VALDOSTA, Georgia — University System of Georgia Chancellor Sonny Perdue, Board of Regents Chairman Harold Reynolds, and Regent Tim Evans stopped by Valdosta State University Monday to learn more about Blazer Nation’s unique strengths, opportunities, and needs.
“I am truly grateful for their visit and this opportunity to share a small sampling of the many exceptional people, programs, and facilities that make VSU special,” said Dr. Richard A. Carvajal, president of VSU. “I am also excited about the leadership they will bring to our university system and look forward to working with them to keep Valdosta State and Georgia moving forward.”
Perdue, Reynolds, and Evans were able to learn more about several points of pride on VSU’s Main Campus and Rea and Lillian Steele North Campus, with each stop demonstrating how VSU is working to transform lives and prepare new generations of bold leaders to empower the people and places closest to them.
Highlights of their visit include:
- The Performing Arts Center — A. Blake Pearce, dean of the College of the Arts, and Dr. Robert Smith, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, showed the USG leaders the future home of VSU’s new Performing Arts Center. This nearly $29 million state-of-the-art facility, once constructed, will enhance VSU’s ability to support regional tourism efforts, both through the regular season theatre productions and Peach State Summer Theatre, the Official Musical Theatre of the State of Georgia. The facility will also support VSU’s efforts to recruit and retain highly talented students to performing arts programs and help protect the university’s commitment to creative excellence.
- Aerospace Studies — Major Stephen Ott and cadets from VSU’s Air Force ROTC Detachment 172 introduced the USG leaders to their new flight simulation room. The technologically advanced simulation room will give VSU cadets a competitive advantage when competing for rated jobs — pilot, combat air system operator, remotely piloted aircraft pilot, and air battle manager — in the military. The competition for these jobs is stiff, with the best and most qualified cadets across the nation competing against each other. VSU’s investment in its Aerospace Studies Program has already had a significant influence on the success of the cadets. The spring graduating class of cadets had a 100 percent selection rate for these coveted Air Force roles, including five pilots, two combat air system operators, three remotely piloted aircraft pilots, and one air battle manager.
- Healthcare — Dr. James Pace, dean of the College of Nursing and Health Sciences, and Michele Blankenship, assistant professor of nursing and director of simulation, shared the many ways their faculty, staff, and students are serving as a resource for healthcare in South Georgia and helping to create healthier communities. This includes addressing the nursing shortage, answering the call to support underserved populations, using simulation experiences to improve skills and cultural competence, and training the next generation of nursing faculty.
- FinTech — Dr. Karin Roland, dean of the Harley Langdale Jr. College of Business Administration, and Dr. Elvan Aktas, professor of finance and interim head of the Department of Economics, Finance, and Healthcare Administration, invited the USG leaders inside VSU’s Financial Trading Center, where students work with industry-trained faculty to trade and invest real dollars. They also discussed VSU’s role in creating a talent pipeline for Georgia’s fast-growing financial technology (fintech) business sector.
Appointed by the Board of Regents, of which Reynolds and Evans are members, Perdue began his duties as the USG’s 14th chancellor on April 1. He is a veterinarian, an agribusiness owner, and a veteran of the U.S. Air Force. He served in the Georgia Senate from 1991 to 2001, as governor of Georgia from 2003 to 2011, and as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture from 2017 to 2021. He has said that his latest role in higher education may be his most important one yet, and he “can’t think of a better way to make a difference than to help prepare the next generation.”