Issue 8: May 2020


258 Hurricanes make history in GSW’s first-ever Virtual Graduation Ceremony

GSW held its Spring 2020 Graduation Ceremony online Friday, May 15, 2020 celebrating 258 graduating Hurricanes who made history by participating in GSW's first-ever virtual graduation ceremony. Traditional commencement activities, originally scheduled for the same day on campus, were cancelled due to the COVID-19 restrictions that forced universities across the country to either cancel or postpone all large gatherings.

"These graduates are part of a graduating class like no other," noted GSW President Neal Weaver, Ph.D. "Whether on stage or online, their hard work deserves to be recognized. May 15 was their special day, and we made sure it was still going to be their special day. We know this is not how they envisioned completing their college journey, but I am amazed at their perseverance and determination through it all."

During the virtual ceremony, President Weaver and Provost Suzanne Smith, Ph.D., shared brief remarks and words of encouragement, conferred undergraduate and graduate degrees, and signaled the turning of the tassels.

Read more, watch the ceremony on YouTube, or view #GSWgrad photos on Facebook.


GSW named #1 Best Online RN to BSN Program in Georgia

GSW has been recognized as having the #1 Best Online RN to BSN Program in Georgia by in its 4th Annual Nursing School Program Rankings. This prestigious ranking is based on GSW's nursing program's graduation rate, tuition and fees, quality of faculty, acceptance rate, and accreditations.

RN to BSN programs allow registered nurses (RNs) to advance their career, earn a higher salary, and assume more leadership and responsibility in the workplace by earning a baccalaureate degree in nursing.

"We are delighted our RN to BSN program has been recognized as number one in Georgia," said Sandra Daniel, Ph.D., dean of the College of Nursing and Health Sciences. "Our expert faculty and highly motivated students are what make this program successful, alongside our partnerships and connections with successful alumni and excellent clinical experiences with southwest Georgia healthcare organizations such as the Phoebe Health System."

Read more here.

nursing student checks patients heart

GSW plans to resume face-to-face instruction for Fall semester

GSW, along with the other University System of Georgia (USG) institutions, plans to reopen in June and resume face-to-face instruction in August for the Fall semester should guidance from Governor Kemp’s office and public health officials allow it. Currently, USG institutions are developing complex plans to ensure the health and safety of faculty, staff and students. The May and summer semester will continue to be online-only at all 26 USG institutions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are making the necessary adjustments to modify our campus operations and our facilities to ensure we can accommodate for social distancing guidelines,” said GSW President Neal Weaver. “GSW administration and staff are working diligently to make this a smooth transition as we look to resume normal operations. We understand there will be many questions, we just continue to ask for patience as we work through these details moving forward.”

Learn more here.

Darcy Donaldson named National Coach of the Year

GSW golf coach Darcy Donaldson was named the 2019-20 NCAA Division II Dave Williams National Coach of the Year Award presented by Golf Pride Grips. Donaldson led Georgia Southwestern to a year-end ranking of No. 1 in both the Bushnell Golfweek Coaches Poll & Golfstat computer rankings.

Read more in the full release from the Golf Coaches Association of America here.

Darcy Donaldson


President Weaver releases message to GSW community

“Over the last 10 days, we have witnessed, once again, how disgusting acts of racism and racial injustice have not only caused the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and countless others but also ripped our country and our communities further apart.  The members of our Black and African-American community should be angry, frustrated and concerned.  I want you to know that I personally condemn the racism and the persistent injustice that has undermined the rhetoric of equality and opportunity we have heard for decades.  As an institution, Georgia Southwestern will stand with our black students, faculty, staff and alumni and affirm our belief in the dignity and value of each individual and our commitment to being a campus that will not tolerate any form of racism.

In my office, I keep a copy of Theodore Roosevelt’s famous quote about the Man in the Arena, and it reminds me that it is not the critic who points out where the Doer of Deeds could have done better that should get credit.  Instead, it is the person who spends himself on a worthy cause, who knows both the triumph of high achievement and the pain of failing while daring greatly, who is to be celebrated.

