President Venable announces retirement from Dalton State


Margaret H. Venable, Ph.D., who has served as the fifth president of Dalton State College since January 2015, has announced she will retire in the summer of 2023.

During her eight-year tenure as Dalton State’s first female president, Venable focused the college on providing broad access to high-quality education that transforms lives. Dalton State is ranked #23 nationally by Business Insider for Best Return on Investment and nearly two-thirds of graduates last fall completed their degrees without student loans.

“President Venable has spent more than 30 years making the university system better, and nowhere can you see that more than at Dalton State College,” University System of Georgia Chancellor Sonny Perdue said. “When she came to campus, her goal was for it to become a first-choice destination. Over her time there, that’s exactly what she has done. Dalton State is one of the top state colleges in the southeast and one of the most affordable in the nation. It has a profound impact across Northwest Georgia through its access mission and being a gateway to higher education and the regional workforce. Most importantly, students don’t feel like a number, and that has everything to do with President Venable’s leadership. We recently had a chance to experience this when Dalton State hosted the Board of Regents, and her impact was clear in our friendly interactions with students, faculty and staff. We are grateful for her service and wish her the best.”

Venable led the college through the pandemic and, despite continued declines in undergraduate enrollment nationally and in Georgia, Dalton State’s enrollment stabilized this fall with approximately 4,500 students. Also, there has been a continued increase in the number of graduates, especially with bachelor’s degrees.

Under Venable’s presidency in 2018, Dalton State received the designation of Georgia’s first Hispanic-Serving Institution, which allowed the college to receive and implement a $2.1 million federal Title V grant from the U.S. Department of Education. Although Dalton State does not have a grants office or full-time grant writing staff, the institution obtained several federal grants over the past five years totaling $10.5 million in funding for critical resources to support students.

Dalton State completed its second capital campaign in the college’s history last year, raising nearly $19 million in gifts and pledges against a goal of $16.5 million. Nearly $6.5 million of the funds raised were for need-based financial assistance for students.

The Dalton State main campus also transformed significantly under Venable’s leadership. Four campus buildings were renovated, including the Health Professions building; Pope Student Center; Gignilliat Hall, which also included an expansion to house the C. Lamar and Ann Wright School of Business; and Sequoya Hall. Additionally, the institution’s first residence hall, Mashburn Hall, was constructed; renovation began on the Bandy Gym to create a student recreation and wellness center; and the design phase of renovating classrooms in Lorberbaum Hall started.

Dalton State received multiple distinctions under Venable’s leadership, including national rankings for Contribution to Public Good and Top Public Regional Colleges in the South. Most recently, the college was ranked #10 by Academic Influence for Best Public College in Georgia.

The institution completed the SACSCOC decennial reaffirmation of accreditation last week. The official vote for reaffirmation of accreditation is expected to take place in June of 2023.

Venable served the community in multiple roles during her tenure as president including the Greater Dalton Chamber Board, Community Foundation of Northwest Georgia Board and Hispanic Association for Colleges and Universities (HACU) Executive Board.

Of all the accomplishments Dalton State achieved during her presidency, “I am most proud of our students and Dalton State alumni, along with the dedicated faculty and staff who serve alongside me,” Venable said.

Venable, who has 33 years of experience working in higher education, said she is transitioning to a new phase of her life and career. She hopes to continue working a few more years in the industry, possibly in consulting.