Coastal Georgia Launches New Academic Year

Brunswick, GA – It was a sea of white caps with blue sails when Coastal Georgia faculty and staff donned caps and gathered in the Thomas Auditorium of the Southeast Georgia Conference Center on Monday, August 13, for a snapshot of the coming academic year as well as a snapped shot of the convocation. Dr. Valerie Hepburn, College President, presented what she dubbed “the state of the College” during the three-hour session.

Based on a recent newspaper story headline, “Best decision ever,” which quoted Coastal Georgia student athletes, Dr. Hepburn challenged the campus family to reinforce student enthusiasm throughout the academic year.

She noted several recent successes: accreditation reaffirmed by SACSCOC; inclusion in the Complete College America grant program; and continuation on the list of the U.S. Department of Education’s top 10% of American colleges providing good economic value. The new academic year is opening with strong enrollment and full housing. Among other strengths, Dr. Hepburn pointed to service-learning, increased fulltime enrolment and student diversity, solid finances, and unparalleled community and state support. Recent renovations and current construction projects were reviewed, as well as technological improvements.

Dr. Hepburn explained the structure of the new, combined School of Arts and Sciences under the leadership of Dr. Keith Belcher as dean with department chairs Dr. Andrea Wallace (Natural Sciences), Dr. German Vargas (Mathematics), Dr. Carla Bluhm (Social Sciences) and interim chair Ricky Weaver (Arts and Humanities).

Seven priorities for the coming year were stressed:
  • Complete College Georgia
  • Revamping and improving student advising
  • Expanding service-learnin
  • Developing a proposal for a 10th baccalaureate degree, a BA in American Studies
  • Establishing a common read for Fall 2013 term
  • Moving forward in the second phase of on-campus housing
  • Funding for Academic Commons South renovation
In addition to Dr. Michael Hazelkorn, Dean of the School of Education and Teacher Preparation, who started at the end of spring term, Dr. Hepburn introduced 15 new faculty members who have joined the full-time teaching staff of the College for the new academic year:

Ashley Barnes, Instructor of Nursing    A College of Coastal Georgia alumna, Barns graduated from Georgia Southern University with a BSN. Prior to joining the nursing faculty, she worked in the Southeast Georgia Health System, Brunswick Campus, from May 2008-July 2012, as well as with cataract surgery patients at Seaside Surgical between October 2011-July 2012.

Nicki Bushway, Visiting Instructor of Education Bushway is currently working on her PhD in Educational Leadership with Cognates in Reading and Assessment at the University of North Florida, Jacksonville. She holds a MEd in Montessori and Early Childhood Education from Xavier University in Cincinnati and her BS in Education from Bowling Green State University in Ohio. She has served as childcare programs director for the YWCA of Brunswick; curriculum leader and lower elementary lead teacher for Christian Montessori School, St. Simons Island; and is the owner and lead tutor of Island Tutoring.

Brandy S. Chambers, Instructor of Nursing Originally from Nahunta, Chambers is a College of Coastal Georgia alumna who completed her BSN at Armstrong Atlantic State University. A RN with the Southeast Georgia Health System since July 2010, Chambers has served as clinical instructor assistant at the College since March 2012.

Graeme Coetzer, Associate Professor of Management  Dr. Coetzer holds citizenship in the U.S., Canada and South Africa, has taught at universities in Australia and the Republic of Georgia, and has consulted for companies and organizations as diverse as the Salvation Army, Labatts Canada, Workers Compensation Board of British Columbia, Microsoft, and Strata Management Association of Queensland and Australia. Prior to joining the faculty of Coastal Georgia, he served as Associate Professor for the Masters in Leadership and Organizational Systems at Saybrook University, Kirkland, WA. He earned his PhD in Organizational and Human Resources Development and MBA in Human Resources Management from Simon Fraser University in British Columbia and a Bachelor of Commerce with a major in industrial psychology and accounting from the University of South Africa.

Sheronda Cuffie, Radiologic Science Clinical Coordinator and Instructor of Radiologic Science Prior to joining the faculty of Coastal Georgia, Cuffie was a radiographer with SouthCoast Imaging Center in Savaanah and a clinical preceptor at Armstrong Atlantic State University. She earned her BS in Radiologic Science at Armstrong Atlantic where she is currently working on her master’s in adult education and community leadership.

Dawn Eldred, Assistant Professor of Nursing Prior to joining the faculty of Coastal Georgia, Eldred was a critical care transport nurse at Florida Hospital-Orlando and a staff RN in the intensive care unit of Florida Hospital-Altamonte Springs. She holds RN licenses for the states of Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania and is a certified flight nurse. Walden earned her MSN in Nursing Education from Walden University in Minneapolis and her BSN from Bloomsburg University in Pennsylvania.

