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Issue 9: June 2022


GSW contributes over $103 million economic impact to region, up 15 percent from previous year

GSW’s economic impact on the region was $103.2 million in fiscal year 2021, up 15 percent from last year at $89 million. 

The University System of Georgia (USG) and its 26 institutions served as a significant source of stability and played a critical role in the state’s recovery with a $19.3 billion statewide economic impact. While the USG’s overall economic impact was up 3.8 percent from fiscal year 2020, GSW had the largest percentage increase from a single institution in the system at 15 percent.

The new detailed report released by the USG revealed that GSW generated 1,102 full- and part-time jobs.

“Georgia Southwestern is an essential economic powerhouse for the region,” said GSW President Neal Weaver, Ph.D. “This report illustrates the important connection GSW has with the Southwest Georgia region, particularly Americus and Sumter County. By generating jobs, providing a boost to local businesses, and graduating career-ready students, we are proud to play such a significant role in the growth of our regional and state economy.”

The annual study, conducted by the Selig Center for Economic Growth in the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business, reported most of GSW’s $103.2 million economic impact consists of personnel and operating expenses, budgeted expenditures and spending by students.

Read more here.

Eighteen GSW students selected for prestigious President Jimmy Carter Leadership Program

GSW has named eighteen incoming 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 South Carolina are the fourth group to enter the program since its creation in 2019.

“I am excited to see how this dynamic and diverse group of students comes in and impacts the program, the University, and the community with their passion for and commitment to leadership and service,” said Mikela Barlow, interim coordinator for the President Jimmy Carter Leadership Program. “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. It is an honor for me to work with these future leaders in this prestigious program.”

Read more here.


New projects for GSW Athletics kick off thanks to fundraising success

Construction and renovation is underway on multiple capital improvement projects for the Department of Athletics at GSW.

These privately-funded Athletics projects include:

  1. Outfitting the former student fitness center into the new Athletics weight room
  2. Converting the previous Athletics weight room into a recruiting and meeting room
  3. Turning an existing underutilized room on the first floor of the Student Success Center into a basketball film room
  4. Installation of new stadium lighting at the baseball and softball fields
  5. Installation of permanent seating and fencing at the soccer field
  6. Renovation of the softball locker room to include new lockers and flooring
  7. Athletics branding at all project locations, including the recently constructed baseball locker room

Funding for these projects was made possible by a significant increase in corporate sponsorships, success of the Canes 360 program and the record-setting turnouts for signature GSW Athletics fundraising events at the President’s Golf Classic and Hail Storm. The work is also being made possible through support and partnership from the Georgia Southwestern Foundation who has provided funding up front to complete the projects.

Read more here.


girl uses GSW website on laptopGeorgia Southwestern celebrates one year with new website

It’s been one year since GSW launched an entirely new website created from scratch using Cascade CMS (content management system). Data from the last year has shown the project to be a huge success.

Since launch on May 17, 2021, GSW’s website ( has seen a more than 50 percent increase in impressions, a 15 percent increase in engagement, a 12 percent increase in page time views and a significant reduction of mobile site errors from approximately 500 to 0.

The modern design, fresh content and imagery, and consistent layouts in addition to repaired URLs, clutter removal and mobile responsiveness – all worked together to improve the overall visitor experience.

“The new site is more cohesive and strategic in content placement than it has ever been,” stated Hailey Henderson, website content strategist, who led the five-month project. “The effectiveness of search engine optimization, accessibility, and mobile usability has steadily increased our impressions and page experience over the past year. I am proud to have played a role in this project for GSW, and strive to make the site the best it can be.”

Read more here.

GSW Alumni Association elects six new board members

The Alumni Association at Georgia Southwestern State University is pleased to announce the addition of six new members elected to its Board of Directors: Pam Carswell of Macon, Luke Ellis of Americus, Marcus M. Johnson, Jr. of Macon, Tracy Law of Americus, Jessica Reese of Columbus and Hollie Scruggs-Walters of Americus.

“We’re excited to expand our board with six new members who will bring a variety of gifts and talents,” said Amy Benton, president of GSW’s Alumni Association. “Their diverse insight will help unite and encourage alumni loyalty, support and involvement in the University.”

Board members are nominated and voted on by current members. Their term will begin July 1, 2022 and they will serve a term of at least two years.

Read more here.


Women's basketball reloads with 2022-2023 class

The Georgia Southwestern women's basketball team led by Head Coach Justin Payne has added more firepower to an already loaded roster that gave the school its first-ever NCAA Tournament win in the first-ever appearance in the program's history. After losing Alyssa Nieves and Yasmin Perez this off-season the Lady Canes bring back their five top scorers next season and currently have five new additions including a 2022 NCAA DII National Champion and a division one transfer from Lousiana-Lafayette. The Lady Canes set their sights on even more history next season as they try to take the next step towards bringing a championship to Georgia Southwestern.

