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Issue 9: August 2023


GSW anticipates largest enrollment in school history

Following a 7.3% enrollment increase in Summer semester, GSW continues the upward trend with an increase of over 10% for Fall 2023. With more than 3,300 students currently enrolled for Fall semester, early numbers indicate GSW will see its highest enrollment in the institution’s history. 

“Georgia Southwestern continues to be a leading institution in the state,” said GSW President Neal Weaver, Ph.D. “GSW provides a tremendous value to our students and to our region. The entire campus is focused on ensuring student success, enhancing the overall campus experience, providing programs relevant to our economy and graduating more students who will make a real impact in our region’s workforce.”

Read more about GSW's enrollment here.


GSW chemistry program adds new concentrations in forensics and biochemistry

GSW's Department of Chemistry, Geology, & Physics will offer two new interdisciplinary concentrations – forensic chemistry and biochemistry – beginning Fall 2023. This will expand the offerings and possible career paths for students earning a Bachelor of Science in chemistry at GSW.

“We decided to reevaluate our current chemistry curriculum with the need for more chemists in the regional workforce,” stated Elizabeth Gurnack, Ph.D., professor of chemistry. “In addition to more opportunities for undergraduate research and internships, the new curriculum recognizes the interdisciplinary nature of the science and allows more flexibility for the student to make the degree more focused on their specific career goals.”

The forensics concentration, offered in conjunction with GSW’s online Criminal Justice program, will prepare students to understand the basics of criminal justice and evidence. A solid background in chemistry will provide a thorough and hands-on experience with the analytical chemistry required for forensic work with law enforcement agencies and labs. 

The biochemistry concentration, in conjunction with GSW’s Department of Biology, will provide an in-depth background in human biochemistry while maintaining a strong foundation in all areas of chemistry. This option is appropriate for students interested in medical school or biomedical research.

Read more about the new chemistry concentrations here.


GSW students selected for prestigious President Jimmy Carter Leadership Program

Georgia Southwestern has named 22 freshmen to the President Jimmy Carter Leadership Program, established to honor the legacy of GSW alumnus and former U.S. President Jimmy Carter. These students from Georgia, Florida and Alabama are the fifth cohort to enter the program since its creation in 2019. 

The newest cohort members were selected through an application and interview process. The group commits to program requirements that include a two-year residency, 240 service hours, a leadership certificate, and a senior research or service project. 

The 2023-2024 members of the Carter Leadership Program are:

  • Alana Beddow – Saint Vincent’s Academy, Savannah, Ga.
  • Alainey Breaux – Perry High School, Perry, Ga.
  • Toni Clark – Crawford Mosley High School, Lynn Haven, Fla.
  • Jordan Ellis – Lee County High School, Leesburg, Ga.
  • Talia Esther – Thomas County Central High School, Coolidge, Ga.
  • Simone Gillispie – Glenwood High School, Salem, Ala.
  • Mason Hunnicutt – Habersham Central High School, Habersham, Ga.
  • Maggie McDonald – Troup County High School, Lagrange, Ga.
  • Callie Miller – Wayne County High School, Jesup, Ga.
  • Siara Moore – Liberty County High School, Hinesville, Ga.
  • Taylor Paul – Westover High School, Albany, Ga.
  • Megan Pitts – Griffin High School, Griffin, Ga.
  • Kaytlyn Prevatt – Cairo High School, Thomasville, GA
  • Taylor Queener – Perry High School, Elko, Ga.
  • Carly Reneau – Georgia Connections Academy, Bonaire, Ga.
  • Jeanna Shivers – Marion County High School, Buena Vista, Ga.
  • Macy Taylor – Thomasville High School, Ochlocknee, Ga.
  • Madeline Taylor – Marion County High School, Buena Vista, Ga.
  • Jacob Turner – Home schooled, Fort Valley, Ga.
  • Tamya Turner – Upson Lee High School, Thomaston, Ga.
  • Olivia Wright – Academy of Richmond County, Augusta, Ga.

Read more here.



GSW’s fifth annual Day of Giving set for Thursday, Sept. 21

GSW will host its fifth annual Day of Giving on Thursday, Sept. 21, 2023. 