J. Carol Elliott, BSN Program Coordinator and Assistant Professor of Nursing Dr. Elliott is American Nurses’ Credentialing Center Certified as an Adult Psychiatric Mental Health Clinical Nurse Specialist and holds National League for Nursing Certification as a Nurse Educator. She has 17 years of teaching experience, including four years at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, NH, and three years with the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy nursing program, also in Manchester. She holds PhDs in Nursing from Boston College in Massachusetts and the University of Tennessee in Knoxville as well as a MS from the University of Akron in Ohio as a clinical nurse specialist.

Orsolya Kolozsvari, Assistant Professor of Sociology Prior to joining the faculty of Coastal Georgia, Dr. Kolozsvari was an instructor and graduate teaching and research assistant in the Department of Sociology, Georgia State University, where she completed her doctoral studies. She earned her MA in Sociology and English at the University of Debrecen, Hungary.

Andrew Piercy, Lecturer of Biology Prior to joining the faculty of Coastal Georgia, Dr. Piercy served as Research Assistant Professor and Adjunct Instructor in the University of North Florida’s Department of Biology. He was a lecturer for Project Shark Awareness and Sawfish in Peril outreach programs, educating Florida high school teachers about shark biology and sawfish conservation. Dr. Piercy earned his PhD in Biology with a major in fisheries and aquatic sciences from the University of Florida, his MS in Biology from the University of Central Florida, and his BS with English and Biology Honors from Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Virginia.

Colleen Reynoso, Assistant Professor of Chemistry Dr. Reynoso holds a PhD in Chemistry from Emory University and graduated summa cum laude from the University of West Georgia with a BS in Chemistry in the biochemistry track. Her graduate research has focused on riboswitches.

Sharon Sellers-Clark, Director of Field Experience, Certification, Data Management and Outreach and Assistant Professor of Education Prior to joining the faculty of Coastal Georgia, Dr. Sellers-Clark served as Academic Director, Office of Field Experiences for Wayne State University, College of Education, in Detroit. She had been with Wayne State since 1999, following seven years as a teacher in the Washington, D.C., public school system. Dr. Sellers-Clark holds a PhD in Communications from Wayne State, an MS in Instructional Technology from the University of the District of Columbia, and a BA in English from Spelman College, Atlanta. Her current research centers on the use of service-learning to determine teacher disposition.

David Starkey, Assistant Professor of Biology  Prior to joining the faculty of Coastal Georgia, Dr. Starkey was Assistant Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, University of Central Arkansas. He served as co-chair of the Genetics and General Science Symposium of the Turtle Survival Alliance in 2007 and has extensive field experience. Dr. Starkey holds a PhD in Biology with a major in genetics from Texas A&M. His undergraduate and master’s in biology were earned in Illinois.

Jason Tondro, Assistant Professor of English Prior to joining the faculty of Coastal Georgia, Dr. Tondro served as adjunct faculty at the University of California, Riverside, for 10 years as well as a composition instructor at Riverside and San Bernardino Valley Community Colleges. He holds a PhD and master’s in English from the University of California, Riverside, and a BA in English from the University of Nevada, Reno.

Lydia Watkins, Assistant Professor of Nursing Dr. Watkins completed her doctorate in nursing practice this summer at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where she also earned her MSN. Her AN and BSN were earned at Samford University, Birmingham. She is a Pediatric Palliative Care and End-of-Life Certified Trainer as well as a certified pediatric nurse practitioner and chemotherapy and biotherapy provider. Prior to joining the faculty of Coastal Georgia, she served as an adjunct instructor in the Department of Pediatrics and Human Development at Michigan State University, College of Human Medicine, as well as a nurse practitioner in pediatric hematology/oncology with Sparrow Health Systems, Lansing, Michigan.

Christopher Wilhelm, Assistant Professor of History Dr. Wilhelm is moving to the area from Tallahassee, where he was Adjunct Professor of History at Florida State University and at Tallahassee Community College. He holds a PhD and MA in History from Florida State University and a BA in History from Florida International University. His primary fields of study are American history, environmental history and the U.S. South.

Following the president’s presentation, a panel of four students discussed pathways to college completion, with an emphasis on supplemental instruction, tutoring and mentoring. A second panel of faculty and staff reviewed Coastal’s Complete College plan, including restructuring remedial course work to move students more quickly and successfully into college-level classes.

As part of the convocation, 21 employees were recognized for their service to the College.

Five years: Robin Bradshaw, Robin Flores, Caesar Grovner, Kathy Halliwell, Kathy Price, Patrick Stephenson, Elizabeth Waye. Ten years: Tyler Bagwell, Sandra Bunn, Shirley Melissa Canady, Judith Gift, Patsy Thomas. Fifteen years: Dr. Karen Hambright, Paula Porter, Wanda Rhyne, Ed Grueser. Twenty years: Katherine Berhow, Valeska Carter, Dawana Gibbs, Tom Saunders. Twenty-five years: Kimberly Leggett.
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Release Date: 8/14/2012
Source: College of Coastal Georgia

Media Contact:
John Cornell
O: 912.279.5703
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