Skip to main content

Issue 12: September 2022


Georgia Southwestern ranks #48 among Top Public Universities in the South

GSW has been recognized by U.S. News and World Report as one of the South’s top regional universities, appearing at #48 on the Top Public Universities in the South in the 2022 edition of Best Colleges by U.S. News Media Group. 

“This latest ranking serves as further validation for the type of experience that awaits prospective Georgia Southwestern students,” said GSW President Neal Weaver, Ph.D. “I am pleased but not surprised that U.S. News and World Report has recognized GSW as one of the best universities in the South.”

The ranking is one of many signifiers of GSW’s growing momentum in a number of areas. The University has recently been recognized as the #1 nursing school in Georgia, continues to see record-breaking enrollment numbers, and has exceeded fundraising records in recent years. GSW plans to continue this momentum with Propel: GSW’s Campaign for Scholarships, which aims to raise $1 million for student scholarships over the next year and a half.

Read more about GSW's ranking here.

aerial photo of campus

GSW raises nearly $95,000 on Day of Giving from 45 states

In just 24 hours, GSW raised a total of $94,563 during its fourth annual Day of Giving, which ran midnight to midnight on Thursday, September 22.

A total of 321 gifts from 291 donors rolled in from 45 states and three countries. This year, the Hurricanes focused on raising money for student scholarships – particularly the Southwestern Promise Scholarship, General Athletics, President Jimmy Carter Leadership Program, and the Southwestern Annual Fund.

“I am so proud of the GSW family for how they support this unique, philanthropic effort each year,” said Stephen Snyder, executive director of the GSW Foundation and assistant vice president for Advancement. “We are now raising phenomenal amounts of money during this annual event, but just as important – we have more donors participating year over year. In 2022, 31 percent more donors made contributions than in 2021.” 

During the 24-hour timeframe, GSW attempted to gain donors from all fifty U.S. states asking contributors to “turn the map gold.” The GSW community watched in anticipation throughout the day as each state turned gold when a gift was received. The 50 states initiative is a creative way to achieve more donor participation, and in year two, that objective is being accomplished. Donors from only six states made a gift in 2019. Alumni and friends from a whopping 45 states contributed in 2022.

Read more about the 2022 Day of Giving results here and check out the photo album on Facebook.

GSW will ‘Propel’ students forward by raising $1 million in scholarship funds

There is a powerful force behind many Georgia Southwestern State University students propelling them forward, as over 300 of them receive private scholarship funding from 120 GSW Foundation scholarship funds. Over the next year and a half, GSW plans to add to that total and fulfill current unmet needs by raising $1 million in scholarship funding.

University officials made this formal announcement today during the annual Scholarship “Thank You” Day. This fundraising effort is titled “Propel: GSW’s Campaign for Scholarships.” 

“Scholarship opportunities are a major factor when prospective students are considering which college they will attend,” said GSW President Neal Weaver, Ph.D. “Over the next year and a half, we will be raising funds for existing scholarships and establishing new ones. I believe in what a degree from Georgia Southwestern provides, and I am confident that current and potential donors will be prepared to support our efforts.”

The $1 million scholarship funding campaign will conclude at a scholarship gala at the end of January 2024. Between now and then, potential donors, GSW alumni and friends alike, will have many opportunities to contribute – beginning with the Day of Giving on September 22.

Read more about the Propel campaign here.



GSW launches one-on-one peer mentor program

The new GSW mentor program matches upperclassmen or graduate student mentors with either freshman, sophomores, or anyone feeling like they need a mentor in college. Mentors advise students about a range of topics such as academics, time management, staying organized, well-being/stress, social life, juggling school and a job, and work/life balance.

Individual students will be matched up with a mentor based on the strength of the mentor and the needs of the student seeking a mentor. This is a program to help students navigate and be successful at GSW by learning from another student who has overcome similar challenges.