GSW’s Day of Giving is a yearly challenge to raise funds and support for the University. This year, the goals are to reach at least 400 individual donors and receive a gift from all 50 states, ultimately “turning the map gold.”

“Each year, many of GSW’s contributors from all over the country circle this day on their calendars and we are incredibly grateful for every single donor,” said Stephen Snyder, assistant vice president for Advancement. “We anticipate more participation than ever for the 2023 Day of Giving.” 

The University will focus on raising money for six specific funds supporting the areas of scholarships, the Southwestern Annual Fund, General Athletics, the Griffin Bell Conference Center, and the President Jimmy Carter Leadership Program. Donors can also make financial contributions to any fund of their choice.

In addition to monetary gifts, those wanting to support GSW on the Day of Giving can dine at one of the participating local restaurants who will generously donate a portion of their sales during certain hours back to the Day of Giving. Thank you to Chick-fil-A Americus, Carter’s Fried Chicken, Sweet Georgia Bakery & Café, Monroe’s Hotdogs, Wolf Creek Plantation (downtown location), 2 Duke’s BBQ, Pat’s Place, Gyro City Mediterranean Grill, Little Brother’s Bistro, The Sheppard House, La Hacienda, The 1800, Roman Oven Pizzeria, The Fish House, Floyd’s Pub, Rosemary & Thyme, The Alley and Booger Bottom for participating. Gas N Go is also donating a portion of proceeds from pumps seven and eight at their location on Tripp St. and E. Lamar St.

Read more here.


Introducing HAIL: GSW’s new Quality Enhancement Plan

Georgia Southwestern's High-impact Approach to Integrative Learning (HAIL) aims for all GSW students to be able to make connections among their curricular and co-curricular experiences. These connections may be introduced between experience and academic knowledge, across disciplines and contexts, transferable skills, ideas and methods to new situations, and throughout reflection and self-assessment opportunities. We hope these opportunities help our students to connect to our University community and feel a sense of belonging, encourage students to create their own understanding of why learning matters, and to guide our students to success both during and after their studies at Georgia Southwestern.

Faculty who are interested in direct collaboration will be able to organize course clusters—classes that are designed (but not required) to be taken concurrently for a more intentionally integrated experience. Instructors participating in course clusters will coordinate materials, activities, or assignments that allow students to explore different facets of a central topic, question, or problem. Course clusters may be interdisciplinary or consist of classes within the same program, as long as they include at least two concurrent courses that guide students through a shared integrated learning experience. They may also include co-curricular or extracurricular activities that are meaningfully integrated into the shared learning experience of the course cluster.

If you are interested in exploring opportunities and teaching a Spring 2023 course cluster, please contact committee member Jennifer Ryer by Friday, September 8.

Please visit the HAIL Quality Enhancement Plan webpage for more information, updates, and exciting ways to get involved.


GSW launches Employee of the Month program

The Department of Human Resources has launched an Employee of the Month program with the purpose of  encouraging recognition of GSW faculty and staff who have significantly benefited the University and made contributions beyond the usual expectations or their employment.

Nominations can be made online each month here.

headshot of Major General CardenMaj. Gen. Thomas Carden ’92 selected for Regents’ Hall of Fame Alumni Award

Major General Thomas Carden, Jr., adjutant general of the Georgia Department of Defense, has been selected as a Regents’ Hall of Fame Award recipient and will be recognized at the 2023 Board of Regents Scholarship and Awards Gala Friday, September 8. Carden is a 1992 graduate of GSW with a Bachelor of Science in history.

“Georgia Southwestern is fortunate to count a few of our most notable alumni as Regents ‘Hall of Famers,’” said GSW President Neal Weaver. “I am very pleased that Maj. Gen. Carden will now be included among that list of individuals. As a significant leader in our state and a man of great integrity, I cannot think of anyone more fitting to receive this award.”

Read more about Maj. Gen. Carden here.

people watch fireworksFood, fun and fireworks Under the Lights

The GSW women's soccer team opens its regular season schedule with a home match against Albany State University on Thursday, August 31 at Hurricane Field.

The match will be featured during GSW's Sixth Annual "Under the Lights" event presented by Wolf Creek Plantation. Admission is free and the evening features free food, activities, giveaways, and an amazing post-match fireworks by Southern Sky Fireworks! Coolers and carry-ins are allowed.