New players include:

  • Skyler Christmas, a D-I transfer from the University of Louisiana-Lafayette in Lafayette, La.
  • Destiny Garrett, a highly recruited transfer from Wallace State Community College-Hanceville in Hanceville, Ala.
  • Breanna Campbell, the leading scorer at Indian River Community College in Fort Pierce, Fla.
  • Jade Lewis, recent graduate from Midtown High School in Atlanta, Ga.
  • Tyesha Taylor, a transfer from defending National Champion Glenville State University in Glenville, W.Va.

Read more about the new players here.

PJ Wilson and husband Jesse after her graduationThe last best gift: One GSW Hurricane's winding path to graduation

It’s not often that a college student is enrolled in the same university and at the same time as her own daughter. But that was exactly the case for PJ (Riner) Wilson. A 1997 graduate of Tri-County High School in Marion County, Ga., PJ had big dreams of being a forensic scientist and decided to pursue her bachelor's degree in biology. She started her college career at Kennesaw State University where she could live with her dad, who she had never lived with before. After one year, she decided to move back home with her mom and grandmother in Buena Vista. So, she started at GSW where things were going pretty well until she discovered she was pregnant with her daughter Avery in late 2000.

Read more about PJ's journey back to GSW and her recent graduation here.

USG offers free mental health trainings

The University System of Georgia's Mental Health Initiative is offering two mental health trainings to all students, faculty, and staff within the USG. Both trainings are available at no cost to participants.

Question, Persuade and Refer (QPR) are three simple steps anyone can learn to help save a life from suicide. This is a 1.5 hour online session that includes didactic instruction and role-play exercises.

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) Training is a skills-based training course that teaches people how to identify, understand, and respons to signs of mental illness and substance use disorder. This training includes 2 hours of self-paded online pre-work and 6 hours of instructor-led online training.

Sign up here.

Day of Giving logoSave the date for GSW's Day of Giving and Give Southwestern this September

September will be a busy month on campus! GSW's Day of Giving—the University's annual fundraising campaign—will be held on September 22. This is an opportunity for Hurricanes around the nation—alumni, community members, parents, friends, faculty, staff, and students—to join together and show support for Georgia Southwestern. The goal for this year's 24-hour event is to raise $100,000 with the challenge to "Turn The Map Gold" by receiving donations from all 50 states and beyond!

GSW's month-long employee drive Give Southwestern will also run the month of September. GSW faculty and staff members are encouraged to support their chosen areas either by payroll deduction, through online giving, or by making in-person cash gifts. Employee donations and payroll deductions will be included in our Day of Giving total.

Harvey conducts survey of flora at Andersonville National Historic Site

Professor and Chair of Biology Stephanie Harvey, Ph.D., is conducting a survey of the flora of the Andersonville National Historic Site. Part of the work concerns the assessment and identification of trees in the Andersonville National Cemetery (a project started by GSW graduate Pamela “PJ” Wilson as her capstone research project).

While Harvey continues to work on identification of the trees to species, she is also working to survey the natural flora of prison site. Using as a tool for recording her observation, Harvey has logged 194 observations of 112 plant species across the site during the last 9 months. For identification of most plant species, reproductive structures such as flowers or fruits, are needed. Since plants bloom and fruit on different cycles, observations must be made throughout the year (and for multiple years) to fully describe the floral diversity of the site.

The images below are a selection of those obtained during the June 2022 field work. Many of the photographs Harvey takes are for use in her courses and for plant identification. Other are just for beauty of nature. For more images by her from Andersonville National Historic Site, visit her Flickr profile here.

asckepias tuberosa and asclepias humistrata

Student Recognitions

Canes Spotlights announced for June

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

The June Canes Spotlights were Michaela Reed and Ric Ware.

Michaela Reed

Michaela Reed

For recent English graduate Michaela Reed, GSW's welcoming atmosphere was a deciding factor in her college decision. "I chose GSW because it felt like an extension of home," Michaela said. "The University welcomed me with open arms during a time when I felt lost. Living on campus has allowed me to be close to my family and childhood friends, and the atmosphere is warm and welcoming in a way that has allowed me to expand my family forever."

After winning multiple writing awards, working in the GSW Writing Center, and interning with the Department of University Relations, Michaela will begin her MFA in Creative Writing at Georgia College and State University this fall.

During her time on campus, Michaela was also involved in SUAVE, the GSW Gospel Choir, the Baptist Collegiate Ministry (BCM), Sigma Tau Delta International English Honor Society, and Gamma Beta Phi Honor Society. She presented at at Georgia Gwinnett College Teaching, Learning, and Research Symposium during her senior year.

