Gadsden State honors retired president


Submitted photo: Dr. Martha Lavender, left, retired president of Gadsden State, is pictured with Dr. Kathy Murphy, current president, and John Roberson, director of Advancement and Alumni Relations, at the naming ceremony for the Dr. Martha Lavender Boardroom.


Gadsden State Community College recognized Dr. Martha Lavender for her contributions by naming the boardroom in the Joe Ford Center after the retired president.
“This is an opportunity for us to honor someone who has spent years making positive change through significant contributions to Gadsden State – professionally, personally and financially,” said John Roberson, director of Advancement and Alumni Relations. “Dr. Lavender will always be known as someone who has always loved and respected Gadsden State and all we have to offer the communities we serve.”
A naming ceremony for the new Dr. Martha Griffith Lavender Boardroom was held July 24 and was hosted by the Gadsden State Cardinal Foundation. Lavender endowed a scholarship known as the Martha and Tim Lavender Scholarship. She also donated $10,000 for the naming opportunity. Those funds will promote the Cardinal Foundation’s Promoting Student Access Initiative.
“We are here for a beautiful reason,” said Tommie Goggans III, chair of the Cardinal Foundation Board of Directors. “It is a wonderful time to honor all that has been done for our College and our community by Dr. Lavender.”
Boone Kinard, external affairs director for the Alabama Community College System, attended the celebration on behalf of Chancellor Jimmy Baker.
“As president, Dr. Lavender focused on the facilities at Gadsden State,” he said. “She wanted to make sure that the facilities were improved for the students so that they have nurturing learning environments.”
He pointed out several projects that were completed under Lavender’s leadership, including the addition to the Cheaha Center on the Ayers Campus and the renovation of Allen Hall on the Wallace Drive Campus. Most notably was the new construction of the Science Building on the East Broad Campus.
“There will be many students who will be educated in that building for many years to come thanks to Dr. Lavender and her vision,” Kinard said. “It is only fitting that we name a room after her for her wonderful contributions.”
Dr. Kathy Murphy, who has been the president at Gadsden State since January 2021, reviewed Lavender’s extensive 45-year career, which included administrative and faculty positions at Jacksonville State University and the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Most of her career was spent at Gadsden State, where she earned her first of many degrees in Nursing. Professionally, she served Gadsden State as a nursing instructor, the assistant to the president, campus director at Gadsden State Cherokee and the dean of Health Sciences. She was named interim president in 2014 before accepting the role officially in 2015. She retired in September 2020.
“I’m beyond honored to acknowledge you today,” Murphy said. “Thank you for the legacy you have left at Gadsden State.”
Lavender was humbled and appreciative of the ceremony that included members of the Cardinal Foundation and the College’s executive cabinet.
“I fully believe the education I received at Gadsden State as a first-generation student was the springboard to my career,” she said. “Being here at Gadsden State was a joy for me. I enjoyed watching students work hard, graduate and make a living wage that truly made a difference in their lives and the lives of their families. Nothing is better than that.”
Since retiring, Lavender spends a lot of time with her husband, Tim, and her three grandchildren, Cayde, Nash and Avery Kate. She also stays busy as a community volunteer and is a strong advocate for the Challenger Learning Center, which will offer STEM-related activities targeted at middle school students.
“I tell my husband that I will stay active until he rolls me in the grave,” she said. “I enjoy working in the community and I encourage everyone to use your talents to help others.”
To learn more about naming opportunities at Gadsden State and financial contributions to the Cardinal Foundation, contact Roberson at 256-549-8377.

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