For too long and after too many horrifying examples, I have continued to stand outside the arena thinking this was not my fight, not my issue.  But now, your pain, your voice, and your protest have awakened me to my responsibility.  So today, I enter this arena with you and will stand with you, shoulder-to-shoulder, daring greatly in pursuit of high achievement and for the worthiest of causes. We must end all forms and all manifestations of racism and we should not divert our attention until this cause is achieved.”

Dr. Neal Weaver, GSW President

GSW Foundation kicks off Florrie Chappell renovation campaign

Upon its opening in 1939, the Florrie Chappell Gymnasium was a hub of student activity. We constantly hear stories from alumni about concerts, dances, Homecoming skits, intramural sports and freezing cold swimming lessons. After years of wear and tear, the “old gym” will soon be under renovation, being revived into a fitness and recreation center for our students and community. We have the opportunity to restore what matters and impact future GSW students’ lives.

To accommodate the remaining cost of renovations, the University is undergoing a capital fund drive. Please consider helping to "restore glory to ole Florrie". If you have questions about how to support this project, please contact the GSW Foundation at (229) 931-2014.

Help us bring this building back to life! Make your gift online here.

Leeder accepts AD position at Arkansas Tech

GSW Director of Athletics Mike Leeder has announced his resignation after six years of leading the Hurricanes to pursue a similar position at Arkansas Tech University. Leeder has served at Georgia Southwestern for a total of 17 years as he guided the men's basketball team for 10 seasons prior to his appointment as the full-time director of athletics.

"I would like to thank Dr. (Michael) Haynes for hiring me as the head men's basketball coach as we transitioned from the NAIA to NCAA division II, to Dr. (Kendall) Blanchard for having the belief in me that I could run the athletics department when he allowed me to assume the role of director of athletics in 2014, to Dr. (Charles) Patterson for allowing me to pursue the director of athletics position full time and allowing me to step away from role as head men's basketball coach in 2016, and finally to Dr. (Neal) Weaver who has no doubt prepared me for this opportunity at Arkansas Tech," Leeder said. "I respect him as my boss, but I value him as a friend. His leadership the past three years has had a significant impact on our competitive success in athletics, and I am grateful for all that he has done for the university."

Read more about Leeder’s time at GSW here.

Slocumb featured as Lighthouse Children’s Advocacy Center spotlight

Rhonda Slocumb, lecturer in GSW’s College of Nursing and Health Sciences, was recently featured on Lighthouse Children’s Advocacy Center’s Facebook page for her service to the organization. She was one of the first Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE) to join the organization and serves children and adults suspected to be victims of sexual assault. Slocumb is also involved in training and worked with the Center to bring SANE training to campus.

“Abuse can have life-long damaging effects on victims,” said Slocumb. “I work for abuse victims to give them the help they need to have the happy life that they deserve.”

Barrett and Garnto elected to GSW Alumni Association Board

GSW’s Alumni Association recently announced the addition of two new members to its Board of Directors. Beau Barrett '14 of Macon and Ryan Garnto '13 of Leesburg were elected to join the Board at its last meeting, held online on April 4. Both are GSW alumni and were nominated to serve a two-year term, beginning July 1, 2020.

Read more about the new board members here.

Barrett and Garnto

Student Recognitions

Spring & Summer Canes Spotlights announced

Canes Spotlights highlight Georgia Southwestern students who hold leadership roles, are involved in extracurricular activities and excel academically on campus. The Spring & Summer Canes Spotlights were:

Canes Spotlights are nominated by GSW faculty and staff.

AAMI members recognized as scholarship recipients

The African American Male Institute (AAMI) recently recognized members Kelsey Booker, Joshua Cleveland, Lewis Evans, Andrew Gunn, Elzie Marshall, Nicolas Cohen, and Nyiem Dailey for being awarded the “Achieving the Dream Scholarship” for the 2020-21 academic year.

