Many accomplishments and exciting announcements were made at Gadsden State Community College in 2022. Here is a look back at the good news at northeast Alabama’s premiere community college.
Gadsden State announced that it was one of 12 community colleges in Alabama to see an increase in enrollment during the 2021-22 academic year. Enrollment increased by 8 percent in the fall and 5 percent in the spring. The college also saw a 57 percent increase in dual enrollment, which allows students to take collegiate courses while simultaneously earning college and high school credits.
Gadsden State announced two new campus directors – Gerri Langley at the Ayers Campus and Ricky Tillis at the Valley Street Campus. Langley is also an Office Administration instructor while Tillis continues to work as a Title III program advisor.
An anonymous benefactor donated $200,000 to Gadsden State for scholarships and other financial assistance programs. Of the donation, $100,000 was earmarked for scholarships to those pursuing credentials in one of the college’s many workforce readiness programs, $60,000 went to leadership scholarships for students demonstrating leadership skills on campus and in the community and $30,000 was put into the Cardinal Emergency Fund to assist students experiencing times of financial duress. The remaining $10,000 created the Cardinal Opportunity Fund, which could be applied to student conference fees, testing fees and tools needed for classes.
Gadsden State announced the Start Strong Scholarships for high school seniors graduating in May 2022. The scho-larship covered six hours of tuition and fees for both the fall and spring semesters. The scholarships were worth almost $2,000.
Gadsden State President Dr. Kathy Murphy announced during a community meeting held April 18 in the Beck Field House that baseball and softball will be reinstated at the college. The baseball program disbanded in 2011, while the softball team ended in 2016. Gadsden State will field baseball and softball teams beginning this fall.
For the first time in over a decade, students from the Gadsden State Theatre Department staged a performance at the Wallace Hall Fine Arts Center. “Moon Over Buffalo” was performed April 21-23 and 28-30.
Gadsden State’s Valley Street Campus hosted a naming ceremony for its Student Lounge on May 4. The college named the lounge the Dr. Gertie Lowe Student Lounge to honor the $25,000 donation made to the Cardinal Foundation by her family.
Gadsden State announced Blake Lewis as the college’s new athletic director and baseball coach. While at Lawson State, Lewis was named Coach of the Year by the Alabama Community College Conference and became the all-time winningest coach in the college’s history.
The college announced the return of the Summer Six Scholarship for 2022 high school graduates who enrolled full time for the summer semester. The scholarship covered up to six credit hours of in-state tuition and fees.
Gadsden State signaled the start of its new apprenticeship program for registered nurses during a signing event on June 23. The first of its kind in Alabama, the new program became possible after the Alabama Legislature approved amendments to the Nurse Practice Act in early 2022. The program allows healthcare employers to enter into an apprenticeship agreement with a community college so that student apprentices can serve as employees at healthcare facilities to work alongside experienced nurses. Fifteen students signed employment contracts with Riverview Regional Medical Center and Rehab Select.
The Gadsden State women’s basketball team was named Academic Team of the Year by the Alabama Community College Conference. The team maintained an average grade point average of 3.51. Other Gadsden State teams recognized for having a team GPA of 3.0 or better were men’s tennis with a 3.4 GPA and women’s volleyball with a 3.35 GPA.
Gadsden State announced that it will construct a 50,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art Advanced Manufacturing Center on the college’s East Broad Campus. The facility will provide modern work and training space for students embarking on extremely high-tech careers that are in high demand and have high wages. Programs that will be housed in the AMC are Mechatronics, Industrial Automation, Precision Machining, Mechanical Design Technology, Additive Manufacturing and Electronics Engineering. The college broke ground for the facility earlier this month.
Three members the Gadsden State men’s tennis team were named Scholar-Athletes by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association. Tanner Arnold of Cedartown, Ga.; Noah Hefner of Southside; and Joanah Hudson of Lexington each received a varsity letter and mantained a GPA of at least a 3.5 in college coursework.
The college’s Upward Bound Program was informed that grants from the U.S. Department of Education were renewed for another five years. The Upward Bound programs at the Ayers Campus and Wallace Drive Campus will receive $711,663 collectively over the next year, with a commitment for additional funds the following four years.
Dr. Janekia Mitchell was named the college’s dean of Student Services. In her role, Dr. Mitchell provides leadership, strategic planning and executive oversight of student enrollment, retention and success for credit and non-credit programs. Dr. Mitchell came to Gadsden State after working for several years as a student counselor at Emma Sansom Middle School. She previously spent 16 years at Gadsden State in various roles.
The Gadsden State cross country team made its debut September 1 in the Foothills Invitational at Choccolocco Park in Oxford.
The U.S. Department of Education confirmed an annual grant of $327,543 each year through September 2027 for the college’s Veterans Upward Bound program.
The Alabama Power Foundation awarded a $50,000 grant to the Valley Street Campus. The money will be used for building upgrades at Prater Hall and the construction of an outdoor classroom for the Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Program.
Adult Education Services hosted its first graduation since 2019. Graduation ceremonies were halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The October 4 event recognized 46 students who received general equivalency diplomas.
The Health Sciences Division hired Karen Tyree as the director of Dental Science, a new program housed on the Valley Street Campus. The Gadsden native has 28 years of experience in dental assisting and dental hygiene. The first class for Dental Assisting began its training this past January.
Desmond Mitchell was named the director of the popular Gadsden State Show Band. He came to Gadsden State from Anniston High School, where he served as band director since 2003.
Gadsden State extended its Start Strong Scholarship Program to the Class of 2023. The scholarship covers up to six hours of tuition and fees each for the 2023 fall semester and the 2024 spring semester. It is open to graduating high school seniors.
Despite being a first-year program, the college’s women’s cross country team qualified for the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II Cross Country Meet in Tallahassee, Florida. The team, which remained in the Top 25 among Division II community colleges in the country, qualified for the national meet after finishing fourth at the Alabama Community College Conference Region 22 meet on October 28.
Four Gadsden State employees were recognized during the Alabama Community College Association Conference in Birmingham for being recipients of the annual Chancellor’s Award. Dr. Danetta McCurley, an instructor in the Nursing Program, received the award for technical faculty while Elise Harbin, an instructor in the Alabama Language Institute and the director of the Cardinal Tutoring Centers, received the academic faculty honor. Kathy Brown, administrative assistant for the Public Relations and Marketing Department, was the support staff honoree. Jessica Slaten from the Finance Department was named the administrative award winner.
The Gadsden State Alumni Association announced its Alumni of the Year winners – Beverly Elam, Outstanding Support Staff Award; Joe Hulsey, Outstanding Technical Faculty Member; Kelsey Taylor, Outstanding Academic Faculty Award; Brad Finley, Distinguished Alumni of the Year and and Garen Mullen, Distinguished Service Award.