Fall Convocation kicks off anniversary celebrations and new programs
By: Grant Taylor
Professors danced in the aisles to a medley of hit songs from the past five decades. The GPC cheer squad brought energy and attitude to the proceedings. Retirees knocked around giant beach balls as surf rock played, and chants of G-P-C echoed throughout the gym.
On September 5th, at this year’s Fall Convocation, GPC faculty, staff, and retirees convened in the Clarkston gym to celebrate the college’s 50th anniversary. At the event, administrators updated attendees on the implementation of new campaigns to increase enrollment and ex-cite students about achieving their academic goals.
One such initiative, Complete College Georgia, a University System of Georgia (USG) program, addresses the state’s critical need to develop and produce a more educated citizenry. According to the USG website, the program intends to “rapidly increase the proportion of young adults with a certificate or degree, while maintaining a commitment to quality.”
Comparably, GPC’s Better Way Forward campaign hopes to boost student enrollment, retention and graduation rates. The program aims to raise awareness of opportunities avail-able to non-traditional students, stress the importance of smaller class sizes and affordability,and emphasize the benefits of gaining an Associate’s degree.
These programs come at a time when GPC enrollment is down drastically from two years ago–by more than 20 percent–following a national trend.
Tracia Walker, a second year communications major at Clarkston, pointed out that, although enrollment is down, GPC serves tens of thousands every year. Still she agreed that any new campaign for student success is a good thing. Many students define success as completing core classes and transferring rather than graduating with an Associate’s degree.
“We love our students, but they shouldn’t be here six years,” said Jennifer Jenkins, Fall Convocation Committee co-chair. “We want to love on them then get them out and on with their careers.”
Emily Lipsey, a third semester theater major, said there are plenty of opportunities available to students if they are willing to look. She worked with Jenkins as an assistant stage manager and a student adviser to the convocation committee.
The convocation speakers included Dr.Houston Davis, USG executive vice chancellor and Interim President Rob Watts, who delivered the state-of-the-college address. President Watts was pleased to deliver the news that enrollment is up nine percent compared to last year.
He said, “We’re in good to keep it that way.”