VALDOSTA — A special ceremony Tuesday at Valdosta State University recognized the generosity of a local family.

President Ronald Zaccari welcomed the crowd of university faculty and students, Park Avenue Bank affiliates and guests of honor, Dorothy Herndon Dewar and son James “Jimmy” Dewar Jr., to the name unveiling of the college’s education building.

Nearly two months ago, the university announced the donation of a $2 million gift made by Jimmy Dewar and the Park Avenue Bank Bankshares Inc. in honor of his parents, James L. and Dorothy H. Dewar.

For decades, the Dewars have been committed to extending and enhancing education throughout the community. Through the years as Mr. Dewar established the Park Avenue Bank, he maintained his commitment to education, becoming superintendent of the Lowndes County Board of Education and later serving on the state board of education and the university’s foundation board of trustees. The Dewars also have made several other financial contributions to the university in past years that continue to assist students through the provision of scholarship funds.

Although Mr. Dewar, 94, could not attend the ceremony, Mrs. Dewar, 90, sat proudly alongside her son as he and Dr. Philip Gunter, dean of the College of Education, joined others to unveil the building’s new name. Gunter thanked the Dewar family for their years of support to the college and shared some of the innovative education initiatives the gift will help the college to accomplish.

“One of the dreams of Dr. Zaccari and many of the faculty members here is to investigate the possibility of developing charter schools for the purpose of teacher training. We would like to enhance the knowledge and procedure for preparing teachers who are able to deal with unique student groups, possibly those that aren’t performing well,” Gunter said.

In recent years VSU’s College of education has been recognized for its strength in producing quality teachers, but especially for its focus on training much needed math and science teachers.

“Valdosta State has been recognized for excellence in producing teachers in these subjects, and I believe that through this gift, we can help to further enhance that standing. We are seeing state-wide and nationally that students are performing lower in the subjects of math and science, but with the charter school initiatives that we are researching, specific schools for math and science could be used to reverse those weaknesses to strength,” Gunter said following the ceremony.

Following the unveiling, Dewar and his mother stayed to greet friends and college supporters. As they approached the crowd, she smiled at Zaccari and said, “ I wish Jimmy (James Dewar Sr.) could be here to see this.”

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