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Issue 2: November 2021


Georgia Southwestern just shy of another record-breaking enrollment for Fall 2021

Georgia Southwestern State University’s Fall 2021 total enrollment is 3,158, just four students down from last year’s record-breaking year, as reported by the University System of Georgia (USG).

Among the system’s 26 institutions, the USG annual report stated enrollment increased at five, decreased at 20, and “remained unchanged” at Georgia Southwestern. Overall, the USG saw a decrease of 851 students or 0.2% from Fall 2020 to Fall 2021, reaching a total of 340,638 students. This is the first statewide decrease in enrollment since 2013.

“While the enrollment trend across the state and the nation seems to be in decline, we are proud that GSW remained relatively the same,” said GSW President Neal Weaver, Ph.D. “It is a challenging time for higher education, but Georgia Southwestern has fared well. We remain focused on recruiting and retaining students by offering programs relevant to today’s economy, ensuring their success in these programs, and enhancing the overall campus experience.”

Read more about enrollment at GSW and across the USG here.


GSW Visual Arts participates in 9th Annual ‘Empty Bowls’ project helping to eliminate hunger locally

Faculty and students in the Department of Visual Arts at GSW, along with several other local artists, came together once again to feed the hungry by selling hand-crafted ceramic bowls.

GSW Visual Arts and Americus-Sumter County Arts Council ‘Empty Bowls’ project took place Saturday, Nov. 6 from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church of Americus. 125 S Jackson St, Americus, GA 31709.

The goal for this year was to produce and sell 200 bowls at $20 each totaling $4,000 if all bowls are sold. Eighty percent of the proceeds collected from this event will benefit the Harvest of Hope Food Pantry, a local charity, while the Arts Council will keep the remainder.

“It's a great way for artists, charitable groups and businesses to work together,” said GSW Visual Arts Professor Keaton Wynn. “Through this project, students will see their creative potential turning nothing into something beautiful that has tangible value and a positive impact in the lives of others.”

By the close of this year's event, 196 bowls had been sold and $3,2000 was raised for Harvest of Hope.

Read more about the Empty Bowls project here.

ceramic bowls

It’s a Donkey! It’s a Chicken! It’s a . . . Chi-Donk-Ephant?

The lake area behind Georgia Southwestern’s Fine Arts Building is home to a host of different creatures. Geese, cats, and deer have all settled down to a view of the lake and the woods behind it. Perhaps competing for the most interesting sight are the singular duck that lives alongside the geese and the ever-watchful Chicken-Donkey-Elephant. Most would proclaim the latter to win the competition.

Created in 2011, the Chicken-Donkey-Elephant sculpture was born from a department-wide effort that began in sculpture professor Chuck Wells’ freshman 3-D Design class. Wells wanted his students to work on a large piece consisting of animal heads built from welded material. Further inspiration came from the election of President Barack Obama and the formation of the bipartisan Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, colloquially referred to as the Supercommittee.

What began as a project to reflect cooperation and consensus quickly transformed into a towering testament of the quarrelsome and disagreeable state between the Democratic and Republican parties. Although united as a group in the Supercommittee, the parties were unable to accomplish much, leaving their representatives “stuck together on chicken feet,” said Laurel Robinson, professor and chair of the Department of Visual Arts. “Things politically have gotten even more divisive, and yet we are still welded together!”

Read the full story here.



Carter Leadership students speak with Phoebe Sumter CEO

CEO of Phoebe Sumter Hospital Brandi Lunneborg spoke to the President Jimmy Carter Leadership Program’s second year cohort. She visited their LEAD 2030 class and shared her story and her experiences in leadership. She talked about her leadership philosophy, who influenced her, working through the COVID-19 pandemic, employee engagement, and community partnerships. She talked about how teamwork and collaboration are paramount in leadership and how important it is as a servant leader to help others grow. The LEAD 2030 class is taught by Director of First-Year Experience David Jenkins, Ed.D.

students with Brandi

Annual Hurricane Holiday Fest set for November 30

Georgia Southwestern annual Hurricane Holiday Fest is schedule for Tuesday, November 30. This festive event will be hosted by GSW's Student Government Association on Wheatly lawn from 6-8pm. It will include the annual lighting of the Wheatley Administration building, pictures with Santa, storytelling, Christmas carols, free hot cocoa and popcorn bar, snow games and activities for the kids!

Find the event on Facebook or Canes Connect.