Shon MartinAAMI highlights graduating member

The African American Male Institute (AAMI) recently recognized graduating member Shon Martin.

“AAMI has taught me to be a better man within the community, to always work hard and keep my head held high with a smile on my face,” said Shon. “Being a black man in today’s society is hard, but AAMI taught me no matter how hard the journey is, there will be no obstacle that can stand in my way with the right attitude!”

Shon graduated with a BA in Art and a minor in Digital Media Technology this Spring.

“I’m also grateful to have my AAMI mentor, Mr. Ervin Anderson. He has been nothing but great to the university and every student! He’s helped us in ways we that we thought impossible, and I will always remember what he taught me in AAMI and continue using that knowledge throughout the rest of my life!”

Over 700 students named to Spring 2020 honors lists

GSW had 736 students named to its Spring 2020 honors lists. These include the Academic Achievement List, Dean’s List, and President’s List.

Visit to the student stories for each honors list.

Brandon ThomasAAMI highlights member running for Dodge County Commissioner

The African American Male Institute (AAMI) recently highlighted member Brandon Thomas, who is also a member of GSW’s Student Government Association. Brandon is currently running for a county commissioner seat in Dodge County, Ga.

“It’s an honor to be selected as a highlighted member of our AAMI program,” said Brandon. “AAMI has made a huge difference in my life, and it has given me a brotherhood and community of educated black men who by all means are determined to graduate. For that, I am grateful.”

Brandon said he decided to run for office to better his community. “On one hand, we have two colleges, the state’s first aviation program, and the state’s 2nd busiest airport, while on the other, hand our residents in the county don’t have fire protection other than that of volunteers.”

Brandon is also making history in his campaign, as he is the youngest person to run for county commissioner in Dodge County. Although COVID-19 has limited his ability to run the grassroots campaign he hoped for, Brandon says his campaigns is “committed to doing everything we can to win the office, and to help reshape our county."


Dehzooei publishes paper on subsidies

Dr. Mohammad Dehzooei, assistant professor of economics, has published a working paper on the impact of removing subsidies on household welfare and government budget. Dehzooei's paper, which is published by the World Bank, shows that when governments want to reduce subsidies for commodities like gasoline, a good option for them is to distribute the proceedings among households in the form of cash. The overall effect of removing subsidies and cash payments is to increase the welfare of households.

Dehzooei advice featured on WalletHub

Dr. Mohammad Dehzooei, assistant professor of economics, was recently featured on the credit and personal finance website WalletHub. Dehzooei’s advice for consumers who are considering appling for credit was featured in an “Ask the Experts” column. nHe also discussed differences between purchasing in cash and credit card from the point of view of businesses. 

Read the full piece here.

Fisk publishes paper in peer-reviewed journal

Gary Fisk, Professor of Psychology, published “Binary vs. continuous experimental designs for the study of unconscious perceptual processing” in the peer-reviewed journal Consciousness and Cognition. Two experimental designs were compared for studying unconscious perceptual processes. The findings suggest that experimental designs based on continuous scales are the most informative for interpreting research in this field. The data in this project were collected by several GSW students: Carley Turner, Marley Collins, Ambria Flanders, Mary Siniard, and Cara White. The paper abstract is available here.

Olsen writes opinion piece for AJC

Dr. Jennifer Olsen, executive director of the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving, recently co-wrote an opinion piece for the Atlanta Journal Constitution on how the coronavirus pandemic has shown the importance of mental health and caregiving.

Read the full article here.

Awards & Grants

Dehzooei receives research grant

Dr. Mohammad Dehzooei, assistant professor of economics, has received an external grant from the World Bank to support his research on vulnerability in the Middle East and North Africa region.

Work Anniversaries

Megginson and PeavyMegginson and Peavy mark 20 years at GSW

Dr. Julie Megginson, professor of music and department chair, and Dr. Sam Peavy, professor of geology, are both celebrating 20 years teaching at GSW.

Upcoming Events

  • June – July: STORM Days
  • June 8: Summer classes begin

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