Dalton State Heroes

When we think of heroes, many of us picture a firefighter or maybe a movie or comic book character in a bold costume flying through a city. But heroes are all around us. I encounter them every day. Across the Dalton State College campus, we have many heroes serving our students.

Dalton State is a very lean organization, so while our heroes don’t wear capes, many of them wear multiple hats, pitching in wherever and whenever needed. Why do so many of our faculty and staff stay here for decades? I think it is because they believe in Dalton State’s mission of serving our diverse population of students from Northwest Georgia and beyond by providing challenging academics and rich collegiate experiences. Dalton State employees believe in the transformational experience of a high-quality college education.

Over the years I have served as the president of Dalton State, we have lost several employees and retirees. We lost two key faculty members last year; we lost two heroes.

Dr. Richard Collison served as associate professor of chemistry and chair of the Department of Physical Sciences when he retired from Dalton State in July 2021. Nevertheless, he planned to continue teaching for us part time, not for the meager paycheck, but because he loved our students.

When Richard passed away soon after his retirement, there was an outcry from his former students who wanted to find a way to express how much they appreciated him and to help memorialize his service at Dalton State. The Richard Collison Scholarship in Chemistry endowed fund was created through the Dalton State Foundation.

David Elrod, director of the Dalton State Foundation, said, “Richard’s legacy at Dalton State will live through the hundreds of lives he touched and through this scholarship that will assist students majoring in his favorite subject.” Austin Poll, a rising sophomore at Dalton State, received the Collison Scholarship this past spring.

Richard will continue to impact students at Dalton State and will do so for generations to come. An endowed scholarship is a perpetual fund to support our students. I can’t imagine anything that would have better honored this hero’s life and legacy.

Carolina Hammontree, a lecturer of management in Dalton State’s C. Lamar and Ann Wright School of Business, passed away suddenly last fall at a young age during a meeting on campus.

During her few years at Dalton State, she touched the lives of so many students in such meaningful ways that there was immediately a request for an on-campus service. Dalton State does not normally host memorial services for employees, but this was a special situation. Our students and employees needed an opportunity to process and grieve this unexpected tragedy.

I listened to her former students describe what a powerful impression she left on each of them. Our students felt truly seen and heard by her. She was their unofficial mentor, their cheerleader, their surrogate mother and the one person they knew for certain believed in them.

Carolina’s students and colleagues immediately asked about creating a scholarship to honor her. With the support of our foundation, an endowed scholarship was created in her name, the Carolina Duarte Hammontree Memorial Scholarship in Business. It was awarded this spring to Ivy Gong, a non-traditional adult student majoring in logistics and supply chain management in the Wright School of Business.

Ivy said she had never known Professor Hammontree, but she was humbled and grateful for the scholarship established for non-traditional students like Professor Hammontree.

Carolina was completing her doctoral research at the time of her passing. Carolina gave freely of her time to Dalton State despite her own obligations as a mother, wife and graduate student.

These are but two examples of the dedication Dalton State employees have to our students. As we begin a new academic year, I am eager to welcome our many heroes back to campus for a new semester.

I see heroes wherever I look, in our classrooms, offices and walking the halls. It gives me hope for our future, especially when I see their impact on our committed and hard-working students. Serving our students is why each of us is at Dalton State. We serve boldly.