Lazy Summer

When I am asked during the summer if I am getting some rest, I chuckle. While it is true the campus looks quieter in the summer months, we have a lot going on this time of year.

Fewer students choose to take fewer classes over the summer and typically the classes are shorter than a normal semester. Nevertheless, most everyone is busy for one reason or another.

For many of us, the summer is the time we catch up on those tasks and chores we postponed during the fall and spring semesters. I force myself to complete annual employee performance evaluations, for example. It’s not my favorite task, but of course it is important to ensure our employees have regular feedback on their work. Especially after this most challenging year, I must take the opportunity to acknowledge the hard work of our employees.

Meanwhile, we are still recruiting new students to attend Dalton State this fall. We hope prospective students will submit their FAFSA and Dalton State application by July 1 to help ensure any federal financial aid will be ready for them in time for fall’s tuition payment deadline. We anticipate working with students throughout the summer to complete their admissions and financial aid paperwork and enroll in classes. During the summer we conduct new student orientations to help students transition from high school to Dalton State and get off to a good start in college. We are also still advising and registering returning students for fall classes. When students register early, they have the greatest selection of classes. Regardless, even in the late summer we do our best to accommodate the needs of our students.

Every summer brings its own unique opportunities and this one is no exception. Our Roberts Library experienced an unfortunate flood this past winter and the building was offline for several months during the restoration process. We have finally reopened the building with fresh new paint and carpet and will continue moving employees in and restoring furnishings over the summer. Please consider visiting our refreshed and reopened Roberts Library, named for the second president of Dalton State, Dr. Derrell Roberts. It is a beautiful and peaceful setting and a favorite study spot for many of our students.

Speaking of construction projects, we are still celebrating the funding received through the support of the Georgia General Assembly and local state delegation to renovate the Bandy Gym as a true recreation center for our students. The renovation construction will begin this summer. Bandy Gym is one of our original buildings on campus, constructed when we served approximately 500 students. Today, we serve nearly 5,000 students including those living on campus. Even our non-residential students need a place to engage in healthy activities. The current facility is much too small for the students we serve today. Although the renovation will not increase the footprint of the building, it will add a mezzanine level to increase the usable square footage, which will allow us to expand the fitness area and add true physical education classroom space.

This summer, we launch a project funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) as part of their Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program. The program is focused on recruiting, preparing and retaining teachers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). We will serve Dalton State students and address the critical need for highly qualified, certified STEM teachers. This project involves multiple partnerships including Dalton State’s School of Arts & Sciences and School of Education, Whitfield County Schools, Dalton Public Schools, Shaw Industries and Mohawk Industries. Several Dalton State students will receive scholarships this summer funded by the NSF and begin their journey as Noyce Scholars.

We also recently announced Dr. John Lugthart as the first Shaw Industries Chair in STEM at Dalton State. Dr. Lugthart, described by many as a “pillar of Northwest Georgia,” has spent his career educating biology students at Dalton State and simultaneously leading conservation efforts in our community in a variety of settings. We have Dr. Lugthart to thank for the creation and maintenance of the hiking trails on Dalton State’s campus. He is also a key leader in the restoration work at Lakeshore Park. In his spare time, he leads the annual Conasauga Watershed Cleanup event as well as numerous summer camps for youth at Dalton State.

Before the summer is over, I hope each student and employee at Dalton State will find some time for rest and renewal. We always need that opportunity to recharge our batteries, but we need it more than ever this year. I look forward to the fall 2021 semester with fresh enthusiasm and ideas. But first, I must finish those employee evaluations.