If you are a student interested in signing up to be a mentor or getting a mentor, please fill out this form. Assistant Professor of psychology Sally Merritt, Ph.D., in the Department of Psychology and Sociology is running this program with the help of GSW student Bryan Sales, who is serving as program coordinator. Merritt created and ran a similar program at Tulane University while getting her Ph.D. Tulane undergraduate students evaluated the program highly, saying their mentors helped them be academically successful, feel like they belonged at college, and offered great advice/tips.

Planned GSW mentor program events include training sessions for mentors and meet-and-greets for those involved in the program.

Homecoming & Family Weekend makes successful return to fall

Homecoming & Family Weekend, which was held September 19-24, 2022, was full of great activities, including the SGA Homecoming Kick-Off & Golf Cart Parade, Glow Night, the Blue & Gold Picnic, Think Fast, flag football, Day of Giving, and the Homecoming Concert featuring Cupid. Campus was lit up in blue and gold throughout the week, with window painting adorning campus buildings and spirit boards, created as part of a new competition amongst campus organizations, lining Hello Walk. We closed out Homecoming & Family Weekend on a busy Saturday with the Canes Family Brunch, Tailgate, Homecoming Kings & Queens Alumni Reunion, and the coronation of our new Mr. & Miss GSW.

GSW students open for Cupid

Alongside Cupid and his entourage, the Homecoming Concert on Thursday night featured two GSW students. Justin Smith (Jai Tymes) and Isaiah Dunschee (KNG Rahsaan) opened for Cupid to great reviews. Both have been releasing music for a  few years. Justin put out his frist EP in December 2020, while Isaiah released his first single in July 2021 and plans to drop his fourth in late October 2022.

Alumni return for Homecoming Kings and Queens Reunion

Twelve former Homecoming Kings and Queens were recognized at halftime of the women's soccer match, including:

  • Claudia Sikes, 1968 Homecoming Queen
  • Jennifer Perry Buford, 1982 Homecoming Queen
  • Larry Brown & Bertha Fields, 2002 Homecoming King & Queen
  • Asha Odums Cannon, 2003 Homecoming Queen
  • Keeyon Battle, 2004 Homecoming King
  • Tyler Pennington, 2017 Homecoming King
  • Chris Avery, 2019 Homecoming King
  • Jacob Peed & Shannon Griffin, 2021 Homecoming King & Queen
  • Palmer Braunstein & Chavis Dunbar, 2022 Homecoming King & Queen

Despite both Saturday soccer games vs. Lander University concluding in a scoreless draw, both teams are trending upwards against the Bearcats, who have been historically tough matchups for the Hurricanes.

Justin Smith and Jennifer Page are crowed Mr. and Miss GSWJustin Smith & Jennifer Page named Mr. & Miss GSW

The Homecoming Court was presented at halftime of the men's soccer game. Mr. & Miss GSW candidates this year were:

  • Henderson Hurdle – President Jimmy Carter Leadership Program
  • Jennifer Page – Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.
  • Carrington Price – Zeta Tau Alpha Sorority
  • Anna Johnson – Kappa Delta Sorority
  • Teewon Beglar – Artist United
  • Justin Smith – Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.
  • Isaiah Dunschee – The Brotherhood
  • Jamal Floyd – Artist United
  • Matthew Cannon – Sigma Chi Fraternity

Justin Smith and Jennifer Page (pictured at right) were announced as the 2022-23 Mr. & Miss GSW. Justin was crowned by outgoing Mr. GSW and Homecoming King Palmer Braunstein, while Jennifer was crowned by outgoing Miss GSW LaDona Taylor and outgoing Homecoming Queen Chavis Dunbar.

Justin is a junior exercise science major from Americus, Ga. Jennifer is a senior nursing major from Stone Mountain, Ga., who is minoring in Long-Term Care Management.

Thank you to all of our students, faculty, staff, community members, family and alumni for making our first Homecoming back in the fall a memorable one!

Check out the full photo album here.

2022-2023 Chamber Concert Series kicks off first of six performances

The 2022-2023 Chamber Concert Series, hosted for the last 44 years by the Department of Music, Communication, and Emerging Media, kicked off on September 29 with pianist Evren Ozel.