GSW partners with SOWEGA CASA for annual Toy Drive

GSW is partnering with Southwest Georgia Court Appointed Special Advocates (SOWEGA CASA) for a Toy Drive during the month of November to benefit foster children in SOWEGA CASA’s 17-county service area. The goal is to provide gifts this Christmas season to 300 foster children, ages ranging from two months to 17 years old.

This year’s Toy Drive is led by the freshmen cohort in GSW’s President Jimmy Carter Leadership Program as part of their service-learning criteria required by the program.

“We would all be so grateful no matter how big or small your donation can be,” stated GSW freshman Alex Espitia from Newton, Ga. “With your help, we could provide over 300 smiles Christmas morning.”

The group is encouraging individuals to donate sports items (footballs, basketballs, bats, gloves, softballs, baseballs, etc.), bicycles and bicycle helmets, Vtech learning toys, tablets and tablet protectors, and gift cards to Wal-Mart, Amazon, or restaurants.

Click here for more information about how you can donate.


Science majors learn about importance of undergraduate research thanks to Innovative Program Grant event

On Thursday, October 28, faculty and students from chemistry, biology, and exercise science gathered in the MSC’s Private Dining Room for an event focused on mentoring undergraduate students to do research activities in their field of study.

Students were given the opportunity to observe professors present their latest research initiatives and explain the benefits of undergraduate research while enjoying dinner and ice cream made on the spot with liquid nitrogen.

Faculty presentations included:

  • Tom Lorenz, Ph.D. - Invasive species biology and reptile and fish behavioral ecology
  • Stephanie Harvey, Ph.D. – the GSW Herbarium and working with the National Park Service
  • Morgan Goulding, Ph.D. – Cells’ reorganization during the earliest steps of embryotic development, as they start to create the pattern of the body
  • Anh-Hue Tu, Ph.D. – Formation of bacterial biofilm and its impact on human health
  • Ian Brown, Ph.D. – Mosquito biology
  • Tzvetelin Iordanov, Ph.D. – Computational and experimental investigations in chemistry

Following presentations, organizer of the event and Professor of physical chemistry Nedialka Iordanova, Ph.D., then performed an experiment with the remaining liquid nitrogen turning a piece of rubber to a stiff, brittle material, so cold it was untouchable and making a small magnet levitate over a cooled superconductor. Students gathered around to receive an up-close look of the cooling power of liquid nitrogen in action.

Student participants were surprised at the end the evening with raffle prizes and gift cards encouraging students to participate in research and further study. Prizes included various items donated from the GSW bookstore with the grand prize of a microscope donated by Fisher Scientific.

The event was sponsored by an Innovative Program Grant from the American Chemical Society that Iordanova received in September in collaboration with faculty from the Chemistry Department at Valdosta State University.

Watch highlights of the event here.

LauraBoren.jpgBoren named to USG’s 2021-2022 Executive Leadership Institute class

Executive Vice President for Student Engagement and Success Laura Boren, Ph.D., is one of 34 USG faculty and staff members that have been named to the University System of Georgia’s (USG) 2021-2022 class of its Executive Leadership Institute (ELI).

For over a decade, USG has hosted ELI for faculty and staff who are ready for a cabinet-level position in the near future. Presidents nominate one academic leader and one staff leader to participate. From the nominees, individuals are selected for the six-month program during which they engage in a leadership development curriculum that includes content, personal reflection, job shadowing, and cross-mentoring. This year’s class began on Nov. 16, 2021.

Sigma Chi brothers pack Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes

Sigma Chi brothers recently volunteered their time to pack shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. “Their generosity and willingness to serve will be felt across the world when children receive these gifts,” said Stephanie Updike, Director of Bright Beginnings Preschool and mother of Sigma Chi member Freddie Updike. “What makes this even more special, is that some of these students started out at Bright Beginnings Preschool, First Methodist, and GSW’s [Pre-K].”

Sigma Chi brothers with packed boxes

A.J. Clark speaks to AAMI studentsClark speaks to AAMI students

On October 19, 2021, Men’s Assistant Basketball Coach and Head Cross Country Coach A.J. Clark spoke to African Americus Male Institute (AAMI) students. His workshop, titled “Balancing Your Health, Your Time and Your Education,” was a self-check for all AAMI members at midterm about the importance of their health, their time and their education to become successful graduates of GSW.

Clark is a graduate of Pfeiffer University with a degree in Sports Management. he spent the last two years in Wilmington, N.C. working for Groundwork Player Development where he held the role as Director of Basketball Operations and was also the founder of Groundwork’s travel ball organization where he was in charge of player development, managing training schedules, facility usage, camps and clinic interties.

