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Issue 1: October 2023


GSW celebrates Homecoming & Family Weekend

Homecoming & Family Weekend 2023 was held Oct. 9-14. The week began with the annual Golf Cart Parade and presentation of the Homecoming Court, a Barbie-themed beach party, and the Blue & Gold Picnic. The Homecoming Concert featuring TWINSICK was a hit in the Storm Dome on Thursday, while families and alumni were welcomed to town beginning on Friday. The week concluded with a busy Saturday, which included the Sparky Sprint, Canes Family Brunch. Bingo, the Tailgate, and soccer matches. Former football players, cheerleaders, and band members were recognized on the field at halftime of the women's match. Alex Espitia and Ashanti Jackson were crowned Mr. & Miss GSW during halftime of the men's match.

Find photos and more details from the week here and here or watch a recap here.

GSW’s TEDx event brings community together for inspirational talks

Over 100 TEDx enthusiasts gathered for Georgia Southwestern State University’s (GSW) second annual TEDxGeorgiaSouthwesternU event on Friday, Oct. 20, which was an inspiring evening centered around the theme Leaving Your Mark.

The independently-produced event, operated under a license from TED, was organized by GSW faculty and staff volunteers with the help of student volunteers in everything from production and streaming to marketing and event hosting, with the goal of providing students experiential learning opportunities.

“This year’s TEDx event was not only a way to share inspiring and thought-provoking ideas within our community, but also a means for our students to gain real-life experience in their desired field,” said this year’s organizer, Hailey Henderson, MBA. “We are looking forward to future TEDx events on campus and being able to showcase student achievements, talented GSW faculty and staff and our amazing community.”

Read more about the event here.

ceramic bowlsGSW’s ‘Empty Bowls’ 10th annual event set for Nov. 4 helping to eliminate hunger locally

Faculty and students in the Department of Visual Arts, along with Harvest of Hope Food Pantry and local restaurants, are coming together for its 10th annual ‘Empty Bowls’ event to feed the hungry by selling hand-crafted ceramic bowls and delicious soup.

GSW Department of Visual Arts, the Ceramics program, and student organization Artists United are sponsoring ‘Empty Bowls’ which will take place on Saturday, Nov. 4 from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. at the Harvest of Hope Food Pantry at 606 McGarrah St., Americus, GA 31709.

This year marks the event’s 10th anniversary, and is the first since the retirement of longtime Director Rev. Sonny Pinckard, and his wife, Ginger, who helped establish Harvest of Hope in 2013 serving approximately 150 families. The Christian-based, nonprofit organization now serves anywhere from 750-1,000 families in need per month, and will be led by Chris and Rhonda Slocumb, associate professor in GSW’s College of Nursing and Health Sciences.

Read more about the event here.


September gas card winners announced

Thanks to generous donations to the GSW Foundation from Charles Eames and Perry Brothers Oil Co., all currently enrolled GSW students are eligible to win a $100 Gas N' Go gift card each month. The September winners were (pictured L to R, top row) Rickevia Leslie, Serenity Smith, Gracie Davis, (bottom row) Hunter Preston, and Anna Delk.

Students can enter the drawing through the link in the Breeze email each month. Winners will be contacted via email by a representative from the GSW Foundation.

student headshots

podcast cover artPresident Weaver releases a podcast episode in October

In October, President Neal Weaver, Ph.D., released one episode of his What's in the Cup? podcast.

Episode 77, released on Oct. 26, featured Big Man on Campus David Williams and Ansley Little of Zeta Tau Alpha. They discussed Pink Week and how similar co-curricular activities support student development and success.

They also covered how GSW has become the fasting growing institution in the USG, upcoming building demolitions, events coming to campus in November, great Halloween costumes, and favorite candies.   

The podcast is produced by Technology Services Director Bob Slenker. Click here to subscribe via your favorite podcast platform.