All concerts are held at 7:30pm in Jackson Hall, including:

  • Tuesday, October 11: Astralis Chamber Ensemble
  • Wednesday, November 16: Konrad Paszkudski Trio
  • Tuesday, January 24: Dash Duo, trumpets
  • Thursday, March 2: Faculty & Friends Recital
  • Tuesday, April 4: Adam Sadberry, flute

GSW faculty and staff may purchase season tickets for $50 for all of the concerts ($10/concert at the door) or become a patron of the GSW Chamber Concert Series for as little as $75, which includes one season ticket, your name printed in each program, and an invitation to post-concert receptions to meet the musicians.

GSW students can attend each concert for free with their GSW ID. Children under 12 also attend free, while adults are $12.

For more information or to purchase season tickets, call (229) 931-2204.

Free flu vaccines available for students

The Herschel A. Smith Health Clinic has flu vaccines available for students at no charge. Faculty and staff can elect to get their flu vaccines for a flat fee of $20. No appointment is necessary, walk-ins are welcome.

The Health Clinic is open Monday-Thursday 8am-5pm and Friday 8am-2pm. For questions, call (229) 931-2235 or visit

Media students work with local organizations

Students from Dr. Jones' Creating for Online Media class are working with local organizations to create media marketing products based on the needs of the organizations. Projects include social media posts, infographics, photo essays, and video stories.

Students pictured are working with (clockwise from top middle) T31, Art Hive, Americus Main Street, and Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA).

Marcus Faison speaks to studentsAAMI hosts Marcus Faison as speaker

On Tuesday, September 20, 2022, Assistant Coach Marcus Faison, gave an interactive heartfelt workshop, titled "Motivation - Where are You Now - How to Finish the Race," to the members of the GSW African American Male Institute (AAMI). He gave examples and situations where, as a student, you must continue on and never give up on your pursuit of becoming a college graduate. He expressed how your academic and social life will have a profound influence in all of your career goals. He also told the students that they are here today for a purpose and make sure you take advantage of this opportunity.

Faison is from Wilmington North Carolina and graduated from Laney High School. He graduated from Methodist University with a BS Degree and an MBA in Business Administration. He has worked in Higher Education for 12 years at Methodist University, Fayetteville State University, Cape Fear Community College and Brunswick Community College. He also has worked in Student Life and presently is in his first year as the Assistant Coach of the GSW Men’s Basketball team.

faculty and student make ice creamChemistry Club makes liquid nitrogen ice cream at Homecoming Tailgate

Professor of chemistry N. Iordanova, Ph.D,  Associate Professor of exercise science Benjamin Meador, Ph.D., and Chemistry Club member KJ.. Daniels made liquid nitrogen ice cream - complete with sprinkles and chocolate syrup - at the Homecoming Tailgate on September 24, 2022. 

The event was sponsored by the American Chemical Society Southwest Georgia Local section, and allowed more than 150 GSW faculty, staff, students, families, alumni, and other visitors to enjoy the ice cream and learn about the GSW's Chemistry Club.


Dr. Berggren presents at conferenceBerggren presents at public history conference in Germany

In August 2022, Associate Professor of political science Jason Berggren, Ph.D., presented at the Sixth World Conference of the International Federation of Public History. The four-day conference was held at the Free University in Berlin, Germany. He presented as part of a panel entitled, “Democracy on Display: Reflections on the New Exhibitions of Former Statesmen and Remaining Challenges.”

His presentation focused on his work with the new public education exhibits at the Jimmy Carter National Historical Park in Plains and the 2021 special history study he co-authored for the National Park Service with Dr. Adrienne Petty of the College of William and Mary. He also addressed some of the challenges of doing public history at presidential historic sites in his remarks.


Wang advice featured on WalletHub

Associate Professor Qian "Maggie" Wang, Ph.D., was recently featured on the credit and personal finance website WalletHub. Wang's expertise on car insurance premiums was featured in an “Ask the Experts” column.

Read the full piece here.

