The Valdosta Daily Times
Valdosta State University held its annual fall convocation Monday. Each year, to celebrate the beginning of a new school year, this event is held to bring faculty and staff members together to hear words of encouragement, challenges for the new year and to honor their achievements.
This year’s convocation began with VSU President Dr. William McKinney welcoming honored guests from throughout the campus and the community. There were also special speeches from Dr. Ed Walker, with the faculty senate, and Regina Lee of the Council on Staff Affairs.
William Jimerson, VSU’s Student Government Association president, made the final presentation. Jimerson offered words of thanks and encouragement on behalf of the student body.
“I encourage all of us to dig deep inside ourselves to become the difference that we seek in this institution,” he said. “Welcome to a place of high standards, responsibility and endless possibilities. Welcome to the home of the Blazers. The Valdosta State University. Great things are happening at Valdosta State University.”
Following these speeches, McKinney shared his convocation speech. He spoke of the importance of change and how change and permanence can coexist.
“We’re not the same university as we were 20 years ago. We are not the same university as we were one year ago,” McKinney said. “We are not the same as we were yesterday.”
He spoke about the importance of recognizing VSU as a community. “Community” is this year’s homecoming theme, with an emphasis on “unity.” It was also noted that this year marks the 50th anniversary of racial integration at VSU. The university will celebrate this anniversary beginning in September.
Other points discussed by McKinney included praise for the successes and improvements made at VSU during the last year. He spoke about the football team and competition cheerleaders winning national titles. He praised the fact that eight of the university’s sports teams had GPAs of 3.0 or better, with three of these teams, the girl’s soccer, softball and girl’s cross-country, having a GPA of 3.5 or better.
McKinney also announced that VSU will extend its out-of-state waiver to more bordering Florida counties.
As for McKinney’s
vision for the university, he hopes that VSU will be the premier regional university in the United States. He also shared his strategic planning goals.
“To recruit, retain and graduate a quality, diverse student population and prepare those students for their rolls as leaders in the global society. Increase financial support for the institution,” he said. “Promote student, employee, alumni, and community engagement in our mission. Foster an environment of creativity and scholarship. Develop and enhance VSU’s human and physical resources.”
Following McKinney’s speech came the presentation of awards to faculty and staff members recognizing their successes throughout the last year. Faculty members who were honored were Dr. Mark Grozos, associate professor of geosciences, with the Excellence in Teaching Award; Dr. James “Jim” Nienow, professor of biology, with the Excellence in Professional Activity Award; Dr. Martha Leake, professor of planetary science, with the Excellence in Service Award; and Dr. Jay Rickman, professor or history, with the Excellence in Advising Award; and Kathy Sundin, instructional technology specialist, with the Excellence in Service for Classified Staff Award.