MBA program adds new class, welcomes guest speakers

The MBA program added a new class to the program this semester – BUSA 6130 Strategic Change Management. The course involves a series of assignments that permit students to critically analyze and reflect upon intentional actions by change leaders. This allows them to demonstrate a deeper understanding of strategic change management concepts and create practical applications to real-world scenarios. As the students are formulating their own real-world scenario, they have the opportunity to learn from practical approaches that have been taken by some of our own.

The class has heard from Chief Executive Change Leader Jane Behrends (left), who has led change initiatives in fortune 30 companies like Walmart, Target and Nike. The class also heard from two of GSW's own: Dr. Neal Weaver (middle) shared his experience of transitioning to a president role and Coach Nicole Levering (right) shared strategies on maintaining and improving athletic performance. They have all done a great job, and their experiences have made a tremendous impact to the class.


student dressed in 1700s attireStudents get engaged in English class

Students in several general education classes in the Department of English and Modern Languages have been working with Reacting to the Past, an active learning pedagogy where students use primary texts to engage in intellectual debates set in various pivotal historical moments. Reacting is a game created to encourage a student-centered learning environment; the students control the classroom, and the instructor becomes a “Gamemaster” to keep things on track. 

Professor of English Genie Bryan, Ph.D., has seen great student engagement in these exercises, with some students even coming to class in historically appropriate attire. Our students role play characters and their writing is immediate to the game happening in the class. The game creates competition encouraging students to write and research beyond basic requirements in order to win. Many report that they work harder than they have ever worked, but that because this is a game it doesn’t feel like work. The excitement generated creates an uncommon learning environment. 

This photograph is from the game Patriots, Loyalists, and Revolution in New York, 1775-1776. Connor Mathis is dressed as his character who is a Loyalist attempting to save the colony from breaking from Great Britain. Other characters role play Patriots who argue that revolution is necessary. The students uncover the complex reasons behind the American Revolution and read primary documents from writers such as John Locke and Thomas Paine in preparation for their debates in the Provincial Congress of New York. The last game sessions involve a debate of a draft of the Declaration of Independence and a final vote on the issue of independence.

shirt designStaff Senate hosting t-shirt fundraiser

GSW's Staff Senate is hosting a t-shirt fundraiser to support their book scholarships, which support current GSW employees in their pursuit of higher education.

The fundraiser will run through November 16 at noon and shirts should be ready by the first week of December.

All shirts  both short and long sleeve  are Gildan 100% pre-shrunk cotton.

  • Short Sleeve (XS–XL): $13
  • Short Sleeve (2XL–4XL): $16
  • Long Sleeve (XS–XL): $16
  • Long Sleeve (2XL–4XL): $19

Fill out this form to place your order before November 16 at noon.

Student Recognitions

K.J. DanielsCanes Spotlight announced for October

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

The October Canes Spotlight was junior chemistry major K.J. Daniels.

"I chose to attend GSW because it has a small teacher-to-student ratio, so I knew I could form more practical relationships with my peers and professors," said senior K.J. Daniels. "GSW has a very small science department, but that also leads to opportunities for students like me to take on more responsibility and options than they may not have been given elsewhere."

K.J. can often be found participating in events like Science Day, serving as president of the Chemistry Club, or conducting research with faculty. "I’ve learned that head knowledge...isn’t enough to get you through what you need to do in life. You have to have that head knowledge and that practical experience that you get only by becoming involved in something. My chemistry labs and undergraduate research have helped me learn and grow as a student."

Canes Spotlights are nominated by GSW faculty and staff.

Seven students inducted into Upsilon Pi Epsilon

GSW's Eta Chapter of Upsilon Pi Epsilon (UPE) recently held its 20th Induction Ceremony October 25, 2023, in the Wheatley Administration Building Rotunda. Seven new members were inducted into GSW's Eta Chapter. They are Jazmin Aparicio-Malacara, Shaylan Daniel, Jerome Harney, MaShayla Kendrick, Amanda Green, Jasmin Sparks, and Tyeshia Walker. Following the ceremony, a reception was held in honor of the new members and the current and past members who were in attendance.