Fisk publishes three peer-reviewed papers

Professor of Psychology Gary Fisk, Ph.D., has three peer-reviewed publications coming out in 2022. A paper on the methodology of unconscious perception research was published in Psychology of Consciousness: Theory, Research, and Practice (a journal published by the American Psychological Association). The second paper described a failure replicate emotional Stroop effects in an online testing methodology. This was published in the Journal of Articles in Support of the Null Hypothesis. The third paper (in press at Cognition, Brain, Behavior: An Interdisciplinary Journal) is about a phenomenon called "crowding" in peripheral vision and how it relates to visual masking effects.

These projects included GSW students as participants or research assistants.

Awards & Grants

Sondra Smith presented with awardSmith named Rotary Club's Rookie of the Year

Assistant Professor of accounting Sondra Smith, D.B.A., CPA, was awarded the Rookie of the Year by the Rotary Club of Americus. The Rookie of the Year Award recognizes a new member who has become fully involved and engaged in the Club projects and programs in the first year of his/her membership.

Smith is pictured here receiving her award from Kenny Phillips, Immediate Past President of the Rotary Club of Americus.

Smith joined GSW's College of Business and Computing in 2021. Her primary areas of research include the usage of data analytics in the field of auditing, fraud, time-driven activity-based costing, and online teaching.

Conner receives ELF grant to launch Hurricane Pitch Competition, students invited to compete for cash prizes

Pope Professor & Associate Professor of Marketing in the College of Business and Computing Suzanne Conner, Ph.D., is excited to announce funding she received through the GSW Foundation’s Educational Leadership Fund (ELF) Committee. These funds, totaling $12,500, will be utilized to launch the first, and hopefully annual, Hurricane Pitch Competition.

The competition, open to all on-campus students, will launch on October 5 with an information session. During the 2022-2023 academic year, students will meet regularly to work on their business plans. In late spring, the business plans will be submitted to a committee, and the best plans will “pitch” their idea before a panel of judges and the community during a live event on April 19, 2023. First prize will be $7,500 and the People’s Choice Award will receive $3,000.

“For the past year I have been working with students to create their business plans as part of the Pope Professorship. During this time, I’ve seen great ideas, dedication, and passion," Conner said. "However, like many entrepreneurs, our students struggle with the funds to launch their business."

"I saw the application for the GSW Educational Leadership Fund as an opportunity to bring some of our students’ ideas and hard work to life. Not only will it help our students but the communities they call home. I am so thankful to the GSW Foundation for this grant and look forward to working with GSW Hurricanes from across campus throughout the year."

On-campus students who have a business idea are encouraged to contact Conner at Students participating will need to get involved by October 12 to stay on track with competition deadlines over the coming weeks.

Huffman elected to serve on House of Delegates for national organization

Assistant Professor Mary Huffman, Ed.D., was elected to serve on the College University Faculty Assembly (CUFA) delegation to the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) House of Delegates. This is a three-year term that will begin on December 2, 2022. Huffman will be recognized at the 2022 CUFA Annual Conference in Philadelphia, Pa.

New Hires, Promotions, Retirements, & Farewells

New Hires

Phong Minh Diep joined the Office of Information and Instructional Technology as a Computer and Imaging Technician on September 12, 2022.

Katelyn Monroe Wood joined the Office of Recruitment and Admissions as Part-time Admissions Assistant on September 19, 2022.

Renda Lee joined the Office of Accommodations and Access and Testing Center as the Accommodations and Access Assistant on September 26, 2022.

Geremy Wayne Vincent joined Physical Plant as a locksmith on September 26, 2022.


Classie Johnson, Accounts Payable Supervisor in the Office of Accounting Services, left that role on September 2, 2022.

Shannon Greene, Assistant Director of Athletics for Sports Medicine in the Department of Athletics, left that role on September 2, 2022. She will stay on as a part-time instructor through the end of the semester.

Travis Crafter, Director of Counseling in the Office of Health and Counseling Services, left that role on September 9, 2022. Hhe will stay on as a part-time instructor through the end of the semester.

Ashley Stallings, Accountant for the GSW Foundation, left that role on September 16, 2022.