Additional highlights include:

  • Free shaved ice drinks from Kona Ice
  • Treats from the Surge's Street Eats food truck
  • Sweet Spot Baking Company truck with desserts for purchase
  • Free food off the grill and block party activities 
  • Visits from the GSW mascot Surge 

The block party begins at 6 p.m. The Lady Hurricanes kick off at 7 p.m. The fireworks show will begin immediately after the match at approximately 9 p.m.

Read more here.

Student Recognitions

Softball program excels with six All-America Scholar-Athletes

The GSW softball team had six All-America Scholar-Athletes recently named for the 2022-23 academic year by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA). Savana BradfordHannah HollowayHenderson HurdleJacie JohnsKimmy Singer and Chloe Sneed earned the award by posting a grade point average (GPA) of 3.5 or higher during the year.

Georgia Southwestern's team GPA of 3.40 ranked second in the Peach Belt Conference and 78th in NCAA Division II.

The year-end rankings and honors presented by Easton and the NFCA recognize the academic prowess of softball teams across the association's membership categories. NCAA Division I led the way with 2,515 student-athletes earning a 3.5 grade-point average or higher for 2022-23. NCAA Division III followed with 2,369 and NCAA Division II with 1,790. Junior Colleges and NAIA came in with 944 and 666 student-athletes respectively.

Team GPAs and scholar-athletes are submitted by NFCA member head coaches.

Read more here.

headshots of softball players

Duo named GCAA All-America Scholars

GSW men's golfers Chase McLain and Nicolas Escobar were recently named All-America Scholars for the 2022-23 season by the Golf Coaches Association of America. Both Hurricanes are repeat recipients of the honor.

McLain, from Leesburg, Ga., completed his final season with the Hurricanes while pursuing his master's degree in business administration. McLain compiled a 72.09 scoring average over 34 rounds of competition in 2022-23. His best event this campaign was the NCAA Division II Spring Kickoff played February 14-15 where he fired a 2-under 214 and tied for sixth place out of 95 golfers. McLain finished the year ranked No. 50 in the NCAA Division II individual rankings according to Golfstat.

Escobar, a senior management major from Guayaquil Ecuador, compiled a 71.58 scoring average over 31 rounds of competition in 2022-23. His best event of the season was the Peach Belt Conference Championship played April 21-23 where he compiled a 5-under 211 and finished first out of 45 golfers. Escobar finished the year ranked No. 29 in the NCAA Division II individual rankings according to Golfstat.

Read more here.

headshots of McLain and Escobar

Three Sigma Chi brothers at conferenceSigmi Chi brothers attend leadership workshop

Three brothers from the Eta Theta Chapter of Sigma Chi fraternity recently attended the KRACH Transformational Leadership Workshop in Bowling Green, Ohio in early September. Consul (President) Blake Goodin, Pro-Consul (Vice President) John Cook, and Annotator (Secretary) Jackson Kiff traveled to Bowling Green University for the four-day lead­er­ship immer­sion event focus­ed on the per­son­al and pro­fes­sion­al devel­op­ment of Sig­ma Chi under­grad­u­ates, devel­op­ing them into Trans­for­ma­tion­al Lead­ers for their chap­ters and on their campuses.

Powered in partnership with the Sigma Chi Leadership Institute, the tracks focused on Servant Leadership and empowering others, True North (Authentic) Leadership and leading yourself, and Values-Based Leadership and aligning yourself.

“By attending this workshop, I was able to understand what it means to be a leader in today’s world,” said Goodin. “Through Sigma Chi, I have established a groundwork for my future career. In Hoc!”


Yemelyanov presents two articles at San Francisco international conference

Professor of Computer Science Alexander Yemelyanov, Ph.D., D.Sc. in the College of Business and Computing made two presentations at 14th International Conference on Applied Human Factors and Ergonomics (AHFE 2023) July 20-24, where he presented his recently published articles, Applying Smart Assistants in Express Decision for Insurance Choicescoauthored with his colleague Sai Mukkavilli, Ph.D. and former graduate student Rahul Sukumaran and Self-Regulation Problem Solving for Sufficient Risk Reductionco-authored with Alina Yemelyanov (Georgia State University).

