South Georgia State College celebrated the next chapter in the life of the 112-year-old institution September 17-21, 2018, with a week-long inauguration celebration, culminating with the installation of Dr. Ingrid Thompson-Sellers as the eighth president of the college.
Inauguration Week festivities kicked off on the Douglas and Waycross Campuses with a “Good Morning SGSC!” breakfast for students, faculty and staff, followed by an international “Taste of Culture” food-fest sponsored by the Cultural Exchange Club at both locations. The live band karaoke event in Douglas and zip lining in Waycross were popular and fun activities for students, faculty, and staff alike.
More than 275 people packed Peterson Hall’s McGouirk Auditorium on September 21 for the Investiture Ceremony, heralded by an academic procession of college delegates and SGSC’s faculty, adorned in colorful regalia. Student and alumni representatives participated in the academic procession led by Dr. Molly Smith, professor of biology, and Ms. Sara Selby, professor of English and academic affairs project specialist, serving as mace bearers.
A prelude of musical selections by Ms. Tania Myers, followed by Mr. Steve Myers and a brass ensemble, opened the program. The Myers represent Coffee High School’s Fine Arts department. The combined Coffee High School/SGSC Chorus performed the National Anthem, and the Coffee High School Naval Junior ROTC Color Guard presented the colors.
Grand Marshall Dr. Robert Page, vice president for academic and student affairs, welcomed Atlanta-based Reverend Toni Belin Ingram from Greater Turner Chapel AME to provide the invocation. Mr. James M. Hull, University System of Georgia Board of Regents chairman; The Honorable Tyler Harper, Georgia State Senator, District 7; Mr. John Knox, Mayor of Waycross; Ms. Lisa Hodge, executive vice president of the Douglas/Coffee County Chamber of Commerce; Dr. Anissa Lokey Vega, Ph.D. graduate studies colleague and Mr. Michael Thompson, Dr. Thompson-Sellers’ brother, brought greetings.
After a musical interlude by Douglas native John Glosson, accompanied on piano by Jay Beverly, greetings continued from college representatives including Mr. Chris Tuten, past president, SGSC Foundation; Mr. Frank Pridemore, chairperson, SGSC Faculty Assembly; Ms. LaToya Curtis, chairperson, SGSC Staff Council; Ms. Tammy Flowers, president, Waycross Student Government Association and Mr. Shane Shook, alumnus.
University System of Georgia Chancellor Dr. Steve Wrigley provided the official presidential charge, presenting Dr. Thompson-Sellers with the college medallion.
Expressing her appreciation to many who made the trip from as far away as Jamaica and Canada, Dr. Thompson-Sellers applauded faculty, staff, students, trustees, elected officials and community partners for their dedication to the institution and for their ongoing support. She focused her presidential address on the themes of college access and affordability, growing academic support services for students and enhancing community partnerships. “I have seen firsthand how education has influenced every aspect of my life, and I want to see that cycle continue for our region,” she said.
Dr. Thompson-Sellers shared several inspiring stories about individuals whose efforts continue to make an indelible mark on the lives of students; Ms. Sandra Adams, SGSC residence life and housing coordinator, recently initiated a scholarship endowment to expand students’ experiences abroad; Ms. Joanne Lewis, who assists families in overcoming substance abuse at Still Water Outreach, created a scholarship to help these individuals return to college; Ms. Tammy Flowers, a mom and non-traditional student, still finds time to mentor others as she completes her nursing degree.
According to Dr. Thompson-Sellers, South Georgia State College has deep roots in this community and region. “The students who attend SGSC are our lifeblood, and what we do makes the college a viable, attractive and utterly irreplaceable option for them. I am humbled and honored to chart the future for this great institution,” she said. Dr. Thompson-Sellers ended her address by sharing ways education can change a life and the need for each of us to give back. “Ms. Sandra Adams heard this call. Ms. Joanne Lewis heard this call. Ms. Tammy Flowers heard this call. It is now our turn to answer the call, and I have complete faith that THIS community will do just that,” she concluded.
The Investiture Ceremony ended by singing the college Alma Mater before the benediction, given by Dr. Carl McDonald, vice president for academic affairs, emeritus, retrieval of the colors and a reception at the South Georgia State College Alumni House.
To showcase SGSC’s fall athletic teams, the Hawks held a basketball scrimmage, and the Lady Hawks soccer team celebrated with a tailgate before their game on Friday afternoon.
As a way to give back to the communities served by SGSC, several outreach activities were performed by faculty, staff and students during Inauguration Week. These included serving as a Den Leader for Webelos Cub Scout Den Pack 227, volunteering with the Hope Center Afterschool Program and donating eight new backpacks to the Hope Center, hosting a school supply drive to help children in Valdosta and Americus at SGSC’s entry program sites, volunteering at a church as a teacher and audiovisual technician, reading to children at the Hazzard Hill Early Head Start Program, collecting 30 books for the Kiwanis Club’s Books for Inmates Project and collecting luggage/bags from both campuses for the Kiwanis Club of Waycross project serving children going into foster care.
South Georgia State College would like to express its appreciation to the SGSC Foundation, the James M. Dye Foundation, Aladdin Food Management Services, Coffee High Naval Junior ROTC Color Guard, Creative Printing, Standard Press, the Inauguration planning committee and South Georgia State College student ambassadors and volunteers for their instrumental support in helping make the event a success.
To view a video of the Investiture Ceremony and pictures from the Inauguration festivities, please visit www.sgsc.edu/inauguration.
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