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Georgia Southwestern ceremony kicks off $3.4 million Academic Center for Excellence renovation

On Friday, December 13, Georgia Southwestern State University (GSW) held a ceremony to celebrate the beginning of renovations to the Academic Center for Excellence (ACE), GSW’s primary advisement building.

During the ceremony, GSW President Neal Weaver thanked the legislative delegation that worked diligently to secure $3.4 million for the renovations in Georgia’s Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19) budget. Two of those state legislators, Sen. Freddie Powell Sims and Rep. Mike Cheokas, were in attendance. Sen. Greg Kirk was unable to attend.

“This investment is significant - not only for the amount of money - but it’s significant that this is the first real investment the state has made in this campus in over 10 years,” noted Weaver. “This is an investment in Georgia Southwestern and in our region.”

Before taking the ceremonial first sledgehammer to the drywall, Sen. Sims noted the importance of GSW in the region and the importance of advocating for rural areas.

“We make noise in Atlanta,” said Sen. Sims. “We let people know that southwest Georgia may be rural, but we matter. We have important work to do, and I am proud to be involved in this institution.”

Rep. Cheokas also noted the meaningful impact GSW has on its rural communities and the challenges often faced when seeking funding. “GSW has around 3,000 students. The University System of Georgia has around 33,000 students. So we are about 1% of the state’s student body,” said Rep. Cheokas. “Our job [in the legislature] is to get more than 1% for our University.”

Originally constructed in 1962 as the University’s library and classroom building, the ACE Building has long been in need of aesthetic and practical upgrades. The renovation will include modernization of the HVAC system, a remodel of the interior to meet the current needs of students, and construction of two elevator shafts – one for the ACE Building and one for the adjacent English Building.

Once renovations are complete, the building will house a number of essential student services, such as financial aid and advising offices.

“The ACE Building will dramatically change the way we interact with and support our students, particularly as they begin their journey here at Georgia Southwestern,” said Weaver. “This renovation will allow us to house every support service that students need to be successful under one roof. Students will be able to get the help they need in a more coordinated, cooperative way that is not broken up by office title or building location.”

“This is another step in fostering student success at Georgia Southwestern,” Weaver noted.

On site to help kick-off the renovations with Weaver, Sims, and Cheokas, were Vice President for Student Engagement and Success Laura Boren, Vice President for Academic Affairs Suzanne Smith, and Vice President for Business and Finance Cody King.

The ACE Building renovation is one of three current capital improvement projects planned for campus, with the construction of the new Baseball and Softball Training Facility expected to be completed by 2020 and renovations to Florrie Chappell Gymnasium to begin later in 2020.

Pictured are (L to R) Cody King, Dr. Suzanne Smith, Rep. Mike Cheokas, Sen. Freddie Powell Sims, Dr. Neal Weaver, & Dr. Laura Boren