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Issue 3: December 2020


GSW recognizes 2020 graduates across four separate, socially-distanced ceremonies  

GSW recognized Spring, Summer and Fall graduates in the Class of 2020 on Saturday, December 12 across four smaller, socially-distanced ceremonies inside the Convocation Hall. Approximately 175 graduates walked across the stage to receive their diplomas, with 726 students total earning their bachelor's, master's and specialist degrees in 2020. 

"It was a great day," said GSW President Neal Weaver, Ph.D. "This is one of the most important days of our graduates' lives, and certainly the most anticipated day on our campus, so we had to figure out a way to make an in-person graduation happen. The day may have been long, but it was absolutely worth every bit of it to honor all of our 2020 graduates with as much of a traditional ceremony as possible. I want to thank GSW's Graduation Committee who worked extremely hard over the last few months to plan and safely execute four ceremonies in one day. I think the day went smoothly, and it was apparent the graduates and their families were happy to be here."

Georgia Southwestern took many safety precautions throughout the day to hold in-person ceremonies and help ensure the safety of the graduates and their families. Face masks were required inside the building and were worn at all times, graduates were allowed up to four guests, and seating on the floor and in the stands was spaced out and marked off to meet proper social distancing protocol. The arena was also thoroughly cleaned in between ceremonies.

Read more about graduation, including the unique stories of mother and son, twins, dean and son, and a special needs graduate, here.

graduation ceremony

Kappa Sigma brothers honor late housemother “Aunt Mae” with endowed scholarship ahead of her birthday

The Kappa Kappa Chapter of Kappa Sigma fraternity at GSW recently brought a 40-year-old scholarship back to life to honor the memory of housemother Walter Mae Hamilton, or “Aunt Mae” as she was known to the brothers.

Aunt Mae served as the Kappa Sigma housemother for a number of years at their first house on Taylor Street in Americus, Ga.

“She was such a sweet lady,” said Wes Wheeler (’70), GSW alumnus and Kappa Sigma brother. “Aunt Mae was the perfect grandmother-type. She lived upstairs, and we rarely saw her except when needed. She would come down and tell us to ‘pick up the house’ and ‘clean up the yard.’ Everyone loved her, and she holds a special place in my heart.”

When Aunt Mae passed in 1982, she left money to the local chapter to establish a scholarship for future brothers. The scholarship provided tuition assistance to Kappa Sigma brothers for a few years before it dissolved.

In November 2019 at the 50th Anniversary Founders’ Day meeting, the chapter announced that $3,000 would be used to re-establish the Walter Mae Hamilton Scholarship and begin an endowment through the GSW Foundation. One brother was so moved by this gesture, he impulsively pledged $5,000 of his own to the scholarship fund and encouraged others to do the same. This spontaneous gift spurred another and another, and by the end of the night, Aunt Mae’s scholarship fund had jumped to $13,000.

Within one month from that evening, the scholarship became fully endowed at $25,000 with generous donations rolling in from many of the original founding members and other Kappa Sigma brothers.

Read more about Aunt Mae’s scholarship fund here.



Scott named president of GACRAO

GSW Director of Recruitment and Admissions Jonathon Scott has been named President of Georgia Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (GACRAO). GACRAO is a professional association dedicated to the growth and development of admission and records personnel in the State of Georgia and serves as the state affiliate for the national association.

RCI staff to remain on campus after transition, emails will change

Although the Rosalynn Carter Institute (RCI) is transitioning from a unit to an affiliate of GSW, RCI staff will remain on campus in Carter II. RCI employees will also keep their keys and parking permits and will continue to use the campus post office.

RCI emails, however, will change beginning January 1, 2021. The new format will be Please visit the RCI’s website for the most up-to-date contact information.

Nursing program seeking comment for CCNE accreditation renewal

GSW’s Master of Science in Nursing program is seeking national accreditation by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) with a virtual evaluation visit scheduled February 1-3, 2021.

We invite you to provide written and signed comments to CCNE before January 11, 2021. Comments should be directed to

horses on campusHorses offer unique form of stress relief on campus

Just before Fall finals, students were able to relieve stress and anxiety by interacting with horses on Sanford Lawn at the Horsin’ Around event. Students were able to pet, feed, and even braid the horses' hair while spending some time outdoors. Special thanks to GSW's Comptroller Colette Long for bringing her horses Spirit and Secret to campus for this event!

Read more about Horsin’ Around from the Americus Times-Recorder and Americus News.

Engineering Club established for students

A new Engineering Club has been established on campus for students. The group plans to meet virtually every two weeks with the goal of fostering more interest in engineering. Those interested in joining can find the club on Canes Connect and Instagram or contact President Anirudh Gattu at

Student Recognitions

Lanie BradfordDecember Canes Spotlight announced

Canes Spotlights highlight Georgia Southwestern students who hold leadership roles, are involved in extracurricular activities and/or excel academically in their degree programs. The December Canes Spotlight was:

Canes Spotlights are nominated by GSW faculty and staff.