To be eligible for membership in UPE, undergraduate students must rank in the upper 35% of their class, have a minimum GPA of a 3.0, and have completed at least 45 semester hours including 15 semester hours in the basic courses in the Computing and Information Disciplines. Graduate students must be in the upper 35% of their class, have a minimum GPA of a 3.5, and have completed at least half of their required course work in the degree program.

UPE is the first and only, existing international honor society in the Computing and Information Disciplines. GSW’s Eta Chapter of Upsilon Pi Epsilon was founded Fall semester 2001. Dr. Karen Cook is the founding faculty advisor.



Robins presents at US Naval Academy

Professor of History and Chair of the Department of History and Political Science Glenn Robins, Ph.D., participated the McMullen Naval History Symposium. The McMullen, billed as the largest naval history conference in the world, convenes biannually at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.

Robins presented a paper entitled “The Rickover Resume: Jimmy Carter, Naval Power, and National Security.” His paper examined Carter’s appropriation of his service in the nuclear Navy, his personal strategic thought, and his relationship with Admiral Hyman Rickover. The research was part of a larger project that considers Carter’s actions and decisions as Commander in Chief of the United States military. While at the academy, Robins was able to tour the USNA campus, known as the yard. He even visited Carter Hall, named in honor of Class of 1947 graduate Jimmy Carter.

Jones presents at conference

On Oct. 6, Assistant Professor of Communication Ashley P. Jones, Ph.D., presented at the annual Organization for the Study of Communication, Language and Gender (OSCLG) on the theme of failure. Her presentation, titled "Unachieved Ambitions: The Failure of Infertility Representation in Psychonauts 2" explored the pitfalls of the game's infertility representation by commodifying having a baby and prioritizing white, wealthy families over historically oppressed and marginalized families.

Abbott and McKie pose in front of presentationAbbott and McKie present at Florida conference

Professor and Dean of the College of Education Rachel Abbott, Ph.D., and Assistant Professor and Assessment Director Michele McKie, Ed.D., presented at the Florida Association of Teacher Educators on October 21, 2023. Their presentation, titled "Supporting Early Career Educators through a Community Induction Program," illustrated how they worked with a local community organization and the university to support induction teachers (years 1-3) and undergraduate teacher candidates serving in teacher-of-record roles through an intentional program to provide professional development and support, through relationship-driven methods, in FY2022. They described how they planned the partnership, recruited faculty to support the program, the outcomes of the events from this year, and plans for AY2023.

Participants left the presentation with ideas to create similar partnerships to support intentional methods to retain new educators outside the traditional school environment.

becca-jones.jpgJones to compete at Texas conference

Senior Lecturer of Marketing Becca Jones will compete in the Society for Marketing Advances "Innovations in Teaching Competition" at the annual conference in Fort Worth, Tex. from Nov. 8-11. Her innovation submission was accepted and will appear in the conference proceedings.

Her presentation, titled "Problem-Solving for Student Recruitment," discusses the exorbitant costs associated with student recruitment and the scarce number of recruitment positions hired to handle those efforts. This submission discusses using experiential learning to help minimize that gap. Personal Selling students will be combining the use of social proof and sales tactics to sell their universities to potential students at the high school level. By using Personal Selling students as the medium in the communication model, the potential students will be more influenced by their promotional messages pertaining to their universities. This will also serve as a service learning opportunity because current students will be giving back to their community in order to help combat an under addressed social issue. Lack of education about certain programs, in this case university offerings, often leads to a cyclical pattern of specific disparities among families, socially immobilizing them. Education, or lack thereof, is “one of the root causes of unemployment, income disparity, and social unhappiness” (Shah, 2020). The CDC has identified several health disparities due to inequitable education including a higher likelihood of: “obesity, substance abuse, and intentional and unintentional injury” (CDC, 2023). Reports indicated that higher levels of education were correlated with a longer life and a higher probability of acquiring basic health information to help make pertinent health decisions (CDC, 2023). The sales students have an opportunity to help improve society with their efforts in this class. This innovation challenges the current status quo and demands that we, as a society, need to rethink our channel structure in order to reach those individuals that seem to be stuck in the disparity cycle due to inequitable and inaccessible information about social and educational programs.

