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GTPC celebrates academic excellence at State of the College
Dr. Jabari Simama and Shunya Brewer - photo by Submitted Photo

Georgia Piedmont Technical College celebrated its Innaugural State of the College Address and Honors Convocation, Thursday April 10 with the theme, "Head to the Sky: Journey to Excellence."

"Today, as we come together for the 2014 State of the College Address and Honors Convocation, I am proud to recognize students who are headed toward the sky in their journey to excellence," said Dr. Jabari Simama, president of Georgia Piedmont Technical College, as he acknowledged the standing-room-only crowd in the college's Conference Center.

Dr. Simama thanked the many elected and appointed officials who attended the convocation. He also asked all veterans who were present to stand and be recognized. Additionally, he thanked the many community, business and industry leaders in attendance for their support, as well.

The address included enrollment and accreditation updates as well as new economic impact data. Georgia Piedmont Technical College serves a four-county area (DeKalb, Rockdale, Newton and Morgan) with an enrollment of 21,558. The college's economic impact on its service area is estimated to be approximately $60 million. Over the past year, GPTC has witnessed a 47% increase in the number of graduates, with enrollment up by 17%.

In addition to recognizing outstanding students, Dr. Simama's presentation focused on implementation of GPTC's five-year strategic plan. He emphasized goals that have been attained in four key areas: educational excellence, engagement excellence, management excellence and communication excellence.

Highlights from his Address included new programs and initiatives being implemented at GPTC in support of the strategic plan. For example, a new Digital Media Production Technology program to prepare students for work in the fields of film, television and music, as well as graphic design and animation. In terms of strengthening the college's infrastructure, GPTC has implemented a student-managed print services division; has embarked on a website re-design; and has created a financial aid center that is more customer-friendly.

"We are fiscally strong through responsible and conservative financial management. Beginning in fiscal 2014, we had the largest carryover of local funds in the history of the college," Simama said. "Because we have been fiscally responsible and because we have increased student enrollment and retention, we were able to give our faculty and staff their first salary supplement in seven years," he added.

"Ladies and gentlemen, I am pleased to report that the state of our college is good," he said, to a standing ovation.

The Honors Convocation recognized students who have excelled in their respective areas. Fifty students achieved the highest Grade Point Average (GPA) possible with a 4.0 GPA. These students are members of the prestigious President's List. The Dean's List honored an astounding 381 students who earned a GPA of 3.7 or higher.

Two special awards were conferred upon individuals who have also exhibited outstanding academic achievement. Robert Knox was honored as the 2014 Georgia Occupational Award of Leadership (GOAL) award recipient. The GOAL program is a statewide initiative administered by the Technical College System of Georgia. It honors excellence in academics and leadership among the state's technical college students. Its purpose is to place greater emphasis on the importance of technical education in today's world.

Cruz Sanchez was honored as the 2014 Exceptional Adult Georgian in Literacy Education (EAGLE) recipient. The EAGLE concept is designed to create a greater awareness of educational opportunities that are available in local communities across the state and to foster involvement in lifelong learning.

Attendees were treated to musical renditions by the "first" Georgia Piedmont Technical College Choir. In addition, soloist Maria Howell, an accomplished singer and actor, gave an astounding rendition of Earth, Wind and Fire's "Keep You Head to the Sky" following the State of the College Address. Ms. Howell has appeared in numerous movies and television programs including The Hunger Games: Catching Fire; The Color Purple; Tyler Perry's "Daddy's Little Girls," "Meet The Browns" and "House of Payne; and has shared the musical stage with artists such as Nancy Wilson, George Benson and Ray Charles.

Georgia Piedmont Technical College, a unit of the Technical College System of Georgia, has ten centers of learning in DeKalb, Newton, Rockdale, and Morgan counties and more than 5,000 students enrolled in diploma or degree programs and more than 9,000 in adult education classes. For more information, go to