Gordon State College president Dr. Kirk A. Nooks delivered the institution’s Second Annual State of the College address January 29, 2021, a program which also included the introduction of the GSC Scholarship recipient Elijah Clemmons and the introduction of President Nooks by Presidential Fellow Harrison Bishton, a Coweta County resident and veteran who was part of the U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command. Appointed in June 2018, Nooks is the fourth president of the institution since it joined the University System of Georgia in 1972.
Gordon State College currently offers 16 associate-level degrees as well as the 11 bachelor’s degree programs. The Board of Regents of the USG recently gave GSC the green light to begin the process of offering two new degrees; a Nexus Degree in Film Production and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice through the University System of Georgia’s eMajor. Gordon hopes to start offering classes for the new degrees pending approval by the Gordon State Faculty Senate and Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. In addition, Nooks shared the college has just received official accreditation for the Health Information Management program, only the second institution within the USG to receive this accreditation.
Nooks provided 2020 highlights and accomplishments in a virtual presentation featuring the college’s progress toward achieving the goals of the five-year Strategic Plan: “Building The Power of WE,” initiated in 2019. “We are seeing the benefits of our collaboration with partnerships within our region,” said President Nooks, as he shared the college ranking in the top 20 leading regional state colleges in the nation for three consecutive years as reported by U.S. News and World Report, and seventh best nursing school in Georgia. “We know our graduates leave Gordon equipped with The Highlander EDGE, [Engaged Innovators, Dedicated Scholars, Gifted Communicators and Ethical Leaders,] noted qualities that set Gordon graduates apart. These qualities give them a noted advantage in the workforce,” he said.
Nooks commended EDGE leaders including among others, Hannah Norwood, a junior history major, who was recently named the recipient of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs highly competitive Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship and the first student to receive this award and biology major Amber Fraley, who plans on volunteering in local pharmacies and other health related organizations in order to gain experience for her future career as a pharmacist of biochemist.
GSC’s African-American Male Initiative (AAMI) program received full funding from the USG this year in the amount of $15,000 in sponsored funds to collaboratively carry out the mission and singular focus of
the program to develop stellar scholars of today into extraordinary leaders of tomorrow. The college also established the inaugural Presidential Fellows Program, allowing students to grow their leadership experiences and serve as ambassadors for the Office of the President and the college.
In Fall 2020, Gordon enrolled 3,200. It saw a 13 percent increase in student enrollment from the past summer, resulting in a record high enrollment of more than 1,000 students. GSC had the highest retention rate for first-time, full time freshmen, with more than 61 percent of students returning after their first year. One hundred percent of faculty received an online accreditation to teach courses virtually, as the college had to pivot to deliver classes remotely in March due to the pandemic.
In its virtual spring commencement ceremony, the college awarded 125 baccalaureate degrees and 144 associate degrees to graduating students. 81 percent of whom hailed from 13 of the college’s 14-county service area. Fifty-three percent of the graduating class earned their associate degree while the other 47 percent earned their baccalaureate degree.
Another virtual commencement ceremony, held in December 2020, added another 69 associate degree and 105 baccalaureate degree candidates who ranged in age from 17 to 65. Thirty-eight percent of graduates were adult learners, 46 were first generation college students and 13 percent of them graduated with honors. “This is outstanding news, and a tribute to the collaborative efforts of our faculty and staff.