Long-time supporter and friend Sidney Morris and his wife Sharon were honored at a special Renaming Ceremony of Lowndes Hall to the Sidney and Sharon Morris Hall on the Valdosta Campus of Wiregrass along with a Topping Off Ceremony for the new Health Sciences Building. Thanks to a generous donation to the college by the Morris’, the college honored them with the renaming of Lowndes Hall. The building houses the President’s Suite and administrative offices, Business and Computer Information Systems programs, Printing and Graphics lab, Esthetics classroom and lab, Neuromuscular classroom and lab, Early Childhood classroom, and the library.
Sidney Morris was a founding member of the Valdosta Technical Institute Foundation in 1988 and continues to serve as a Wiregrass Foundation South Trustee. He has served Wiregrass students for over thirty years. In 2018, the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) recognized Mr. Morris as the TCSG Volunteer of the Year. The Foundation supports students by providing scholarships, textbook assistance for students, support for GOAL (Georgia Occupational Award of Leadership award) nominees and finalist, equipment and supplies for programs, and program expansions.
The ceremony was held indoors due to the weather with guests adhering to COVID guidelines. Wiregrass President Dr. Tina K. Anderson welcomed everyone including state legislatures, local dignitaries, and long-term supporters of the college including Dr. Ed and Rhonda Mark, whom the new Health Sciences Building will be named after. Other speakers included; Stacy Bush (Wiregrass Foundation Chairman), a special benediction by Rabbi Mosha Elbaz (Temple Israel of Valdosta), Tim Golden (Georgia Department of Transportation Chairman), Ben Copeland (TCSG Board Member), and Commissioner Greg Dozier (TCSG).
Sidney Morris shared, “In the 32 years I’ve served on the Foundation, I’ve seen this technical college change a lot of people’s lives and we take great pride in seeing Wiregrass graduates throughout our community. As a member of the Foundation board I’ve asked more than a few friends for favors for Wiregrass and I asked a huge donation of my friends Dr. Ed and Rhonda Mark, and they willingly responded which guided Sharon and me to donate to Wiregrass. We put our money where our mouth is.” Morris commented that he and Sharon look forward to being neighbors with the Marks’ for many years to come, as the new Health Sciences Building is being built next to Sidney and Sharon Morris Hall.
Dr. Anderson added, “Wiregrass appreciates Sidney and Sharon Morris for what they mean to our college and community. They require us to imagine bigger and to think better, and to embrace the ‘what ifs’.”
Due to the event being held indoors, a portrait of the building with the new signage was presented to Sidney and Sharon Morris. Prior to entering the building, guests were able to sign the beam for the topping off ceremony for the new Health Sciences Building. The beam was on display prior to the ceremony for college students and employees to sign along with members of the health care field and graduates.
Dr. Anderson provided an update on the new Health Sciences building. It is slated to open Spring of 2022. The high-tech building will have 96,100 gross square feet and provide much needed up-to-date classroom and lab space for the college. Programs that will be housed in the new building include; Associate Degree in Nursing, Nursing Technician, Biology Lab, Chemistry Lab, Dental Assisting, Dental Office Assistant, EMS Professions, Medical Assisting, Neuromuscular Therapy, Opticianary, Paramedicine, Patient Care Assisting, Pharmacy Technology, Phlebotomy, Advanced Patient Care Assistant, Radiologic Technology, and Surgical Technology. Valdosta serves as the regional medical center for South Georgia with more than 79 healthcare entities including hospitals, home health agencies, nursing, and assisted living facilities in the area. More than 650 physicians’ offices are located within the region employing thousands of medical personnel. Many of these facilities have a constant shortage of qualified healthcare personnel. Employee turnover due to job changes, promotions, retirement, relocation, or termination causes a shortage in every area of the healthcare sector.
Dr. Anderson thanked Dr. Ed and Rhonda Mark for their generous donation and the college will officially name the building the Edward and Rhonda Mark Health Sciences Building at the grand opening. She also thanked South Georgia Medical Center for their support of the college’s health sciences programs and for helping with a generous donation in support of the college’s new LPN to RN Bridge program that is housed on the Valdosta Campus. Their donation will provide superior equipment in the new building for many years to come.