GPTC kicks off 20th year in New­ton County

The Covington News - - LOCAL - DUANE M. FORD dford@cov­news.com

Twenty years ago, Ge­or­gia Pied­mont Tech­ni­cal Col­lege (GPTC) opened its New­ton Cam­pus and be­came the first pub­lic post-se­condary in­sti­tu­tion with a phys­i­cal pres­ence in this area. The GPTC New­ton Cam­pus starts its third decade with a new dean, Irvin Clark; a new ad­vanced man­u­fac­tur­ing pro­gram; a new Ger­man ap­pren­tice­ship pro­gram of­fered in co­op­er­a­tion with area part­ners; and more.

To kick­off its aca­demic year as well as the cel­e­bra­tion of its pres­ence in New­ton County, GPTC held its an­nual start-of-the-year, col­lege-wide fac­ulty and staff meet­ing, or convocation, in Cov­ing­ton on Aug. 22.

“This year, we are hold­ing convocation at our New­ton Cam­pus,” Jabari Si­mama, GPTC’s pres­i­dent, said. “We are cel­e­brat­ing 20 years of of­fer­ing qual­ity pro­grams in the New­ton com­mu­nity. Two decades. To give you an idea of the time­frame, when ground was bro­ken in 1996 for this cam­pus, Atlanta was just get­ting ready to host the Olympic Games.”

Dur­ing the convocation, Jabari Si­mama, pres­i­dent, and Essence Jones, a busi­ness man­age­ment stu­dent and GPTC stu­dent gov­ern­ment as­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent, of­fered greet­ings and high­lighted re­cent de­vel­op­ments.

Ivan Har­rell, ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent for aca­demic and stu­dent af­fairs, pre­sented the 150 new fac­ulty and staff mem­bers who have been hired since Septem­ber 2016. He and Si­mama rec­og­nized and honored re­tir­ing math­e­mat­ics in­struc­tor and col­lege ad­min­is­tra­tor Daisy Walker Davis who has worked for the col­lege since 1994.

Si­mama opened his com­ments say­ing, “At Ge­or­gia Pied­mont, our fo­cus is on cre­at­ing ed­u­ca­tional pro­grams and en­vi­ron­ments for the 21st cen­tury so that our stu­dents can thrive in the mod­ern world. We do this by act­ing as one col­lege — one or­ga­ni­za­tion col­lec­tively fo­cused on stu­dent suc­cess.” He then of­fered the fol­low­ing high­lights.

This past year GPTC met or ex­ceeded nearly ev­ery goal es­tab­lished for it by the Tech­ni­cal Col­lege Sys­tem of Ge­or­gia (TCSG), in­clud­ing those for en­roll­ment growth, re­ten­tion rate, dual en­roll­ment, grad­u­a­tion rate, and full-time-equiv­a­lent stu­dent num­bers. GPTC leads all TCSG col­leges in re­ten­tion rate, which is a mea­sure of how many stu­dents do not dropout.

GPTC grad­u­ates achieved an em­ploy­ment rate of 99.5 per­cent and eight out of 10 found em­ploy­ment re­lated to the field in which they were trained.

The col­lege has a com­mit­ment to “go­ing green.” One-third of its ve­hi­cle fleet is elec­tric or high-ef­fi­ciency and GPTC has a goal of in­creas­ing that to 100 per­cent. New elec­tric ve­hi­cle charg­ing sta­tions have been added to its cam­puses.

The new ad­vanced man­u­fac­tur­ing pro­gram is start­ing on the New­ton Cam­pus. Greg Smith has been hired to di­rect the new lab­o­ra­tory that will sup­port the pro­gram. The lab will fea­ture over $1 mil­lion worth of new in­struc­tional equip­ment.

GPTC’s prac­ti­cal nursing pro­gram is ranked first in the state by prac­ti­cal­nurs­ing.org, partly due to the pro­gram’s 2012-2015 grad­u­ates achiev­ing a 100 per­cent pass rate on the na­tional li­cen­sure exam.

GPTC and Clark Atlanta Uni­ver­sity worked to­gether to start the “Ac­cess 4 Achieve­ment” pro­gram which al­lows stu­dents to be si­mul­ta­ne­ously ad­mit­ted and en­rolled in both in­sti­tu­tions, fa­cil­i­tates trans­fer, and cre­ates joint fac­ulty and teach­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties. Jones plans to use this pro­gram to help her trans­fer to Clark Atlanta Uni­ver­sity af­ter she grad­u­ates from GPTC next May.

Kye Hay­more and Vir­gil Cost­ley, para­le­gal stud­ies in­struc­tors based on the New­ton County cam­pus, achieved per­sonal dis­tinc­tion. Hay­more was elected na­tion-wide pres­i­dent for the Amer­i­can As­so­ci­a­tion for Para­le­gal Ed­u­ca­tion. Cost­ley re­ceived the Jus­tice Robert Ben­ham Award for Com­mu­nity Ser­vice from the State Bar of Ge­or­gia.

Penny Wo­mack, adult ba­sic ed­u­ca­tion and GED math­e­mat­ics lead, was run­ner-up for na­tional out­stand­ing teacher of the year by the Coali­tion on Adult Ba­sic Ed­u­ca­tion.

This past year, 13 stu­dents won medal­lions at the statewide Skill­sUSA com­pe­ti­tion. At the na­tional level, GPTC stu­dents claimed three gold medals, one sil­ver medal, and a fifth place while com­pet­ing against more than 6200 stu­dents from 50 states and four US ter­ri­to­ries.

The GPTC stu­dent soccer team made it to the league fi­nals this year.

Look­ing for­ward, Si­mama stated that GPTC will en­gage in a wide-rang­ing plan­ning project this year.

“We are un­der­go­ing a top-to-bot­tom re­view of our aca­demic pro­grams to de­velop an aca­demic mas­ter plan that will be fu­ture-fac­ing, po­si­tion­ing the col­lege to pro­vide rel­e­vant ed­u­ca­tion for to­day’s world,” he said.

“We are re­view­ing our pro­cesses and sys­tems to as­sure that they meet the de­mands of these pro­grams. We have be­gun and will con­tinue the nec­es­sary plan­ning to re­vamp and reimag­ine our phys­i­cal in­fra­struc­ture so that it can keep pace with our stu­dents and busi­ness and in­dus­try needs.”

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