Issue 7: April 2020


Georgia Southwestern Athletics assembles over 200,000 face shields amid COVID-19 pandemic

Georgia Southwestern’s Department of Athletics is doing their part to address the nationwide shortage of protective masks and shields in partnership with Americus-based equipment manufacturer TSG Resolute. As of Friday, May 1, coaches, student-athletes and other helping hands have assembled over 200,000 face shields in just under 3 weeks helping to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to those working on the front lines.

GSW's work is in addition to that already being done at TSG Resolute's facility, effectively increasing the amount of PPE being assembled and delivered to healthcare providers across the country. While the local business does not typically manufacture PPE, they have shifted their time and resources to meet the need.

Mike Leeder, GSW Director of Athletics, explained the project's simple beginning that one day Governor Kemp tweeted about TSG Resolute making these shields and the orders started to roll in. Reagan Barksdale, owner of TSG Resolute, in conversation with GSW President Neal Weaver, thought it would be a great opportunity to have the coaches pitch in after the Peach Belt Conference canceled the remainder of the spring season in mid-March.

"Usually, our role is to educate and to prepare people for the workforce, but during this crazy time, we are still a state agency, and the state needs our assistance," said Dr. Weaver. "GSW remains committed to our community and we have a local business that can help solve a problem so the partnership fits."

Learn more about the project here.

Athletics staff with masks

Georgia Southwestern State University named 2020 Best Value College in Georgia

GSW earned a spot as one of the Best Value Colleges in Georgia for 2020 by Textbook Rush based on the affordable cost of attendance and the reasonable early and established career earnings of graduates.

"With the rising cost of higher education and the uncertain times we're currently living in, affordability has become an increasingly important topic when making a college decision," said GSW President Neal Weaver. "Earning a college degree shouldn't cost a fortune, and it certainly shouldn't come with years of debt. We want to ensure that every student's path to college is not hindered or put on hold by this current health crisis."

In their search for best value colleges in Georgia, Textbook Rush looked at traditional four-year schools and identified which colleges provided the best opportunity to earn a good income post-graduation without breaking the bank to get there. Put another way, students who graduate from these colleges earn the most money relative to what they paid to attend.

Learn more here.

Georgia Southwestern donates over 5,000 pieces of critical PPE to local hospital and mental healthcare institution

GSW’s College of Nursing and Health Sciences and Department of Public Safety recently donated much-needed personal protective equipment (PPE) to Phoebe Sumter Medical Center and Middle Flint Behavioral Healthcare. There's been a nationwide shortage of PPE during the COVID-19 pandemic, and GSW has been supporting local partners from the start.

The University System of Georgia (USG), in partnership with Governor Brian P. Kemp and Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency (GEMA), requested the state's public universities and colleges to redirect any spare PPE, and other critical medical supplies, to healthcare workers fighting COVID-19 across the state.

GSW's public safety and nursing staff coordinated efforts to inventory and collect their supplies, which are typically used for everything from research and campus maintenance to nursing programs and on-campus health clinics. Before the supplies list made it to the USG, Phoebe Sumter and Middle Flint had already reached out for assistance.

Between the two entities, GSW was able to donate 4,000 gloves, 900 surgical face masks, 600 shoe covers, 600 hair covers, 300 polyethylene gowns, 75 surgical gowns and 75 N95 masks.

Learn more about the donation here.

Officers give away supplies


Commencement alternatives for Spring 2020 Graduates

President Neal Weaver and his wife, Kristi, recently made a very special announcement to share with the GSW family, especially Spring 2020 graduates.

"We know some of you were supposed to graduate in May, and that is such a special time for you and your family and even for us. We're really gonna miss that. So that's why we've created a Virtual Graduation Ceremony that's scheduled for May 15th. That was going to be your day and it's still going to be your day. We're excited to celebrate with you in a virtual environment. And so we'll be sending you a letter early in May that gives you instructions on how you can participate in the virtual ceremony. It will also include a very special gift available only to graduates of the Spring 2020 Class.

And even though we're doing this virtual ceremony, we still want you to come and celebrate with us in person. That's why we've created a Summer Graduation Ceremony that's scheduled for August 15th. We're going to include the summer graduates at that time as well, but I want to give a special invitation to those graduates from the Spring 2020 Class to come back to campus, put on your cap and gown, and walk across that stage, and let us celebrate with you in person. I'd love to see you, your families, your friends, and all of us get together and make sure we recognize your great accomplishments."

Watch or read the full announcement here.

University System of Georgia announces no tuition increase for 2020-2021 academic year

The Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia (USG) met Tuesday, April 14 to approve a recommendation of no tuition increase for the 2020-2021 academic year.

If approved, there will be no increase for any USG student. Students will pay the same tuition rates at all 26 USG institutions for the 2020-2021 academic year as they do now for the current 2019-2020 academic year.

“One of the University System of Georgia’s top priorities is affordability, and that has never been more important than now for our students and their families,” USG Chancellor Steve Wrigley said. “We are all trying to navigate an extraordinary time. It is more critical than ever for our institutions to provide a quality education while maintaining the affordability and accessibility that helps more Georgians attain a college degree and find success in the workforce.”

Read more here.

Spring 2020 Textbook Buyback and Rental Return

The Spring 2020 semester Textbook Buyback will be held virtually. To get started, go to and click on the 'Textbooks' dropdown tab and select 'Sell Textbooks'. Spring textbook rentals are to be returned by 3:00pm on May 20, 2020. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you can either drop off rental returns to the Student Accounts Office in the Marshall Student Center Monday through Friday from 9:00am to 4:00pm OR you can ship rental books back to the Bookstore. 