Geology students receive scholarship

Two geology majors, Dasan McElroy and Ian Wynn, have received an American Institute of Professional Geologists (AIPG) scholarship for 2021. In addition to the scholarship, the students also receive a one-year subscription to “The Professional Geologist,” the organization’s monthly magazine.

The AIPG is the largest geosciences association devoted to ethical and professional practices in geology in the U.S. Membership in the organization is free for students in the geosciences.

Jamal FloydJamal Floyd named AAMI Student of the Month

Jamal Floyd was recently named the AAMI Student of the Month. Jamal is a freshman fine arts major and resident of Americus. Jamal has a 100% participation in AAMI meetings, study sessions, and program activities.

His enthusiastic participation in these areas are reflected in his midterm grades and strong start to his college career. One thing he wants to improve on is his artwork. His twin brother Kamal is also an AAMI member.


Evan KutzlerKutzler publishes four articles on local and regional history

Dr. Evan Kutzler, assistant professor of history, has published a number of articles over the past three months. Most recently, his article "A Base, Cowardly, Inhuman Attack: The Aumuculle Massacre of 1818" was published in the Winter 2020 issue of Georgia Backroads magazine. The piece examines the little-known history of the "Aumuculle" village, its destruction in what became known as the "Chehaw Massacre," and the complicated monument dedicated to the "Chehaw" and Andrew Jackson.

Kuztler has also published three more local history articles in the Americus Times-Recorder. His most recent article, "'Dear Santa' in a Year of War and Pestilence," explores what local children asked of Santa in the immediate aftermath of World War I and amid a global pandemic.

In November, Kuztler’s "Georgia Runoffs, A Brief History" took a timely look at the two U.S. Senate races currently in runoffs and how we got to this point. In October, "Oak Grove Cemetery: A Shelter for the Dead, a Park for the Living"  examined the history of the historic Americus cemetery and how it built to be visited and, even, enjoyed.


Kutzler interviews author on new Carter book

Dr. Evan Kutzler, assistant professor of history, joined bestselling author Jonathan Alter on Oct. 1, 2020 to discuss his new book "His Very Best: Jimmy Carter. A Life." The interview, which was broadcast live in partnerships with the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum, is available to watch on the Carter Presidential Library’s Facebook page.

Awards & Grants

Oris Bryant Book Scholarship winners announced

GSW Staff Senate recently announced the recipients of the Fall 2020 Oris Bryant Book Scholarship: Tammy Carpenter, enrolled at GSW; and Afiya Thomas, enrolled at Valdosta State University.

The purpose of the scholarship is to support currently employed GSW staff members in their pursuit of higher education.

Each recipient was awarded a $50 gift card to assist with their educational expenses. This scholarship fund is named in honor of the late Oris W. Bryant, Jr., affectionately known as “Chief.” Bryant was an active member of the GSW community, where he served as Director of Public Safety. Scholarships will be offered again at the beginning of Spring 2020 semester.

The GSW Staff Senate thanks you for your continued support. The Staff Senate can be contacted at Meetings are held on the last Wednesday of each month at 3:00 p.m. via Microsoft Teams. If you any issues or concerns that you would like us to address or present as staff members, please email them to

Milestones, Birthdays & Life Events

Mukkavilli family welcomes baby Shreyas

Sai Kiran Mukkavilli, Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science, and his wife Krishna welcomed a baby boy, Shreyas Mukkavilli, into the world on Monday, December 7, 2020 at 1:09 p.m. He arrived weighing 6 lbs. 2 oz. and 19" long.

Hoffman earns master’s degree

Dreena Hoffmann, Academic Advisor in the School of Nursing, has earned her master’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Albany State University. She previously earned her undergraduate degree from Stetson University in DeLand, Fla. Hoffman has been working at GSW for 5 years. Due to only being able to take one class per semester, it took her about four years to earn her master’s.

Hurricane Gratitude

This newest section will allow students, faculty, or staff to submit thanks to other members of the GSW community for their outstanding dedication, commitment, or support. Submit a "thank you" anytime via email to or during the monthly call for Breeze submissions.

“I wanted to thank the Graduation Committee for all of their hard work and dedication to planning four commencement ceremonies in the midst of a pandemic. Everything went extremely well thanks to all of you. The venue looked beautiful, the ushers were friendly, helpful and plentiful, the line-ups and movement in and out of Convocation Hall was seamless, the music was perfect, and I saw many graduates and their families taking pictures at the areas that were set up outside for photo opportunities both before and after ceremonies. Graduation is a special day on a campus, and thanks to your efforts hundreds of graduates and guests had an experience they will never forget.

Thank you again for all you did for GSW, our students, and their guests.  I promise you made a difference in people’s lives on Saturday, and you should all be proud of the work you did to make our 2020 Commencement ceremonies a complete success.” – Suzanne Smith, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

Upcoming Events

  • January 4: Winter Intercession classes begin
  • January 12: Payment due for Spring
  • January 15: Last day of Winter Intercession classes
  • January 16: Residence halls open & dining plans begin
  • January 18: MLK Day
  • January 19: Spring classes begin
  • January 19-25: Add/drop for Spring
  • February 15-20: Homecoming

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