Men’s soccer caps off best season in program history

The Georgia Southwestern men's soccer team was eliminated from their Peach Belt Conference tournament game on Nov. 7. The Hurricanes finished their season with a school record of six wins and a school record of four wins in conference.

The Hurricanes are the most successful team in school history and first to qualify for the conference tournament in the school's history. The team return all of their starters next season and look to continue the program's climb. Read more here.

Women’s soccer completes best season in program history

The Georgia Southwestern women's soccer team was eliminated from the Peach Belt Conference tournament on Nov. 6.

The Lady Canes are the first team in school history to compete in the Peach Belt Conference tournament. In Kerry Edwards's first year they broke the record for wins winning three more games than the previous winningest team, playing five fewer games as well.

Starting a true freshman at goal for the majority of the year the Lady Canes had more clean sheets than any team in program history. The Lady Canes will lose only one senior this season and look to improve next year with all of their returning players. Read more here.

nursing faculty with stuffing donationsSigma Theta Tau donates to local food pantry ahead of the holidays

GSW’s Mu Pi chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing collected 200 boxes of stuffing mix for the Harvest of Hope Food Pantry. These boxes of stuffing mix will be used for the annual Christmas food distribution to families in need in Sumter County.

Pictured are Counselor of Mu Pi chapter and Lecturer Rhonda Slocumb, Ph.D., and President of Mu Pi chapter and Associate Professor Michelle Dykes, Ed.D. Slocumb also served as coordinator for the stuffing mix collection.

Kappa Sigma brothers raise money for local boy battling leukemia

The Kappa Sigma fraternity at Georgia Southwestern hosted their annual Shave to Save event on October 31, 2021 where brothers and pledges shaved their heads in order to raise money in support of four-year-old Chanse Allen, a local boy who is battling leukemia.

students stand with flu clinic signStudent Health Center hosts flu vaccine clinic

On Thursday, November 11, 2021, the Student Health Center hosted a pop-up Flu Vaccine Clinic outside of the cafeteria with assistance from GSW nursing students.

With flu season in full swing and COVID-19 still spreading in our communities, remember to keep a check on your health. Since the flu and COVID-19 have similar symptoms, such as fever and/or chills, cough, fatigue, and sore throat, the CDC recommends testing to determine which illness is present.

The Health Center has plenty of flu shots available for free as well as COVID-19 vaccinations and testing.

Email or call (229) 931-2235 for more information. Walk-ins are welcome.

Men’s basketball ranks third and women’s basketball ranks fourth in PBC Preseason Poll

GSW’s men’s basketball team placed third in the preseason coaches poll with 66 points after reaching the PBC Tournament championship game for the first time in school history last year. The Hurricanes look to reach the NCAA tournament for the second straight year in the 2021-22 season, a feat that has never been done in the program's history.

GSW’s women’s basketball team placed fourth in their preseason coaches poll, marking the program's highest preseason ranking in program history. The Hurricanes are coming off a 9-6 season going 7-4 in the Peach Belt last year. Last season was the first winning season for the program since 2014-2015. In their third year under Coach Justin Payne the Lady Canes look to continue that improvement this season.

Coaches were not permitted to vote for their own teams.

Student Recognitions

Dante TatumDante Tatum named Preseason All-Conference

Senior guard, Dante Tatum, was named to the Preseason All-Conference Team.

An All-Peach Belt Conference first-team selection last year, Tatum started all 17 games and led the Hurricanes with 18.4 points per game. He was second on the team with 6.1 rebounds per game while averaging 2.0 assists and 1.3 steals per game. Tatum finished the season with nine 20-plus scoring games and a team-high four double-doubles. He turned in his best scoring night of the season with 27 points in the NCAA tournament against Lee University. He finished the season fifth in the PBC with 18.2 points per game and sixth with a 55.7 field goal average.

In the Hurricanes' last two exhibitions against Div-I Clemson and Jacksonville State, Dante shot 4-7 from three and led the team with 18 points against the Gamecocks.

Read more about Dante here.

Bryce BassCanes Spotlight announced for November

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

The November Canes Spotlight was senior computer science major Bryce Bass.

Bryce has gained invaluable work experience at GSW. "My student worker position as a web developer in the Department of University Relations was impactful and hands-on. I got to see how the University’s content management system (CMS) works and the business side of everything in terms of meetings and practices. It enhanced my knowledge in web development with real-life projects."

Bryce was instrumental in GSW’s recent transition to a new website, which allowed him to apply his knowledge from the classroom to such an essential University project. He recently began a full-time IT Analyst and Programmer position with GSW's Office of Information and Instructional Technology as he finishes out his undergraduate degree this fall.

