December 13, 2012

Schwenn: ‘A remarkable year for Dalton State’

It has been a remarkable year for Dalton State College.

Against the backdrop of sluggish economic recovery and the continuing flood of financial cuts, we accomplished many amazing things on our campus. From the introduction of new academic programs to progress on physical facilities to honors and awards, it has been a banner year of achievement for Dalton State.

We broke ground on our first new academic building on campus in more than a decade and will soon have exciting new labs, research and lecture spaces for our growing programs in chemistry and biology.

We introduced a new bachelor’s degree program in nursing, providing a valuable education option for working nurses who wish to move up the ladder to a higher degree and meet the standards of our medical community.

We welcomed a cohort of Belgian students from a sister university in Brussels. They took classes at Dalton State and gained work experience interning with local companies. In addition, we entered into agreements with two Korean universities for educational and cultural exchange and this fall welcomed our first Korean exchange student.

Acting on the expressed wishes of our students, alumni and members of the community and following the results of a feasibility study, we launched an intercollegiate athletics program and hired Athletic Director Derek Waugh. By year’s end, we have coaches in place for men’s basketball, women’s volleyball, tennis and competitive cheer and soon hope to announce coaches for golf and cross country.

In addition to whipping up enthusiasm for Roadrunner athletics, Derek has been successful in creating partnerships with sports venues and practice facilities around town that will bond the college tighter with our community.

Since Jan. 1, 2012, the college has hosted 50 concerts, lectures, screenings, plays, guided hikes and conferences that were open to the community. Most were free; all were illuminating, enlightening and entertaining.

Work was completed on a network of hiking trails on the mountain-side of our campus. The trail system not only serves as an outdoor learning environment but is also a valuable recreational resource for the college and community.

The Terry College of Business Selig Center for Economic Growth reported that Dalton State provided a record $122 million in economic impact to the northwest Georgia region, up 6.7 percent from the prior year.

Our School of Education was named The Distinguished Program in Teacher Education for 2012-2013 by the Georgia Association of Teacher Educators.

Christy Price was named the 2012 U.S. Professor of the Year for baccalaureate colleges by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education for her transformative work engaging millennial learners in the classroom. Only four professors receive this honor each year.

The extraordinary value of a Dalton State education was recognized for a second time by the U.S. Department of Education which listed us again on its Transparency and Affordability List for low tuition and low net cost. In addition, Dalton State was just named a Low Debt School by the Institute for College Access and Success in its report “Student Debt and the Class of 2011.”

It has been said that the virtue of adversity is fortitude, and I have witnessed that time and again this year within the Dalton State community. Amid the challenges that have confronted us, I have seen strength and resilience that is inspiring.

Michael Chriszt, vice president of the Atlanta Federal Reserve’s research department, visited our community last month as a guest of our school of business’s Center for Economic Research and Entrepreneurship. He spoke on campus, to the Rotary Club, and in town at City Hall. After leaving here, he blogged about his visit, which he had expected to be bleak based on his research on how the recession has impacted our area.

However, Chriszt wrote, “I traveled to Dalton fully expecting to find a city depressed and its people disheartened. What I found was quite the opposite … I found a vibrant spirit of resilience and realism … If we can find such a great spirit in the hardest-hit metro area in the Southeast, there’s good reason to be optimistic about the future.”

That strong resilient spirit is alive and well on the campus of Dalton State College; we are prepared to meet the challenges of 2013. Happy holidays to you and yours.

John O. Schwenn is the president of Dalton State College.

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