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Photo of Suzanne SmithGSW selects Suzanne Smith as new provost and vice president for Academic Affairs

GSW has named Suzanne R. Smith, Ph. D., as its new provost and vice president for Academic Affairs (VPAA), effective July 1, 2018, concluding a nationwide search.

Smith comes to GSW from Washington State University Vancouver (WSUV) where she has been employed for over 20 years. For the past 12 years, she has served in leadership roles including her current position as director of academic planning and special assistant to the vice chancellor.

“I am honored to be joining the team at GSW and look forward to becoming a part of the campus and local community,” said Smith. “I'm excited to have the opportunity to work with such wonderful people, on a beautiful campus that has limitless potential in the years to come. I know that together we will achieve great things.”

As the new provost and VPAA, Smith will be responsible for the instructional program of the university and the daily administration of academic affairs for both faculty and students. She will serve as the chief academic officer for the university, reporting to GSW President Neal Weaver. Working closely with the president and an extensive group of campus colleagues, she will guide strategic planning and policy development as well as promote campus-wide academic initiatives.

“We look forward to having Suzanne join us,” said Weaver. “She brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in academic leadership to the table. Her energy and enthusiasm for student success is fundamental to the university. We are excited to see fresh ideas in how to bring GSW’s campus and the community together.”

Having grown up in the Atlanta area, Smith is no stranger to Georgia. She received her Ph.D. in child and family development from the University of Georgia in 1996. Prior to this, she earned her Bachelor of Arts in behavioral science at Erskine College and her Master of Science in family and child development at Virginia Polytechnic Institute. In 2015, she completed the Management Development Program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Smith has over 25 years of experience teaching sociology and human development at the university level. She began her career in higher education as a graduate assistant at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and currently teaches as an associate professor in WSUV’s Department of Human Development.

She has received multiple awards for excellence in teaching and has written numerous journal articles and books, including her latest textbook, Exploring Family Theories (4th Ed), published in 2017.Smith has been active in the National Council on Family Relations, the Family Science Association, and the Northwest Council on Family Relations throughout her career.

Smith and her husband, Brett, have two grown children.

Photo of Jaha DukurehGSW alumna Jaha Dukureh nominated for prestigious Nobel Peace Prize of 2018

Jaha Dukureh, a Georgia Southwestern State University (GSW) alumna, has been nominated for the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize for her work towards ending female genital mutilation (FGM) and child marriage in her home country of The Gambia in West Africa and across the world.

Born in a small Gambian village in 1989, Dukureh was a victim of FGM at just one week old. Her arranged marriage to an unknown older man at age 15 brought her to New York City. After two months, Dukureh was able to leave her husband and continue her education in the U.S., where she became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2015.

Dukureh was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Norwegian parliament member Jette Christensen. “ I nominated Jaha because she is living proof that the belief of a single person can cause them to change the world,” said Christensen. “I introduced Jaha as a hero who has done the impossible. Several times. 200 million women suffer every day from the injuries of FGM. If peace is the absence of violence, we won't get it until this is stopped. And if there's someone who can fix it, is it Jaha Dukureh.” (sources: Facebook, Jaha’s PromiseAfrican Leadership Magazine)

There are 329 candidates for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, the second highest number of candidates ever. It is awarded to “the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses,” according to founder Alfred Nobel’s will. Only 16 women have been awarded the prize since it was introduced in 1901.

“My whole country is celebrating with me,” said Dukureh on her nomination. “This has brought the global FGM movement to the forefront of the conversation. This is not a win for me, but a challenge and an opportunity. An opportunity to get the world to listen and take action. Ending FGM is not a one person journey.” (source: Facebook, Jaha Gambia Dukureh)

Dukureh earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration and management online at GSW in 2013. “We are so proud of Jaha,” said GSW School of Business Dean Elizabeth Wilson, Ph.D. “Even while completing her degree online from her Atlanta home, she was leading the fight against FGM and successfully changing laws. We are proud to have played a small part in this amazing woman's journey and wish her well as she continues to make a difference in the world!”

Remarkably, Dukureh is not the first GSW alumna to be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. President Jimmy Carter won the esteemed award in 2002, donating a huge sum of his winnings to the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving, a unit of GSW.

The same year Dukureh graduated from GSW, she founded the non-profit organization Safe Hands for Girls, which provides support for survivors of FGM and advocates for an end to FGM practices. She was then part of the movement that successfully banned FGM in The Gambia in 2015, a journey chronicled in the 2017 documentary “Jaha’s Promise.”

By age 25, Dukureh’s activism earned her a place on Time Magazine’s 2016 list of 100 Most Influential People in the World and on New African Magazine’s 2017 list of 100 Most Influential Africans. She won the Humanitarian of the Year award at the African Diaspora Awards in 2017 and just last month, was named the first Regional Goodwill Ambassador for Africa by UN Women. Her appointment coincided with the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation.

Dukureh lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and three children. She is continuing her work to end FGM, drawing inspiration from her own journey and the need to protect her daughter and the millions of other young women at risk.


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