Canes Spotlights are nominated by GSW faculty and staff.

Iann Wynn at GSA meetingIan Wynn presents paper at National Geological Society of America meeting

Ian Wynn, a double major in Geology and Mathematics, presented a paper in October 2021 entitled “A Study of the Mineralogical and Aesthetic Characteristics of Sediments in Gansu Province, China” during a session on “Recent Advances in Economic Geology” at the National Geological Society of America (GSA) meeting in Portland, Oregon.

Ian presented findings from his senior thesis research with Tom Weiland, Ph.D., on clay mineralogy in the Gansu region of China. As a part of research, Ian learned how to use both X-ray Diffraction and X-ray Florescence methods to characterize the chemistry of clay minerals in the samples. He then fired the clays in order to see if they might be useful in the ceramics industry. Ian, the son of GSW Visual Arts professor Keaton Wynn, will graduate in Spring 2022 and is applying to graduate programs in the geosciences. 

Zykarius HarshawZykarius Harshaw named AAMI student of the month

Freshman Zykarius Harshaw was named the GSW African Americus Male Institute (AAMI) Student of the Month for October. He is a native of Aragon, Ga. and is majoring in computer science.

According to AAMI Director Ervin Anderson, Zykarius "has shown the drive and commitment to the AAMI Program and his academic studies which is definitely leading to him becoming a GSW graduate."

Zykarius is also a member of The Brotherhood.

Hurricanes add three to All-Conference Team

he Georgia Southwestern men's soccer team had three players chosen for the All-Conference team. This is the first time in the program's history that more than one player from the team was chosen in the same season.

Cole Davison, Mohammed Mahrous, and Mauricio Uribe were the players chosen by the Peach Belt coaches.

Cole Davison was third on the team in points as a midfielder and was the veteran leader of a young group of midfielders.

Mohammed Mahrous a defender led the defense in allowing the fewest goals per game this season while also scoring two goals.

Mauricio Uribe was one of the two goalkeepers chosen this season. Mauricio Uribe made 45 saves with two shutouts while having the lowest goals per game average in school history.

The All-Conference team is listed below as selected by the league's head coaches. Coaches were not permitted to vote for their own players. Read more and find the full team roster here.


GSW Advancement team attends annual GEAC Conference, four staff members present

Members of GSW’s Division of University Advancement attended the 2021 Georgia Education Advancement Council (GEAC) Conference at Brasstown Valley Resort in Young Harris, Ga. November 17-19. With over 200 Georgia advancement professionals attending, the conference included track sessions on topics including advancement services, alumni relations, development, and marketing and communication. 

Those attending were (pictured L to R) Web Content Strategist Hailey Henderson; Alumni Engagement Specialist Angela Smith; Assistant Vice President for University Advancement and Executive Director of the GSW Foundation Stephen Snyder; Director of Marketing and Communications Chelsea Collins; GSW Foundation Advancement Services & Operations Manager Kearston Roland; and Public Relations Assistant Sydney Scott.

Smith presented a track session titled “Fostering Alumni Relations Using the ‘Four E Approach,’” while Snyder, Collins and Scott presented a session titled “Building a Successful Day of Giving Campaign.” 

Henderson was awarded a scholarship to the conference and was recognized at the GEAC awards dinner. The scholarship, provided by University System of Georgia (USG) Foundation, covered conference registration fees and accommodations.  

GEAC, Inc is a statewide organization for those at public and private colleges and universities who work in educational advancement including the areas of alumni, development, publications and communication.

Advancement staff at conference

Kaus presents paper at virtual conference

Assistant Professor of English Alaina Kaus, PhD, virtually presented a paper at the annual conference of the South Atlantic Modern Language Association on November 5. Her paper was titled "Human Rights and the Iraq War: Riverbend's Baghdad Burning."

Fisk presents at Psychonomic Society meeting

Professor of Psychology Gary Fisk, Ph.D., gave a presentation at the annual meeting of the Psychonomic Society on November 6. The presentation was about ways to improve the methodology of experiments on unconscious processes. The data in this presentation were collected by two upper-level psychology majors, Allison Rugel and Tyler Hughes.

Kutzler lectures at the Center for Georgia Studies

Assistant Professor of history Evan Kutzler, Ph.D, was recently invited to speak at the Center for Georgia Studies. His lecture, titled "The Freedom Layer: The Sumter School and Reconstruction at Andersonville," was given at Georgia College on November 11, 2021.


