30 Days of Gratitude

Another semester is winding down to a close at Dalton State. Our students are finalizing projects and preparing for finals. Some are preparing to don the Dalton State blue cap and gown, walk across the stage to shake my hand and receive the diploma they have worked so hard for.

As I reflect on this, I cannot help but be thankful for this community and Dalton State’s role in it – filling needs for our students, for the community and for local industry and businesses. It is the season of thankfulness, after all.

Many of us are turning inward and reflecting on our many blessings. Soon we’ll come together and share with those we love.

So, in no particular order, here are 30 reasons – one for every day of November – I am thankful to be Dalton State’s president:

  1. We were recently named one of the best undergraduate teaching institutions in the South by U.S. News and World Report. Our dedicated faculty and staff make sure our students receive a quality education.
  2. Our faculty and staff work one-on-one with students in a caring, encouraging atmosphere to help them achieve their professional, and often personal, goals.
  3. Our campus is expanding and receiving a face lift. We have had on-going renovation and construction projects for the last several years: Health Professions, Pope Student Center, Mashburn Hall, Roberts Library and our most recent project, Gignilliat Memorial Hall. Currently Sequoya Hall and a new patio outside Pope are under construction, and we are working on the design for the renovation of our Bandy Gym.
  4. Our students receive a well-rounded, rigorous education that prepares them for life after graduation.
  5. Our hiking trails across the ridge are a beautiful, quick escape for the community, especially right now with all the gold and red leaves of fall. We even have another trail being added.
  6. We recently received a $2.16 million Title V grant to help ensure student success.
  7. I hear often how much local employers love hiring our graduates because they know they’re receiving a quality, knowledgeable, prepared employee.
  8. The Turtle Assurance Colony gives our students a unique experience at handling and caring for endangered turtles. Many of our students and graduates have landed coveted internships and jobs at the Tennessee Aquarium because of this experience.
  9. Our student teacher candidates spend more than 1,000 hours in classroom settings learning hands-on how to be educators before they graduate.
  10. Our Health Professions program provides students with the opportunity to experience real-life situations in our simulation lab before working directly with patients.
  11. Roadrunners love to serve our community. From our student organization SAVE to our social work majors to our basketball players and more, Roadrunners pitch in and volunteer in our community.
  12. We are continually working to expand our degrees to meet workforce needs. We recently added an engineering technology degree and before that an environmental and sustainability studies degree.
  13. We provide several networking events for our students to allow them to meet with professionals in their fields.
  14. This campus is small enough to know students’ names. Here, they’re not just a number.
  15. We have a vibrant student life with numerous organizations our students can join.
  16. We have a cadaver lab on campus, one of the few in the country available to undergraduate students. Students planning to enter the medical field can receive experience working with a cadaver earlier than most of their peers.
  17. Despite our high-quality academic programs, we are one of the most affordable four-year colleges in the nation. I’m grateful for the return on investment for our graduates.
  18. Our newest enrollment numbers indicate 31 percent of our student population is Hispanic, and we are a federally designated Hispanic-Serving Institution. This means so much to me because it demonstrates we are serving our community. Also, we have already been notified of federal grant funds to help support our mission due to our HSI designation.
  19. We have an exciting athletics program! Our women’s cross-country team recently won the 2019 SSAC championship, and our basketball team has a 4-0 start on the season.
  20. Our students can design and conduct their own research – at the undergraduate level!
  21. The Wright School of Business has a presence in the Dalton Innovative Accelerator giving our students hands-on experience working with industry and business leaders in our community.
  22. Our Bandy Heritage Center for Northwest Georgia has a newly renovated space in Roberts Library. Director Adam Ware is expanding our collecting of artifacts and preserving them. Also, there’s still time to see the chenille bedspread exhibit in the old freight depot in downtown Dalton.
  23. I am so thankful for each and every one of our students. We enroll approximately 5,000 students, and 87 percent of those are from Northwest Georgia.
  24. Our bell tower bells chime every 15 minutes, reminding me I’m home.
  25. I am proud to say more than half our students are first-generation college students, and we recently celebrated them on First-Generation College Students Day.
  26. Our local businesses and industries work with the college, placing students in valuable internships to give them first-hand experience before graduation.
  27. We have a robust study abroad program, allowing our students to experience other cultures and broaden their horizons.
  28. Our graduation rate is up 3 percent from last year. More and more of our students are choosing Dalton State and receiving degrees from here.
  29. We provide a large variety of events for the community, from plays and concerts, to speakers and guest lecturers.
  30. I am beyond grateful I get to come to work every day and be a part of Dalton State and this vibrant community.