Awards & Grants

September Employees of the Month recognized

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.

The September Employees of the Month were:

  • Allison Tarrer, Lecturer of Special Education
  • George Banketas, Reporting and Data Management Specialist
  • Brandy Pfeiffer, Lecturer

Employees of the Month

Smith receives McBrayer Award for article on creedal nationalism

Professor of Political Science Brian Smith, Ph.D., received The The McBrayer Award from the Georgia Political Science Association (GPSA). This award is presented in years when a paper of outstanding scholarship within the discipline is presented in its entirety on the GPSA annual meeting program and subsequently recognized as such at the discretion of the Editorial Board and Editor(s) of Questions in Politics, the scholarly journal of the GPSA.

The GPSA said the following about Smith's work:

"The McBrayer Award winner for 2022, presented in 2023, was a difficult decision given the quality of the papers accepted for publication in this volume. However, one paper stood out for its originality and contribution to the discipline. That paper is 'From Rebellion to Equality: The Rhetoric of Creedal Nationalism in Early American Abolitionist Movements,' authored by Brian G. Smith. This paper explores the use of 'creedal nationalism' to motivate and expand the abolitionist movement from the 1820s to the 1840s. Smith examines how 'All men are created equal' evolves from the anti-monarchy claim to the near-sacred claim, espousing a civic equality from which American national identity can be defined. Using an original analysis from primary texts in American political development and thought, Smith’s explication of creedal nationalism and its use in the early American Republic is original, insightful, and a significant contribution to numerous fields of political science."


Smith's article "From Rebellion to Equality: The Rhetoric of Creedal Nationalism in Early American Abolitionist Movements" is available online. It was published in the journal Questions in Politics on Oct. 19, 2023.

Hobbs wins award for research work

Assistant Professor of Information Technology Jonathan Hobbs, Ph.D., received a Research Paper Award following his presentation at the International Association for Computer Information Systems (IACIS) Annual Conference. His paper was titled "Cybersecurity Awareness in Higher Education."

Teasley appointed to nursing education committee

Interim Dean of the College of Nursing and Health Sciences Teresa Teasley, DNP, has been appointed to the Georgia Board of Nursing Education Committee. She was featured, along with other committee members, in the Fall 2023 issue of The Georgia Nurse magazine.

Employment Updates

New Hires

Joseph Castongia joined Physical Plants as the Assistant Director of Physical Plant Operations on Oct. 23.

Promotion & Title Changes

Paul Dahlgren, Ph.D., has been named QEP Director in addition to his current duties as Chair of the Department of English and Modern Languages and Professor of English. Jennifer Ryer, Ph.D., will serve as QEP Assistant Director in addition to her current duties as Senior Lecturer of English.

Teresa Teasley, D.N.P., has been named Interim Dean of the College of Nursing and Health Sciences. Michelle Ragsdale, Ed.D., will serve as Interim Associate Dean of the College of Nursing and Health Sciences, while Laura Stanley will serve as Interim ASN Program Coordinator.


John Wilson, reference librarian and government document coordinator in the James Earl Carter Library, exited that role on October 17, 2023.

Renda Lee, accomodations & access assistant in the Office of Accomodations and Access, exited that role on October 27, 2023.


Baby WatsonWatson family welcomes baby Wylie James "Beau"

Jessica Watson and her husband Ben proudly welcomed a baby boy into the world on Monday, October 2, 2023 at 8:28 a.m.

Wylie James "Beau" Watson arrived weighing 7 lbs. 15 oz. and measuring 21 inches long.

He joins big brother Will and big sister Cali. Mom and baby are doing great.

Watson serves as an assistant professor in College of Education (COE). She joined the COE in Summer 2022 and transitioned into her current role in Fall 2022.