Please send to:
Campus Bookstore
800 GSW State University Drive
Americus, GA 31709  

Shipments must reach the Campus Bookstore by May 20, 2020. GSW is not responsible for shipping and handling charges or lost/damaged/delayed shipments. You can contact the Bookstore via email at for questions.

Volunteer assistant softball coach on the front lines as full-time paramedic

One first responder’s passion for coaching has been put on hold. Nick Spanolios is a volunteer assistant coach for Georgia Southwestern State's softball team. He's also a full-time paramedic at Gold Star EMS in Sumter County.

During times of panic, he's found his years of coaching offers a unique sense of calmness among his group.

“In times of chaos at work, I kind of feel like you know if we’re losing in the seventh inning of a game I can kind of rally a team that way. Well I can kind of rally the group of workers that I work with to come together and calm down and let’s focus and let’s get through the rest of this day correctly because it’s chaos right now,” said Spanolios.

In this chaos, Spanolios told us there’s an undeniable void in life since the NCAA canceled all spring sports.

"Not having softball is the biggest struggle for me, because it was an outlet for me to escape from EMS. Because we see a lot of good and we see a lot of bad. So it was a great escape, almost a way for me to compartmentalize work from play. And I know people consider softball work, but for me, that’s my stress relief and how I get through the day,” said Spanolios.

Read more from WALB here.

Student Recognitions

Golf team racks up post-season recognitions

Despite their season being cut short, GSW’s golf team has racked up a number of recognitions for the 2019-20 season.

  • Vincent Norrman – 2019-20 PBC Men’s Golf Player of the Year
  • Vincent Norrman – 2020 PING All-Region Southeast team
  • Saksit Jairak – 2020 PING All-Region Southeast team
  • Saksit Jairak – 2019-20 PBC All-Conference
  • Simon Estrada – 2020 PING All-Region Southeast team
  • Simon Estrada – 2019-20 PBC All-Conference
  • Elias Birkeland – 2019-20 PBC Men’s Golf Team for Academic Distinction

BCM makes care packages for international students

After their spring break mission trip was cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns, students with GSW's Baptist Collegiate Ministry (BCM) are making care packages and weekly to-go dinners for international students who were unable to leave campus housing in March.

“Each care bag included a water, some treats, an encouraging note, and a devotion on Psalm 23,” campus minister Brian Puckett explained. “College students will always find a way to keep reaching out, no matter the circumstances!”

Read more from The Christian Index.


Fisk publishes article on perception

Can unconscious perception occur without attention? Dr. Gary Fisk, professor of psychology, and his collaborator Steve Haase recently addressed this question in an article published in Visual Cognition. Briefly presented words an unattended location had no effect upon perception when the visibility was very low. There was a small effect though for unattended words that were marginally visible. This finding demonstrates the importance of selective attention for normal perceptual processing.

Kutzler continues local history series for newspaper

Dr. Evan Kutzler, assistant professor of history, continued his local history series with three articles in the Americus Times-Recorder. Published in February, “Finger Lickin’ Modernism: Americus’s First KFC” explores the modern architecture and history of Americus’s old Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant on Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.

In his March article, “Lost and Found on Elm Avenue,” Kutzler recounts his discovery of a 160-year-old book during a run and his journey tracing the book’s history.

His latest article, “The Conscript and the Freedom Fighter,” explores the similarities and differences between two African American Civil War veterans buried at Andersonville National Cemetery.


Palmer publishes op-ed in AJC

Debbie Palmer, associate professor of psychology, recently published an op-ed in the The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The piece was written in response to another piece by Maureen Downey published on April 22, which covered “piling on the work and assessments” ahead of finals.


Olsen publishes article in Ms. and TIME

Dr. Jennifer Olsen, director of the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving and experienced epidemiologist, recently published an article in TIME titled “Rural America Needs Help From the Rest of the Country to Face COVID-19.” The article covers some of the difficulties facing rural communities during the pandemic, such as distance to resources and medical care.

Olsen also published an article in Ms. magazine titled “Invisible Front Lines: Family Caregivers and Fighting COVID-19.” The piece focuses on caregivers and the challenges they are facing during the coronavirus pandemic.


Kutzler appears on episode of NPS’s Ranger Chat

Dr. Evan Kutzler, assistant professor of history, recently spoke with Reconstruction Era National Historic Park on an episode of Ranger Chat. He and Park Ranger Chris Barr discussed Kutzler’s involvement in the National Park Service Special History study examining African American history at Andersonville National Historic Site and his research into the Reconstruction era Freedman community that emerged around the site.

Watch the full episode here.


Awards & Grants

Donaldson named PBC Men’s Golf Coach of the Year

Darcy Donaldson, head coach of GSW’s men’s gold team, has been named Men’s Golf Coach of the Year by the Peach Belt Conference. Coach Donaldson led his team to a year-end NCAA Division II ranking of No.1 in both the coaches poll and the Golfstat computer rankings. Donaldson has been head golf coach at GSW since September 2012.


Work Anniversaries

Dawn Godwin marks one year with Student Accounts

Dawn Godwin, Student Accounts Coordinator, recently celebrated one year at GSW.


Upcoming Events

  • May 7: Last day of class
  • May 8-9 & 11-13: Final exams
  • May 15: Virtual graduation ceremony
  • May 18: Maymester classes begin

Find more events on the GSW academic calendar and on CanesConnect.