Micah Whittaker, Computer Technician in the Office of Information and Instructional Technology, left that role on September 30, 2022.

Bryce Lawson, Assistant Athletic Trainer in the Department of Athletics, left that role on September 30, 2022. He will stay on as a part-time instructor through the end of the semester.

Hurricane Gratitude

The College of Education faculty and staff would like to send a huge hug, love, and appreciation for Dr. Rachel Abbott, Dean of the College of Education. I have never seen anyone dedicate so much of their life to create a such a welcoming and supportive work environment. She goes above and beyond to show all of us that she respects us and our students. She is our Mama Bear, our lifeline, and our role model every single day!

– Dr. Mary Huffman

I want to sincerely thank all of the faculty, staff and students who volunteered at the 16 participating restaurants during GSW’s Day of Giving. That effort of the day would not be possible without all of the friendly, smiling Hurricane faces greeting patrons as they dined at each of the local restaurants. It was a very successful day!

– Chelsea Collins

On behalf of SES, I wanted to take a moment to thank everyone that had a hand in making Fall 2022 Homecoming such a huge success. At every event, we had more than 400 students participate, and the feedback that I’ve already received so far has been awesome. Our campus community came together and brought Homecoming to life in a whole new way, and I was so proud to see this year’s outcome. The students and alumni really enjoyed themselves, and we could not have pulled that off without each and every one of you. Well over 100 people had a hand in Homecoming this year, and that in itself is such a blessing. It makes me proud to work for an institution where the faculty, staff, and students come together to give back to the students and alumni in this way.

To the Weavers, Dr. Boren, our Executive Board, RCL, SES, Athletics, Alumni Affairs, SGA, SET, GSW Drop, our Colleges, Plant, Campus Safety, Aladdin, Accounting, Purchasing, University Relations, RSOs, Greeks, and countless volunteers, thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Go Canes!

– Brooke Tome

In planning events and activities within Georgia Southwestern State University Advancement, the constant objective is to engage with all types of GSW constituents (students, faculty, staff, alumni, friends…). I am so pleased that GSW’s annual Day of Giving has become a model for overall engagement and goodwill in the community all with the objective to raise support for the betterment of GSW. More specific to our campus and our people, we had more campus volunteers than ever this year. I am so grateful for that. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that we had more donors participate than ever before. I am excited for next year, and we’re already thinking of how we can strengthen connections in 2023. Thank you GSW family!

– Stephen Snyder

GSW in the News

Past Events

teachers gather at induction eventCollege of Education hosts first Induction Support Event for new teachers

On September 13, 2022, the College of Education (COE) held its first Induction Support Event for interns and new teachers in the MSC Private Dining Room. Assistant Professor of Special Education and Assessment Director Michele McKie, Ed.D., updated and adapted the College of Education's previous Induction Program after reflecting on her research with interns. A theme coming out of the research showed how induction support was necessary for interns who are serving as teachers of record while completing their undergraduate degree.

To support the interns and new teachers, McKie asked the local chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma (DKG) Women Educator Group to partner with GSW's COE. DKG members currently working in P-12 schools invited new teachers to come socialize, learn about practices important for new teachers, and participate in reflective dialogue about their successes and struggles with the topic. To support interns, the COE included this event as a requirement to participate in an internship. DKG retired teachers sat at tables to support the interns and begin building relationships with them outside of their current internship placement. GSW faculty and staff attended to support the conversations around Behavior and Classroom Management. Assistant Dean and Associate Professor Christopher Pritchett, Ed.D., and Lecturer Zachery Ward served as professional development facilitators for the first event.

In attendance were 7 DKG members, 2 DKG/GSW members, 4 GSW faculty and staff, 8 interns, 4 new teachers, and 1 veteran teacher guest. There will be three more events this year strategically placed throughout the year around the “Phases of First-Year Teachers’ Attitudes Toward Teaching” continuum (Moir, 1990). Future events will focus on building parent relationships (October), building classroom community (January), and end of the year expectations (April).

Upcoming Events

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