Easom presents on careers in aging 

Associate Dean of Health Sciences Leisa Easom, Ph.D., gave an oral presentation at the Georgia Gerontology Society Annual Conference, which was held at the Ritz Carlton in Greensboro, Ga. from July 24-26. The oral presentation was entitled “A New and Needed Educational Pathway for a Career in Aging”.  The presentation, which featured recent long-term care management graduate Carrie Harris, was well attended.

Mukkavilli presents to Indian banking staffMukkavilli presents to Indian banking IT employees

Associate Professor of Computer Science in the College of Business and Computing Sai Mukkavilli, Ph.D., was invited to be a guest speaker at the Central Bank of India's Information Technology (IT) Headquarters. Mukkavilli traveled to Navi Mumbai, Maharashtra, India to give the presentation on June 3, 2023.

His presentation was titled "Cloud Computing: A Common Man's Perspective" and focused on ways to mitigate the attacks on cloud services, which are widely used and instrumental to many companies and organizations in the banking industry.

Several employees with expertise in banking information technology attened Mukkavilli's presentation.


Fisk publishes paper on unconscious perception

Professor Gary Fisk, Ph.D., co-authored a paper titled "Comparison of Frequentist and Bayesian Statistics for Studying Unconscious Perception: Differences Between Null Awareness Dissociation and Relative Sensitivity Dissociation." 

This paper compares two different statistical approaches for studying the unconscious components of perception. Although Bayesian statistical tests are popular, these may often produce inconclusive results when used in a popular paradigm that aims to reduce perceptual awareness to zero. This understanding will hopefully lead to methodological improvements for studying how perception relates to consciousness. April Hall, a psychology major, collected these data as part of an independent study project.

Jones publishes chapter on video game studies

Assistant Professor of Communication Ashley P. Jones, Ph.D., recently published a book chapter, "Digital Distribution" in the 2nd Edition of the Routledge Companion to Video Game Studies. The book was released on June 19, 2023 and includes over 70 contributors to the state of Video Game Studies today. The manuscript is edited by Mark J.P. Wolf and Bernard Perron.

Russell publishes article on Christopher Nolan and Oppenheimer

Associate Professor of English Jesse Russell recently published an article on director Christopher Nolan titled Oppenheimer’s Nihilism: Where Is Christopher Nolan? Russell explores Nolan's past works before delving deeper into Oppenheimer. 

Awards & Grants

Faculty awarded grant to develop programming around girlhood in Southwest Georgia

Professor Susan Bragg, Ph.D.; Assistant Professor Debaleena Ghosh, Ph.D.; Professor Lauren DiPaula, Ph.D.,; and Assistant Professor Ashley Jones, Ph.D., have received a $1,000 Women and Girls in Georgia (WAGG) grant from the University of Georgia. This grant is intended to help trace and explore girlhood expression from historical and contemporary perspectives in Southwest Georgia. The grant awardees are planning a full academic year's worth of student projects, guest speakers, and community outreach events, utilizing the grant money to trace how girlhood in southwest Georgia has evolved over time and continues into the future.

Classes that will be included in this project are Bragg's Introduction to Women, Gender, and Sexuality (Fall 2023) and Girlhood Politics (Spring 2024); Jones' Creating for Online Media (Fall 2023) and Special Topics: Journalism (Spring 2024); and Ghosh's Gender & Society (Fall 2023). More classes will be announced as part of the project soon!

Iordanova selected as science coach for Furlow Charter School

Professor of Chemistry Nellie Iordanova, Ph.D., was selected to participate in the AACT/ACS Science Coaches Program in coordination with Furlow Charter School. Selected and supported by the American Chemical Society, Iordanova will collaborate with local high school science teacher Patti Howell, Ed.D., on a wide variety of projects depending on the grade level of the students and the educational goals of the teacher. During her time, Iordanova will visit the campus periodically to provide students with engaging course materials and experiments to enhance their knowledge of chemistry in the classroom.

In addition, Howell was awarded a $550 Flinn Scientific grant to support the combined efforts with the program. This funding is aimed at providing necessary materials for students during the partnership. She also received a complimentary 1-year AACT membership for participation in the program this year. The membership will include a resource library with over 1,000 resources across all grade levels including multimedia and videos along with access to Chemistry Solutions and ChemMatters to support student learning.

