Gearing Up For All At Dalton State

It seems like we were just lighting up our grills and watching fireworks in the night sky with our loved ones. But now the stores are filled with back-to-school sections, and we’re in overdrive preparing for a new academic year.

Fall semester begins in early August for Dalton State, as well as many of the area’s public schools. And I know we’re looking forward to coming back fully and safely after a year of carefully balancing the safety and educational needs of our community.

Classes begin here Aug. 9, and it will be the first time since March 2020 we will be fully open.

We will always maintain a commitment to operating safely. The health and wellbeing of our Roadrunner family is a top priority. But with the widespread availability of a COVID-19 vaccine, we will resume a much more normal campus environment this fall.

I am extremely excited to be welcoming back all our students and employees, as well as our new incoming students.

I have missed seeing a bustling campus. I’ve missed face-to-face conversations, both formal and informal. I have missed developing those relationships that sustain us all, especially our students.

This summer has already had a different feel because we’ve been able to welcome our new students on campus for orientation instead of hosting it virtually. Our students need to meet their peers face-to-face and make connections before they even step foot into their first class.

We’re busy finalizing financial aid and admissions applications, registering students for fall classes, preparing new activities and services for our students and more. We will maintain several virtual options for activities and services as well because we learned how important these alternatives are for some.

I’m also excited to welcome our employees back more fully. Many of our staff have worked part of their hours remotely to ensure appropriate distancing and to minimize the risk of having to quarantine an entire office function at one time. This month, we welcomed our staff back to campus on a full-time basis. Many of our faculty have been on campus throughout the pandemic, but some taught classes virtually. Next month, all our faculty will also resume full-time daily campus schedules.

It is important for us to return fully face-to-face because it enriches the student experience.

I know for those of us at Dalton State in particular, we committed to our careers because we believe in the transformative power of higher education and because we have felt that power in our own lives. Being fully open means we can deliver the richest experience for the greatest number of students. 

Over the decades I have spent in public higher education, I have seen countless students transformed by education. I have watched students enter college struggling to master certain key subjects or lacking the self-confidence to share their thoughts or ask questions in the classroom. Many of our students are not certain they are cut out for college.

Watching students blossom into mature adults who recognize their own strengths and who have overcome their challenges is one of the greatest blessings for this educator. I wish I knew where every former student is today, but I do follow many. They have developed into fine people, contributing to their communities just as we would have hoped. These graduates work in a variety of career fields and are achieving successes there. I celebrate with them when I learn of their accomplishments.

But I am most proud of their successes as human beings, as global citizens who contribute to their local communities. This is why the employees of Dalton State are eager to return to campus. We are ready to help students achieve their goals.

There is nothing more energizing than being on a college campus in the fall with everyone coming together, greeting friends they have not seen over the summer and meeting new friends. Last fall was not really that kind of atmosphere, so I am happier than ever to anticipate this fall’s frenzy of activity.

What concerns do I have? Parking. I’ve never known a college student – no matter the campus – who did not complain about parking…. It’s an issue we have not had for the past year and a half. But it’s a problem I’m looking forward to this year because it means we’re all together again.