AJC On Campus: Regents pick chair, safer bike paths for Kennesaw State

A biweekly roundup of news and happenings from Georgia colleges and universities.

There’s something about fall on a college campus: Falling leaves, football rivalries and final exams still weeks away.

For the Georgia Board of Regents, which governs the University System of Georgia’s 26 public schools, it’s also the time to decide who should lead the way. The answer: Two familiar faces.

The regents last week gave Harold Reynolds a second one-year term as board chair and tapped Erin Hames to serve a second year as vice chair. Their leadership roles will continue through the end of 2023.

ExploreGeorgia college enrollment drops for second straight year

”I want to thank you all for really serving so ably. I think your unanimous nomination and selection again for next year was an indication (that) this board appreciates what you all do,” said Chancellor Sonny Perdue at the meeting.

Reynolds is the chief executive officer of BankSouth Holding Co., based in Greene County. He was appointed by Gov. Brian Kemp to the board in 2020.

Hames, appointed by former Gov. Nathan Deal, joined the board in 2018. She’s the headmaster of Heritage Preparatory School in Atlanta. She previously worked as Perdue’s policy director when he was governor.

Bike safety

The regents also approved several campus construction projects, including a more than $2 million plan to improve safety for pedestrians and bicyclists at Kennesaw State University’s Kennesaw campus.

The work will bring updates to several intersections where multiple accidents have occurred. There’s also a plan to create dedicated bus lanes and expand pedestrian and bike paths. The project will largely eliminate vehicle traffic from the center of the campus, according to documents from the regents.

Supporting Black engineers

The Atlanta University Center Consortium has launched a new institute to boost the number of Black engineers.

The Institute for Dual Degree Engineering Advancement, or IDEA, is intended to be “a national hub” for 250 dual degree engineering programs across the country to share best practices. Blacks make up just 5% of the nation’s engineering workforce, according to a report published in April 2021 by the Pew Research Center.

The AUC dual degree program serves students from Clark Atlanta University and Morehouse and Spelman colleges. They earn a liberal arts degree from their school and an engineering degree from a partner school.

The new institute received $1.5 million in support from the A. James and Alice B. Clark Foundation.

More campus upgrades

Another regents-approved project will result in a more than $3 million renovation of Georgia Tech’s internal audit and general counsel offices at 760 Spring Street.

The building is located in what’s known as Tech Square.

Credit: ALYSSA ANNIS UNG PHOTOGRAPHER

Credit: ALYSSA ANNIS UNG PHOTOGRAPHER

And in Cumming, the University of North Georgia recently marked the groundbreaking of a $14.55 million, 27,300-square foot addition to its campus in Forsyth County.

The extra room “will allow for the addition of bachelor’s degrees in Cumming” and accommodate a future enrollment of more than 2,000 students, the university said in a statement. The university said the Cumming campus currently serves 1,373 students. It will have classrooms, offices and space for other uses and is expected to open in fall 2024.

Dalton State College’s president to retire

Margaret Venable, who has served as Dalton State College’s president since January 2015, recently announced she will retire in the summer of 2023.

Perdue said in a statement that Venable has made Dalton State “one of the top state colleges in the southeast and one of the most affordable in the nation.” During her tenure, Dalton State became Georgia’s first Hispanic-Serving Institution, which allowed the college to receive and implement a $2.1 million federal Title V grant from the U.S. Department of Education. More than 35% of Dalton State’s enrollment is Hispanic, the highest percentage of any school in the University System. The college has about 4,500 students.

Scholarship honors late NBA referee

Credit: Add Seymour

Credit: Add Seymour

Tony Brown continues to make an impact at his alma mater, Clark Atlanta University.

The NBA referee and 1989 graduate of the historically Black university died last month at age 55 after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2021. His wife, Tina Taylor-Brown, his family, friends and fellow alumni rallied to show their love by raising money for a scholarship in his honor.

On Nov. 7, during the season’s first basketball game, they presented a check from the Tony and Tina Brown Scholarship Endowment to the university’s men’s and women’s basketball programs.

Officials also used the occasion to spread awareness about pancreatic cancer, dubbing the game day “Pan Can Night.”

Brown officiated more than 1,100 games, including several All-Star games, during nearly two decades in the NBA.

If you have any higher education tips or thoughts, email higher education reporter Vanessa McCray at vanessa.mccray@ajc.com.