Laughlin at pianoLaughlin releases new album

Music Professor and Chair of the Department of Music, Communication, & Emerging Media Mark Laughlin, D.M.A., released a new album, “Chopin Nocturnes: The Georgia Recordings," on November 9, 2021. The album is a collection of Frederic Chopin's most popular nocturnes including nocturnes from Op. 9, Op. 15, Op. 27, and Op. 32.

This project, along with Laughlin's other albums, "The Music of Enrique Granados" and "Poulenc: Improvisations and Nocturnes," are available on YouTube Music, Spotify, and Amazon streaming services.

Listening samples of the album can be found here.

Kutzler article explores the history of doughboy statues in Americus

Assistant Professor of history Evan Kutzler, Ph.D, continued his local history articles for the Americus Times-Recorder with "The Artist and the Doughboy," published on November 3, 2021. The article explores the history of the Spirit of the American Doughboy statues in Americus.

New Hires, Promotions, & Retirements

MatthewMoore.JPGMatthew Moore promoted to HVAC Supervisor

Matthew Moore has been promoted to Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Supervisor within GSW’s Physical Plant. He has been with GSW for just over 5 years and previously worked as an HVAC Technician.

In his new role, Matthew will supervisor GSW's HVAC shop, schedule work for HVAC technicians, and oversee all HVAC needs for campus.

Matthew resides in Americus with his wife and GSW alumna Maggie (Fletcher) Moore, ’12, ’20 and their 4-year-old son James.

Awards & Grants

Chelsea Collins with awardCollins recognized for Excellence in Communications and Marketing at GEAC Conference

Director of Marketing and Communications Chelsea Collins received the Outstanding Excellence Award in Higher Education Communications and Marketing at the 2021 Georgia Education Advancement Council (GEAC) Conference at Brasstown Valley Resort in Young Harris, Ga. Collins, who serves on the GEAC Board of Directors, was nominated by colleague Angela Smith and voted on by fellow board members.

In her nomination form, Smith said, “Since taking on the role as Director of Marketing and Communications, Chelsea wasted no time and led the university through a comprehensive branding campaign which resulted in a new logo and a brand story that updated our ability to attract students and teaching talent, while harnessing community support through its messaging. Her personality is contagious and her ability to write exciting and noteworthy stories has added a new dimension to our ability to recruit, retain, and garner support.”

“She is extremely approachable and very likable, but is no pushover when it comes to branding consistency and is a "stickler" when it comes to proper use of logo, trademarks, and marketing materials. She holds an annual training for all faculty and staff in the proper use of our logo and brand messaging and will be the first to let us know when a logo has been altered (even in the slightest). She and her team have developed a Style Guide which lays out the visual identity and logo standards, and have created easy-to-use templates for creating PowerPoints, email signatures, and more. Additionally, she spearheads the Aeolian magazine, an annual full-color publication targeting alumni and friends of the university.”

“She led her team (made up of just two others) to create a myriad of digital and print materials for colleges and departments campus-wide and just this past year, successfully revamped and launched an incredible new website for the university. This was a massive undertaking and has been an incredible accomplishment. She is very proud of her amazing team, but fiercely protective of them and works tirelessly to ensure that they have what they need and are supported and encouraged in their efforts.”

“I have watched in amazement at how she balances family life with a very demanding and critical role on campus. She has made a huge difference in the way the university is perceived and has turned vision into reality by bringing the university to a place where we can grow to meet the ever-evolving needs and expectations of our administration, students, alumni, faculty, staff, donors, employers, community, and more! She leads by example with her work ethic and her overwhelming sense of duty to see that our university is seen as the jewel it is and we are so fortunate to have her in this role.”

Laughlin receives $15,000 music grant

Music Professor and Chair of the Department of Music, Communication, & Emerging Media Mark Laughlin, D.M.A., recently received a $15,000 Barnett Foundation's Music Grant from the James M. Barnett, Jr. Foundation. The Foundation was created as a charitable private organization by a bequest from Albert L. Betz for the purpose of supporting students of the arts, and particular music, at all levels from early development through college and post-graduate students.

The grant was made possible through the collaborative effort of Assistant Vice President for University Advancement and Executive Director of the GSW Foundation Stephen Snyder, Grant Consultant Sandra Cathy and Laughlin.

Upcoming Events

  • November 30: Hurricane Holiday Fest
  • November 30: Giving Tuesday
  • December 7: Waffles with the Weavers
  • December 8: Last day of class
  • December 9-10 and 13-14: Finals
  • December 17: Graduation

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