By Justin Beaudrot
The recent gift from the Betty and Davis Fitzgerald Foundation is the single largest, private donation to Georgia Perimeter College in the school’s 50-year history. One million dollars dispersed over a four-year period will provide struggling students and prospective students with the supplemental educational support to help them succeed.
Vice President for Institutional Advancement, Jeff Tarnowski announced the gift during a ceremony on the Clarkston Campus Feb. 19. He said students will see the impact of the donation beginning this year.
During the ceremony, GPC Interim President Rob Watts said, “We are extremely grateful for the investment the Fitzgerald Foundation is making in our region. Expanding academic support services to students is absolutely critical to our effort to increase student retention and graduation rates, which will play a pivotal role in Georgia’s ability to meet jobs expectations in the coming years.”
Clarkston’s Learning and Tutoring Center (LTC) will be expanded, and more tutor-run study groups will reduce wait times to help meet student demand, Nick Arnold, GPC student and tutor, said.
The Fitzgerald Foundation has given smaller grants to GPC previously. The foundation selected GPC for the $1 million gift because of the college’s “enthusiasm and diversity,” said Jackie Stradley, who represented the Foundation at the announcement ceremony.
Over the next four years, GPC plans to use the funds to hire more tutors for LTC programs on each of the school’s five campuses, Mary Hamilton, Coordinator for the Clarkston Campus LTC, said.
She said the expansion for the Clarkston LTC will provide a room reserved for algebra tutoring to meet one of the center’s top tutoring demands.
The gift will also fund a full-time math tutor by Fall semester, as well as multiple part-time tutors and 30 supplemental instructors. Supplemental instruction is a fairly new practice in which fellow students or staff members directly help students with a particular class and conduct formal tutoring groups. All tutoring methods help students find the path to correct answers themselves, assisting in a more developed education.
A new STEM Lab, such as the one at Clarkston, will be placed at one of GPC’s other campus locations, Tarnowski said. The STEM lab provides learning assistance in the critical fields of science, technology, engineering, and math.
Tarnowski added that not only will this donation help students in the immediate future, it will also encourage other private foundations to donate as they see the results of the Fitzgerald donation.
The Betty and Davis Fitzgerald Foundation donated $1 million gifts to three other organizations. Others are Egleston Hospital, Grady Memorial Hospital’s Mental Health Division, and the Teach for America organization for Gwinnett and Clayton counties.
(Illustration by Cornelius Brewster)