Hurricane Gratitude

"I’d like to thank everyone involved in making the TEDxGeorgiaSouthwesternU event possible! Physical Plant, IIT, Aladdin Food Services, the GSW Foundation and other local donors made planning and decorating an ease along with the hard work of additional volunteers including Dr. Benjamin Meador, Dr. Nellie Iordanova, Dr. Darrin Theriault, GSW student Marshals, and IT interns. Bob Slenker, Jonathan Hobbs, and Royce Hackett also created an amazing production for our online viewers. This event would not have been possible without each of our TEDx committee members, and I am thankful for everyone’s participation and attendance!"

- Hailey Henderson, Web Content Strategist and TEDx Licensee

"Thank you to all of those who helped make our 14th annual President’s Golf Classic a fun and successful event! We had a record number of hole sponsorships and great team participation with all proceeds going to support Hurricane Athletics."

- Signe Coombs, Senior Associate Director of Athletics

Past Events

Faculty and students participate in Marion County STEAM Night

On Oct. 10, several GSW faculty and students participated in Marion County's STEAM Night for over 90 students.

The Exercise Science & Wellness Club conducted health assessment including measuring blood pressure, isometric pull, and handgrip strength.

Dr. N. Iordanova demonstrated how superconductors work and made liquid nitrogen ice cream. Her participation in the event was funded by the Southwest Georgia American Chemical Society (SOWEGA ACS) local section.

Other participants included the School of Nursing, the Department of Music, Communication & Emerging Media, the Department of Biology, and the College of Education.

HR Club hears from Delta Airlines HR professional
The HR Club was honored to have a guest speaker from Delta Airlines, International HR Business Partner  Sheldon O'Steen, on Oct. 10.
He provided some context to the HR practices affecting through the pandemic and post pandemic. It was a great presentation that highlighted a wide range of business practices from profitability, funding employee profit sharing plans, dealing with employee practices in the European Union, and their process of talent management.
HR Club group photo

College of Education hosts FGE Day

The College of Education (COE) welcomed students from Crisp, Sumter, and Pelham City Schools on campus for another fantastic Future Georgia Educators (FGE) Day on October 19, 2023.

The COE thanks the Professional Association of Georgia Educators, especially Mary Ruth and Michelle for their help. Attendees enjoyed Georgia Teacher of the Year Christy Todd’s message - be an influencer, be a teacher!

education majors with Georgia Teacher of the Year

AAMI hosts workshops

GSW's African-American Male Initiative (AAMI) hosted three workshops over the last few months. The first featured Sumter County Sheriff Eric Bryant (left). His workshop on Aug. 22 was titled "Finish Your College Education." He talked about setting goals early, mapping a plan and sticking with that plan no matter what surroundings may bring. He also expressed the downfall of many students by violating the student conduct laws and how to not fall in that trap. The members' questions added to his in-depth speech. He emphasized to all members to do something every day to bring them close to their goals.

On Aug. 12, Marion Pugh (middle) of Georgia Southern University presented a workshop titled "Manhood Mindset." He focused on getting educated, overall plans for getting educated and how the system can seem to work against plans to be educated, but cannot destroy it. The workshop enlightened AAMI members and produced some great question and answer sessions. Pugh insisted that all members will succeed in life, not immediately but definitely.

On. Sep 22, local entrepreneur and civic leader Courtney Moore (right) presented a workshop titled "Becoming a Man." In this interactive workshop, AAMI members presented questions and actual situations that they had experienced at some point in their lives. Moore gave answers that were factual in order to become the person you want to be. He expressed that every situation doesn’t need your attention and every time your feelings are hurt, you need to stop and decide on how you can handle yourself respectfully. All aspects of life were discussed from relationships, jobs, racism and law enforcement. The members were really active in their questions and answers. He also expressed that anything you have in your life that is valuable, it does not compare to the value of your life.

speakers talk to AAMI students

Staff Senate visits glassblowing studio

The GSW Staff Senate hosted staff members for a glassblowing demonstration in Fine Arts on Monday, October 23 as part of their ongoing “Let’s Break to Educate” initiative. Approximately 20 staff members enjoyed watching visual arts students in Professor Charles Wells’ Beginning, Intermediate and Advanced Glassblowing classes create pieces such as wine goblets and a glass head.

Upcoming Events

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