Dalton State Gilmer Campus Celebrates 10 Years


Bella Swing loves how student-centric the Gilmer Campus of Dalton State College is.

“It’s very tailored for the students,” said Swing, a dual enrollment student at the Gilmer Campus. “The professors are nice, and I’ve yet to have one that won’t stay behind to help you when you need it. Ms. Tracey May, site coordinator, is great, and is a huge resource for me, especially as a dual enrollment student.”

The Gilmer Campus, in downtown Ellijay, celebrated 10 years on Monday with a short program and refreshments. In addition to Dalton State administration, staff, and faculty, many community members and leaders attended to show their support to the campus.

“Proverbs tells us, where there is no vision people perish,” said Kent Sanford, executive director of the Joint Development Authority. “Gilmer County is not about to perish. We are a thriving community, and that is because of contributions of places like Dalton State.”

Approximately 12 years ago, when the library was moving out of its downtown building and into a new location, leaders feared there would be a void left downtown, said Sanford, who served on the library board at the time. To fill the space, community leaders approached Dalton State and the Board of Regents about opening a campus in the town square in Ellijay. SPLOST funds were used to renovate the former library building, which was then leased to Dalton State.

“Since that time, Dalton State has been one of our key players in workforce development for our community,” Sanford said. “We appreciate the continued commitment to Gilmer County over the years. We’ve been blessed.”

Students at the Dalton State Gilmer Campus can complete all their core classes for a bachelor’s degree program. They can earn an associate of arts or an associate of science without needing to go to the main campus.

For many students in the community, having this resource so close to home gives them a chance at higher education they wouldn’t otherwise have. Until the Gilmer Campus opened, there wasn’t a public college within an hour’s drive of Gilmer County.

“It has helped me being close to home,” said Ty Reece, a freshman aspiring to be a history teacher. “What has helped me the most is that tuition isn’t as expensive here as it is elsewhere. And I don’t have to pay room and board since the campus is 10 minutes from the house. It can’t get any better than that. It has been a huge blessing having this college right here in Ellijay.”

Reece also pointed to May as a reason for his success in transitioning from high school to college life.

May has worked at the Gilmer Campus for 10 years. First as an administrative assistant and then as the site coordinator. She serves many roles, from class advisement to assisting students filling out financial aid documents.

“I want to take a moment to express my appreciation for the many who made this day possible,” May said during the ceremony. “Thank you to everyone who had a part in getting the Gilmer Campus started 10 years ago and for those of you who have given us ongoing support. I’m grateful for the administration of Dalton State, who believe providing a high quality, low cost education to North Georgia is important. They show that through their support of the Gilmer Campus.

“Without students, we would have no reason to be here,” she said. “You make each day a pleasure for me to come to work.”

“I want to thank all our partners, the school systems here, and the Joint Development Authority, as well as the whole city and county that have been very supportive,” said Dr. Margaret Venable, president of Dalton State. “We want to make sure students can get a quality college credential and be thriving citizens in this area.”