Dalton State College will have a new president — only the fifth in the college’s history since it was chartered in July 1963.
John Schwenn, the college’s president since March 2008, said Monday he will retire on Dec. 31.
During his tenure, Schwenn has increassed the number of bachelor’s degrees offered at the college from six to 17, led efforts to increase retention and graduation rates, expanded the college’s physical presence into Gilmer County and developed the college’s first residence hall, which opened in 2010. He has also overseen the growth of faculty and student research.
“President Schwenn has provided productive leadership for Dalton State College,” said system Chancellor Hank Huckaby. “He has worked to ensure the college’s critical access mission while also balancing the region’s workforce needs through the identification and development of targeted bachelor degree programs. His tireless efforts on behalf of the college and its students have served northwest Georgia well and his leadership will be missed upon his retirement.”
Schwenn’s presidency focused on increasing the number of full-time students and the number of students pursuing bachelor’s degrees. Half of Dalton’s approximately 5,000 students are seeking bachelor’s degrees.
The area’s Hispanic population has also been on Schwenn’s radar. The percentage of Hispanic students enrolled at the college has increased from 10.8 percent in fall 2007, prior to his arrival, to 19.3 percent in fall 2013.
Under Schwenn’s leadership, the campus has seen major changes in its appearance, including new residential housing, Westcott Hall renovations, a bell tower named for former college president Jim Burran, a parking deck, a renovated facility for athletics and a recreational gym. A new science building will open for summer classes and renovation is set to begin on a building to house health profession programs.
Before coming to Dalton, Schwenn was vice president for academic affairs at Emporia State University in Kansas, where he was also interim president. The state Board of Regents chose him from a list of 88 candidates.
Schwenn grew up in La Crosse, Wis., and he said he and his wife of 36 years, Judy, first met in the fourth grade. The Schwenns lived in Cleveland, Miss., from 1976 to 1989 when he taught at Delta State University. The couple lived in Kansas for 18 years.
Read Tuesday's Daily Citizen for a complete report on this development.