Hurricane Gratitude

Thank you to:

  • The Office of Recruitment and Admissions for admitting record number of new students.
  • The Office of Student Financial Aid for awarding a record number of financial aid and scholarship awards.
  • The Department of First-Year Experience and Student Success for their work organizing Storm Days and New Student Orientation.
  • The Department of Residential and Campus Life for their work organizing Thunder Camp, Freshmen Move-In Day, and Welcome Week events.
  • Physical Plant for preparing campus for students' return.
  • Faculty for increasing course loads to accommodate enrollment growth.

- Dr. Laura Boren, Executive Vice President for Student Engagement and Success

Thank you to Jeremy Wicker for planning and organizing GSW’s Americus Showcase! He did an amazing job reaching out to local businesses and organizations so they can highlight their services and products to GSW students. There were over 30 vendors who participated and approximately 500 students, faculty and staff present. GSW values their partnership with the community and this event is an excellent example of that commitment.

- Chelsea Collins, Director of Marketing and Communications

Employment Updates

rebecca-bidwell.jpgRebecca Bidwell joins the College of Education

Rebecca Macon Bidwell, PhD is a new assistant professor in the College of Education as of August 1, 2023. She graduated from the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a PhD in curriculum and instruction with a pedagogical studies concentration in social studies. She has 29 years of experience teaching social studies in the K-12 system in Alabama.

Her research interests include teaching with public issues, inquiry-based learning, and using the disciplinary literacy skills embedded in the different social studies disciplines to foster critical thinking in students.

She is extremely thrilled to be part of the GSW team and looks forward to working with both students and other faculty.

becca-jones.jpgBecca Jones joins the College of Business and Computing

Becca Jones joins GSW this fall as a senior lecturer of marketing in the College of Business and Computing. She grew up in Howard, Ga. and graduated from Taylor County High School. She received her Bachelor of Science in Business Marketing from Reinhardt University, where she played softball for four years. She received her Master of Science in Organizational Leadership with a concentration in Servant Leadership from Columbus State University, and is a PhD Candidate in the department of Marketing and Supply Chain Management at The University of Memphis. While at the University of Memphis, she completed a Cognitive Science Graduate Certification and a Biometric Research Certification.

Her current research includes physiological responses to Super Bowl advertising content and healthcare marketing disparities among underprivileged populations. Her research interests also include a variety of topics involving: biometrics (EEG, GSR, eye tracking, and facial expression analysis), sales psychology, sensory marketing, humor, non-profit, and healthcare marketing. Her teaching philosophy encourages experiential learning and active engagement in order to give students experience prior to graduation. This philosophy earned her the university Teaching Innovation Award and the college Teaching Award at her prior university.

Jones enjoys spending time with her niece and nephew, being outdoors with her dog Penny Lane, visiting national parks, searching for waterfalls, kayaking rivers, and exploring new areas. She is an avid bingo player, loves to bowl, enjoys clogging, and often sings at open mics.   

New Hires

The following joined GSW on August 1, 2023:

  • Karen Allen, part-time instructor in the College of Nursing and Health Sciences
  • Soumendra Banerjee, associate professor of management in the College of Business and Computing
  • Katherine Barnetson, part-time instructor in the College of Education
  • Samantha Beauliua, athletic trainer in the Department of Athletics
  • Melinda Chatham, assistant prof of management in the College of Business and Computing
  • Rachel Davis, part-time instructor in the College of Education
  • Theodore Drakopoulous, part-time instructor in the Department of Music, Communication, & Emerging Media
  • David Griffin, part-time instructor in the College of Arts and Sciences
  • James Griffith, part-time instructor  in the College of Nursing and Health Sciences
  • Farah Jones, part-time instructor in the College of Education
  • Laura Laviano, part-time instructor in the College of Nursing and Health Sciences
  • Karlie Levering, Student-Athlete Service Coordinator and Head Women’s Tennis Coach in the Department of Athletics
  • Abby Morelock, admissions counselor in the Office of Recruitment and Admissions
  • April Parker, part-time instructor in the College of Education
  • Anna Tipper, part-time instructor in the College of Nursing and Health Sciences
  • Alyssa Underwood, part-time instructor in the College of Nursing and Health Sciences
  • Megan Vanhorn, part-time instructor in the College of Nursing and Health Sciences
  • Nina Williams, part-time instructor in the College of Education
  • Katie Wimberly, part-time instructor in the College of Nursing and Health Sciences


Mary Huffman, assistant professor of social studies education in the College of Education, exited that role on August 3, 2023.