Ric WareRic Ware

Recent management graduate and current MBA student Ric Ware believes the opportunities available to students are what make GSW special. "I have been able to grow and develop my leadership and career since I have been here," Ric said.

He has put his leadership skills to use this year in his role as advisor for The Brotherhood, a new living and learning community that aims to support Black male students on campus.

"I am passionate about The Brotherhood because I recognize the importance of having representation on college campuses," Ric said. "I also like being part of an initiative that promotes self-discovery and helps create a sense of belonging in a community I belong to."

Ric has also been involved on campus as a Marshal, a Storm Spotter, a member of the Student Engagement Team, a Thunder Camp Cloud, and one of the first members of the President Jimmy Carter Leadership Program. He currently serves as a graduate assistant with GSW’s Office of Recreation and Wellness.

Canes Spotlights are nominated by GSW faculty and staff.

The boys of summer: GSW baseball players join summer league teams across the country

The GSW baseball team has nine returning players competing for summer league teams across the country starting this week. 

Hurricanes are playing games in seven states include:
  • Miles Hartsfield - Gainseville Gol'Diggers in Gainesville, Ga.
  • Carsen Plumadore - Full Count Rhythm in Hendersonville, Tenn.
  • Josh Newton - Dubois County Bombers in Huntingburg, Ind.
  • Juan Anderson - West Boca Snappers in Boca Raton, Fla.
  • Garrett Bradley - Palm Beach Marlins in West Palm Beach, Fla.
  • Aaron Wainright - Sanford River Rats in Sanford, Fla.
  • Grant Adams - Front Royal Cardinals in Front Royal, Va.
  • Matthew Mamatas and Jacob McClure - Harrisonburg Turks in Harrisonburg, Va.

Read more and find links to player stats here.

Map of players and their summer teams

Simon EstradaSimon Estrada receives All-America recognition

GSW men's golfer Simon Estrada has received 2022 NCAA Division II PING All-America distinction from the Golf Coaches Association of America.

Estrada earned an honorable mention for the second time in his career. The native of Armenia, Columbia, posted Top 15 finishes in five tournaments during the 2021-22 season. His best result came at the Motor City Preview in October at TPC Michigan where the sophomore placed second leading the Hurricanes to the tournament win.

Georgia Southwestern has earned 15 All-America selections since 2012. Estrada joins Vincent Norrman (2018-20), Saksit Jairak (2020, 2021) and Ethan Chamineak (2016, 2017) as Hurricane golfers to receive All-America recognition in multiple seasons.

Read more here.

Nineteen student-athletes named to PBC Teams of Academic Distinction

Nineteen student-athletes have been named to their respective 2021-2022 Peach Beth Conference Teams of Academic Distinction, presented by Barnes & Noble College. These teams are a part of the PBC's larger initiative to celebrate the academic achievements of PBC student-athletes and is modeled on the CoSIDA Academic All-America program.

To be eligible for the team, a student-athlete must 1) participate in at least half of his/her team's events and be either a starter or significant contributor; 2) achieved a 3.30 cumulative grade point average (on a 4.0 scale) and 3) completed at least one full academic year at his or her current institution and has reached sophomore athletic eligibility. The Peach Belt Conference Sports Information Directors oversee the program.

  • Jordan Whitening, Men's Basketball
  • Yasmin Perez, Women's Basketball
  • Jaquelyn Levay, Women's Basketball
  • Ashlyn Rogers, Softball
  • Hannah Holloway, Softball
  • Jacie Johns, Softball
  • Kimmy Singer, Softball
  • Morgan Mullin, Softball
  • Izzy Marcotte, Softball
  • Katelyn Wood, Softball
  • Matthew Mamatas, Baseball (x3)
  • Kyle Bachle, Baseball
  • Jared Donalson, Baseball (x4)
  • Colby Gordon, Baseball
  • Maya Boynton, Tennis
  • Hannah Hogg, Tennis (x3)
  • Nicolas Escobar, Golf
  • Chase McLain, Golf (x2)
  • Alex Wells, Golf

GSW Softball set a program record for most recipients, while a number of induvial student-athletes were named to the list for the second, third, or even fourth year.

Jared DonalsonJared Donalson named First Team All-American

The 2022 National College Baseball Writers Association and the CCA announced their Div. II All-America Teams on Thursday. Jared Donalson has become the first Hurricane to be named a first team All-American in the NCAA era. Donalson has now earned Peach Belt Conference Pitcher of the Year, first-team All-Conference, NCBWA Southeast Pitcher of the Year, NCBWA All-Region, ABCA Southeast All-Region first team, ABCA Southeast Region Pitcher of the Year and NCWBA and CCA first team All-American.

