Wrights Recognized for ‘Changing Lives’ at Dalton State



Lamar and Ann Wright weren’t seeking recognition or publicity when the couple made a substantial gift to Dalton State College or by volunteering countless hours to help guide and mentor students.

But for those reasons, the Wrights received the University System of Georgia (USG) Foundation Regents’ Hall of Fame Alumni and Distinguished Friends Award at the annual Regents’ Scholarship Gala hosted by the USG Foundation recently. Mrs. Wright, who died last fall, was awarded posthumously.

Dalton State’s C. Lamar and Ann Wright School of Business now bears their name in honor of the contribution, which was matched by the state, to renovate Gignilliat Memorial Hall into a state-of-the-art home for the Wright School of Business.

“I very much appreciate this honor,” said Mr. Wright, a member of the college’s first graduating class in 1969. “But I want to express this isn’t about me. Fifty years ago Dalton State provided me with an opportunity that changed my life, and this opportunity opened doors and created other opportunities for me in the business world, and in all areas of my life. Today Dalton State is doing the same for its students, transforming their lives and teaching them how to be successful. Here they will learn skills and how to build relationships that will help them in their careers as well as in their personal lives. I have been blessed, and I am the one who is honored by the opportunity to help others.”

This award seeks to recognize distinguished alumni and friends for outstanding achievements in their personal lives, personal integrity and stature, as well as dedicated service to a University System of Georgia institution.

“The University System of Georgia Foundation is pleased to honor the generous life of Mr. Lamar Wright and the life of the late Mrs. Ann Wright for their extraordinary commitment to Dalton State, which has spanned more than five decades” said Karen McCauley, vice chancellor for development for the USG Foundation. “Their joint contributions will undoubtedly leave a lasting legacy on Mr. Wright’s alma mater, which will benefit generations of students to come. The Wrights quite simply embody all the characteristics we celebrate with this award.”

Mr. Wright understands Dalton State’s role within the Northwest Georgia community, and he understands the needs of students. He was a member of the first freshman class in 1967 at what was then Dalton Junior College. He says without that experience, he wouldn’t be able to give back to the school as he has. The educational foundation he received at Dalton Junior College led him to a bachelor’s degree from the University of Georgia and years as a successful businessman in the Dalton area.

“Lamar and Ann Wright are most deserving of this award,” said Dr. Marilyn Helms, dean of the Wright School of Business. “They are loyal supporters of Dalton State because they understand the value of higher education. Lamar credits Dalton State as changing his life. Like many of our first-generation students who work and attend classes, Lamar understood the struggle, and he continues to relate to our students.

“The Wrights believe a bright space, with the latest technology features, serves to improve student learning,” she said. “We continue to recognize the mentoring and guidance Ann provided our students. We continue to miss her energy and dedication to scholarship and student achievement. Students at Dalton State are embarking upon a journey that will transform their lives. Lamar and Ann Wrights’ support helps our business students grow intellectually and professionally as we challenge them to reach their full potential. To quote Lamar Wright, ‘We are changing lives at DSC.’”

Thanks to the Wrights’ gift, Gignilliat Memorial Hall was renovated and expanded by 15,729 square feet to include new classroom, lab and meeting space for students and faculty. The building now features a finance lab and a marketing lab, as well as collaborative spaces.

“Despite Lamar’s own success in business, Lamar and Ann present themselves with humility and they are consistently supportive and encouraging to our students as well as other youth throughout the community, asking young people where they attend school and what their plans are for college if they are not yet enrolled,” said Dr. Margaret Venable, president of Dalton State. “Lamar and Ann are not motivated by public recognition. In fact, they initially asked that their gift remain anonymous. Rather, they were motivated by a sense of loyalty to Lamar’s alma mater and a desire to impact the lives of our students and our region. In agreeing to publicize their gift, the Wrights’ desire was for their gift to inspire others to support Dalton State.”

“This deeply deserved recognition by the University System of Georgia Foundation and the USG Board of Regents now brings statewide attention to something we’ve known all along,” said David Elrod, director of the Dalton State Foundation. “Lamar’s and Ann’s examples of philanthropic leadership in higher education in our part of Georgia are unparalleled. Their professional examples of dedication to their careers and building businesses, and their personal examples of commitment to family, faith and community, should inspire us all to ask what we can do for places and causes we care about. Lamar is one of us because of his connection as an alumnus of Dalton State; Ann belongs to us in our hearts.”