Georgia Southwestern Interim President Patterson Takes a Long View
Wednesday, February 18th, 2015
Dr. Charles Patterson took the reins at Georgia Southwestern State University on Jan. 1, 2015, as interim president. Former president Dr. Kendall Blanchard retired at the end of 2014 after leading the university for six years.
"The university and the community have been very, very supportive," said Patterson, who was previously Georgia Southern University's vice president for research and economic development and dean of the Jack N. Averitt College of Graduate Studies.
"When I moved here, I intentionally settled downtown so I could be in the heart of the community and really take part in everything it and the university have to offer. I think Georgia Southwestern has some really great assets – and the people are it."
Located in Americus, Georgia Southwestern State University has an enrollment of 2,527 undergraduate and 139 graduate students. Its campus includes 44 buildings on 250 scenic acres plus an 18-hole golf course.
Patterson's top priority as interim president is recruitment and progression.
"We're taking an acute look at our enrollment management strategies. Marketing and recruiting efforts begun last year are already delivering results – the number of students registering for our January 31 preview day this year was up 50 percent over last year," Patterson said.
The university is reaching out to prospective students in other ways. For example, select students are invited to attend a Scholars Day and learn about the $500,000 in scholarships that are available each year.
According to Patterson, graduate enrollment has increased with the reactivation of two specialist degrees. The university is also partnering with institutions in China to increase international enrollment and provide a more diverse experience to all Georgia Southwestern students.
Strengthening community ties
The university has well-established connections to the surrounding community, including local businesses.
"We have a symbiotic relationship with businesses. We need their support to grow and we need to provide a skilled workforce that support business growth and economic development," Patterson said.
One of the university's unique programs is the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving - an advocacy, education, research, and service unit of Georgia Southwestern State University. The institute offers education and training for family and professional caregivers of the elderly and chronically ill.
"There is a tremendous need for a skilled workforce capable of delivering quality, long-term eldercare as well as care for our military veterans. We're helping to meet that need," Patterson said.
As interim president, Patterson also serves on the board of "One Sumter," the Americus Sumter Payroll Development Authority's new, five-year economic and community development initiative. The initiative is expected to create 2,500 new and expanded jobs and $125 million in additional payroll over the next five years. This translates into increased capital investment and enhanced profitability for all businesses in Sumter County.
A long-term perspective
Patterson's term as interim president has no predetermined end date. As a result, he is taking a long-term perspective to the work that needs to be done.
"We're focused on developing a financially strong and stable institution with the infrastructure it needs to be successful in the future," Patterson said.
More information on Georgia Southwestern State University is available at gsw.edu.