Donalson leaves GSW after the most decorated season in school history and the best team finish in the NCAA era. Donalson led the team to their first-round conference tournament series win over the University of North Georgia winning the first game of the series as the starter and then getting the final outs and earning the save in the series-clinching win just one day later. Donalson earned the third straight PBC Pitcher of the Year award for the Hurricanes after Tucker Smith won it in the 2019 and 2021 seasons. Donalson leaves GSW and moves on to Savannah, Ga. where he is currently a starting pitcher for the Savannah Bananas in the Coastal Plains League this summer.

Read more here.


Ervin AndersonAnderson presents at statewide AAMI conference

Senior Lecturer Emeritus and Executive Director of GSW's AAMI Program Ervin D. Anderson was invited to present at the 2022 University System of Georgia AAMI Directors Conference, which was held at Macon State University in Macon, Ga. from June 20-23, 2022.

Anderson's session on on “Recruitment, Retention, Student Activities, Engaging Alumni, and Building Community Partnerships” outlined the best practices used by the GSW AAMI Program to reach the program’s goals. The highlight of the session was the explanation of the Achieving the Dream Scholarship, which is given to members every spring based on points earned through every aspect of the program's goals. GSW is the only AAMI Program to offer scholarships.

Pictured from left to right are USG Associate Vice Chancellor of Strategic Academic Initiatives and Executive Director of USG AAMI Felita Williams, Ph.D., Anderson, and USG Director of AAMI Strategic Academic Initiatives Wanda Gross.

Moir presents paper on "The Picture of Dorian Gray"

Associate Professor of English Michael A. Moir, Jr., Ph.D., presented a paper entitled "Weird and Wilde: Horror, Hibernicism, and Hybridity in 'The Picture of Dorian Gray'" at the online annual meeting of the Canadian Association for Irish Studies on Wednesday, June 1, 2022.


Kaus contributes to article for the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Literature

Assistant Professor of English Alaina Kaus, Ph.D., contributed a peer-reviewed article on "Humanitarianism and Global Literature" to the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Literature. The article was published online on June 20, 2022. A summary of the article can be found here.

New Hires, Promotions, Retirements, & Farewells

Ashton SatterfieldAshton Satterfield joins Student Accounts
Ashton Chandler Satterfield recently joined the Office of Student Accounts as Student Accounts Coordinator on June 13, 2022. In this role, she will oversee the billing and collecting of student accounts, handle Canes ID cards, and support the everyday functions of Student Accounts.
Prior to joining GSW's staff, Ashton worked at Robert's Jewelers in Americus. She was responsible for providing a positive customer experience with fair, friendly, and courteous service.
Ashton is a long-time resident of Americus. She recently earned her bachelor's degree in business management at GSW in May 2022 and looks forward to continuing her journey at GSW.

New Hires

Elizabeth Lucas-Murillo joined the Department of English and Modern Languages as Administrative Assistant on June 13, 2022.

Christa Faison joined the Division of Student Engagement and Success as the Director of Residential and Campus Life on June 13, 2022.


Judy Cooper, Accounting Assistant in the Office of Accounting Services, retired on June 17, 2022.

Promotions and Title Changes

Michele Ragsdale was promoted to Assistant Professor and ASN Coordinator within the College of Nursing and Health Sciences on June 1, 2022.

Travis Crafter, previously the Coordinator of Student Rights and Resposibilities, was named Interim Assistant Director for Counseling Services on January 1, 2022.


Sid Walker, Multi-Cultural Admissions Counselor in the Office of Recruitment and Admissions, left that role on June 16, 2022.

T.J. Campbell, Assistant Director for Athletic Communication in the Department of Athletics, left that role on June 24, 2022.

Dashumon Robinson, Network Technician in the Office of Information and Instructional Technology, left that role on June 24, 2022.

Past Events

Chi Phi celebrates 25 years

GSW's Chi Phi chapter hosted its 25th anniversary on the weekend of June 3, 2022. Held at the Lake Blackshear Resort, the Delta Pi chapter celebrated 25 amazing years along side their founders as well as many other alumni. The weekend included a dinner at Cypress Grill, an Actives versus Alumni flag football game, several games of golf, and a banquet honoring the Delta Pi chapter and it's alumni. Chi Phi is very thankful for GSW and we look forward to many more years to come!

Chi Phi group

Upcoming Events

  • July 4: Independence Day (no classes)
  • July 12: Softball Summer Prospect Camp (13-18)
  • July 14: Storm Day
  • July 15: Storm Day
  • July 18: STEM Camp (K-8th grade)
  • July 19: Baseball Summer Youth Camp II (ages 5-14)
  • July 19: Littles Canes Softball Camp II (ages 5-14)
  • July 21: Storm Day
  • July 22: Campus Ramble for GSW alumni
  • July 28: Storm Day

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