Elizabeth Lucas-Murillo, administrative assistant in the Department of English and Modern Languages, exited that role on August 4, 2023.

Debbie Messer, part-time instructor in the College of Education, exited that role on August 7, 2023.

Brenda Mansfield, part-time instructor in the College of Education, exited that role on August 7, 2023.

Jason Dobbs, assistant director of plant operations in Physical Plant, exited that role on August 8, 2023.


Cecilia Maldonado, associate professor in the College of Business and Computing, retired on July 31, 2023.

Promotions & Title Changes

The following promotions went into effect on August 1, 2023:

  • Jim Aller, associate professor and associate dean of the graduate program in the College of Business and Computing
  • Blue Argo, senior lecturer in the Department of English and Modern Languages
  • Jason Berggren – professor in the Department of History and Political Science
  • Carol Bishop, professor and associate dean of the undergraduate program in the College of Business and Computing
  • Susan Bragg, professor in the Department of History and Political Science
  • Anish Dave, professor in the Department of English and Modern Languages
  • Lauren Reed DiPaula, professor in the Department of English and Modern Languages
  • Jonathan Hobbs, assistant professor of information technology in the College of Business and Computing
  • Tom Lorenz, professor in the Department of Biology
  • Michael Moir, professor in the Department of English and Modern Languages
  • Sai Mukkavilli, associate professor in the College of Business and Computing
  • Debra Palmer, professor in the Department of Psychology and Sociology
  • Jennifer Ryer, senior lecturer in the Department of English and Modern Languages
  • Thelma Sexton, associate professor in the College of Education
  • Amber Stovall, senior lecturer in the College of Business and Computing
  • Katelyn Wood, assistant softball coach and head women’s cross country coach in the Department of Athletics

Hannah Finley was promoted to computer and imaging technician in the Department of Information and Instructional Technology on August 7, 2023.


baby GrenekerGreneker family welcomes baby Robert David

Sarah Brittany Greneker and her husband Dr. Thomas Greneker proudly welcomed a baby boy into the world on Tuesday, August 22 2023 at 8:13pm. Robert David arrived weighing 7 lbs. 14 oz. and 20.5” long.

Mom and baby are doing great, and big sister Mary Thomas (“MT”) is very excited. Congratulations to the Greneker family!

Sarah Brittany serves as the Executive Administrative Assistant to the Executive Vice President for the Division of Student Engagement and Success and Department of Residential and Campus Life.

Past Events

Atlanta Braves' Zach Sorensen kicks off Category 5

GSW hosted its inaugural Category 5 event on Thursday, August 24 in the Storm Dome with former Major League Baseball player and current Mental Performance Coach of the Atlanta Braves Zach Sorensen serving as the guest speaker. High school student-athletes from Southwest Georgia were invited to attend alongside GSW student-athletes.

Category 5 is a new comprehensive community program from GSW that addresses five issues impacting young athletes today such as well-being, nutrition, physical, mental, emotional, and various social components. Category 5 also tackles issues including childhood obesity, adult obesity, behavioral health & addictive disease prevention, and diabetes prevention and management. 

In conjunction with the Category 5 program GSW introduced the Canes Care Initiative. Canes Care helps with student athlete development to local high schools, host educated speakers, foster engagement between GSW athletes and local student athletes, and shows ways to implement Category 5 into everyday life.

Category 5 connects student-athletes through several community service events throughout the school year. During the 2022 academic year the athletics department finished #1 in the country amongst NCAA DII programs with an overall amount of 6,736 hours.

The Hurricanes want to take community engagement another step forward by connecting GSW student athletes with local youth and high school athletes. The engagement with the community is to provide health and wellness education along with student athlete development education to local surrounding high school student athletes on the five dimensions of well-being.

Read more about Category 5 and the event here.

Upcoming Events

Find more events on the GSW academic calendar, on CanesConnect, and on the Community Events webpage.