC has to offer.
Key accomplishments from the Office of External Affairs included increasing the College’s presence on social media, hosting several new alumni events, overseeing several community outreach projects, and co-sponsoring the inaugural athletic homecoming. Plus, through support from the SGSC Foundation and the James M. Dye Foundation, more scholarships were awarded this past year than ever before.
LaToya Curtis, assistant director of student financial aid and chair of the SGSC Staff Council, provided an overview of the new Staff Council and introduced its members. Ms. Curtis stated, “The Staff Council will serve as a united voice and advocate on issues that directly affect the SGSC staff. We want to provide the staff with a formal channel of communication to partner with SGSC’s leadership."
Dr. Thompson-Sellers presented remarks to the assembled group. She recognized the rich history and institutional legacy of the Douglas and Waycross Campuses and the good work and impactful difference they make in those communities and surrounding areas. She praised the faculty and staff for demonstrating to the University System of Georgia leaders and to our communities the ability of SGSC to stand on its own two feet and maintain our identity as an access institution serving the students with hard work, passion, and dedication.
As the institution moves forward, she plans to increase our footprint within our service area, the state of Georgia, and our neighboring states. “Instead of being a well-kept secret,” said Dr. Thompson-Sellers, “South Georgia State College needs to be in the forefront of the minds of students as they are making decisions about continuing their education.”
Dr. Thompson-Sellers pointed out the good work of the external affairs area as they continue to spread the word of SGSC. She also expressed appreciation to the James M. Dye and SGSC Foundations for assisting students through scholarship support and providing additional funding for key college initiatives.
She recognized our campus police department for gaining the recognition of being one of the safest campuses within the state of Georgia. Then she praised the faculty with several examples of those who have challenged themselves through professional development and continuous learning and who have received recognitions for the incredible work they do. She was also pleased to present the pass rate of 96% - 98% for nursing students’ first attempt on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX), a significant accomplishment.
The past academic year, she had the opportunity to meet student-athletes during several events and she stated, “Our athletic program is undoubtedly bright because we have the most talented, brilliant, and engaging student athletes. I know the coaches and faculty challenge them physically, as well as academically. ” She also shared the news that the new SGSC travel bus will be on campus in the fall to further support the program by transporting athletes to away games. When no away games are scheduled, the bus will transport students between campuses to support their Hawk athletic teams.
In addition to the athletic teams, Dr. Thompson-Sellers recognized the importance of students having a complete college experience through strong academic and planned extracurricular programming. She talked about the commitment of the student life area to develop a number of activities to increase student engagement. She said, “I also welcome opportunities to meet with our students.”
At the conclusion of the program, Ryan Sconyers, director of human resources, along with supervisors from the departments, presented the employee service awards. Celebrating 25 years of service was Sara Selby, academic affairs project specialist. Celebrating 20 years of service was Peggy Moore, admissions assistant. Celebrating 15 years of service were Janice Williams, coordinator of the Waycross library; Randy Moss, grounds foreman; Jaime Carter, associate professor of nursing; Adrian Cook, professor of biology; and Glen Maul, professor of psychology. Celebrating 10 years of service were Daniel Warren, director of facilities; Melissa Williams, custodian foreman; Ralph Talbott, instructor of English; Lionell Bennett, bookstore assistant; Annette Lewis, network support specialist; Crystal Anderson, assistant professor of communications; Rebecca Griffin, assistant professor of mathematics; and Jeremy Petrella, instructor of history. Celebrating 5 years of service were Greg Tanner, dean of students; Amy Lee, campus police officer; Annette Nation, student support services coordinator; Hayley Scheeser, lecturer of communications; and Randy Yonz, instructor of physical education. Receiving special recognition and congratulations on their retirements were Sharon Williams, library assistant and technical assistant, with 16 years of service; Ellen Dyal, associate professor of education and reading, with 19 years of service; Anthony Hendrix, associate director of assessment and associate professor of sociology and psychology, with 28 years of service; and Duane Benson, associate professor of mathematics, with 35 years of service.
Dr. Thompson-Sellers reflects on Convocation by saying, “Convocation is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate our past achievements and plans for future success. I value the work of our faculty and staff, and I am looking forward to what we will accomplish this year.”