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Georgia Southwestern reflects on accomplishments as Weaver celebrates 5-year anniversary as president

AMERICUS, GA (July 15, 2022) – Five years ago, Georgia Southwestern State University officially welcomed Neal Weaver, Ph.D., as its 11th president on July 15, 2017 in his first presidential role. Under Weaver’s leadership, GSW has seen the highest enrollment in University history, implemented four new academic programs, improved retention and graduation rates, completed four construction projects with one underway, and increased annual giving.

Weaver was selected by then University System of Georgia (USG) Chancellor Steve Wrigley to lead Georgia Southwestern replacing Charles Patterson, Ph.D., who served as GSW’s interim president for over two years. Weaver served as vice president for University Advancement and Innovation at Nicholls State University for nearly three years and vice president for Institutional Advancement at West Texas A&M University for over six years.

“It’s hard to believe it’s already been five years,” said Weaver. “I have had the distinct pleasure of getting to know and work with amazing faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends of the University who all help make GSW special. We have been able to make remarkable progress because of them and GSW’s outstanding executive leadership team.”

Over the past five years, President Weaver has led the University’s efforts to grow enrollment, increase retention, improve student success, cultivate alumni and community involvement, realign campus infrastructure, modernize student engagement, develop new academic programs desired by employers, increase annual giving, and launch GSW’s first comprehensive branding campaign. Weaver credits this success to developing positive relationships with faculty and staff leaders, engaging with students, strengthening GSW’s connection with the USG Board of Regents, and energizing the local board of trustees.

Weaver’s background in fundraising, enrollment management and organizational leadership paved the way for his presidency at GSW. As evidenced by the University’s accomplishments in the six areas below, GSW is thriving under Weaver’s leadership and guidance. 

Enrollment:

  • GSW has seen record-breaking enrollment growth over the last five years with a 9 percent increase.
  • In Fall 2020, GSW recorded the highest enrollment in school history at 3,162 students.
  • Similarly, in Summer 2021, GSW saw another notable increase with 1,968 students, up 10.3 percent from the previous year.

Academics:

Fundraising:

  • GSW nearly doubled contributions received and has more donors than ever before.
  • From GSW’s first Day of Giving in 2019 ($19,000) to its latest in 2021 ($100,000), the University’s donations increased by over 400 percent.
  • The Baseball and Softball Locker Campaigns raised funds for state-of-the-art locker rooms thanks to increased donor outreach, corporate partners, fundraising events and support of the GSW Foundation.

Athletics:

  • GSW Athletics has seen a significant increase in privately-raised funds thanks to success with the Canes 360 program and record-setting turnouts for signature fundraising events such as the President’s Golf Classic and Hail Storm.
  • Nearly every sport is now competing for national and region championships. GSW Men’s Golf team made two consecutive appearances in the NCAA DII National Championship. In 2021, they were just one stroke from being national champions.
    • GSW Baseball had a record-setting 2022 finish with the most PBC wins in a season, best team finish in the NCAA era of third place in conference, four All-Conference selections, and the third season in a row to have a player named PBC Pitcher of the Year.
    • GSW Softball ended their 2022 season making program history as the first team to reach 30+ wins, the most All-Conference selections, and the first PBC Player of the Year. The Lady Canes also made it to the PBC Tournament this past year.
    • The GSW Men’s (2021) and Women’s Basketball (2022) teams advanced to the NCAA Tournament, and the women won its first game ever in the national tournament
  • GSW student-athletes ranked #1 in the 2021-2022 NCAA Helper Helper Challenge for their community service totaling 6,220 hours.
  • GSW student-athletes recorded an impressive 3.0 or higher cumulative GPA for the 16th straight semester.

Capital Projects:

  • Since 2017, President Weaver has led the effort to secure more than $20 million for campus facilities and infrastructure improvements.
    • $3.4 million renovation of Canes Central
    • $3.5 million renovation of Florrie Chappell Gymnasium
    • $4 million upcoming renovation of the Griffin Bell Golf and Conference Center
    • $1.2 million construction of Baseball and Softball Indoor Training Facility
    • Addition of new network solutions in residence halls and technology upgrades in campus classrooms

Partnerships:

  • Continued and strengthened partnerships with Phoebe Putney Health System and Magnolia Manor through mutual support have been instrumental in helping GSW get the ASN program back off the ground.
  • GSW’s partnership with Zhoukou Normal University (ZKNU) in Henan Province, China enrolls over 100 Chinese computer science students into a joint program each year.
  • GSW maintains a number of articulation agreements with technical colleges across the state to ensure smooth transitions from their associate degree programs into GSW.
  • Additionally, GSW has an agreement with PCOM Georgia assuring GSW students interested in obtaining a Doctor of Pharmacy degree early entrance into the PCOM School of Pharmacy, allowing them earn their degree a year early.

Weaver reflected on his last five years as GSW’s president on his “What’s in the Cup?” podcast. “It’s been a successful few years,” he said, “and I am proud of the direction GSW is moving towards.”

Listen to the full podcast episode on GSW’s Spotify account.