Watkins Named Interim President at East Georgia College
Atlanta — June 25, 2002
University System of Georgia Chancellor Thomas C. Meredith announced today that he has appointed Dr. J. Foster Watkins, a professor of educational leadership and higher education at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, as interim president of East Georgia College, in Swainsboro, Ga.
East Georgia College is a two-year, commuter institution annually serving approximately 1,400 academic students in a rural, 14-county region. In addition to its Emanuel County campus, the college has off-campus centers and cooperative programs in Statesboro, Hinesville and Louisville, Ga.
Watkins will begin his appointment as interim president of East Georgia College on July 1. He will serve in that capacity until a new president is named for the institution at the conclusion of a national search. He will replace Dr. Jeremiah J. Ashcroft, who has served as president of the college since 1993. Ashcroft recently announced that he has accepted an invitation to become the founding president of Southern Catholic College, scheduled to open in 2003, in Dawson County, Ga.
In addition to his role as a professor at UAB, Watkins has served since 1998 as coordinator of the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Administrative Internship Program and coordinator of the School of Education’s off-campus programs in Jasper and Cullman, Ala. For the first year after his arrival at UAB in 1997, the Alabama native served in dual positions: as assistant provost for two-year college affairs and president of UAB Walker College, a separately accredited, associate-degree-granting institution of approximately 1,000 students.
For 14 years, beginning in 1983, Watkins was president of Gainesville College in Gainesville, Ga., a two-year college in the University System of Georgia. While there, he was recognized by his colleagues in the American Association of Community and Junior Colleges’ Community College Leadership Program as an outstanding chief executive officer in Georgia.
“Foster brings to this position a wide range of experience and a long-term prior relationship with the University System of Georgia,” said Chancellor Meredith, upon announcing his appointment. “I am certain that he will serve East Georgia College well.”
Prior to his appointment at Gainesville College, Watkins held a variety of positions at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, including director of the Consortium for Overseas Student Teaching (1982-83); professor and head of the Area of Curriculum and Instruction (1978-83); executive secretary of the Alabama Department of Elementary School Principals (1977-82); chair of programs in administration and planning (1976-78); professor of administration and higher education (1976-83); and interim head of the Area of Administration and Higher Education (1976-77).
In the early 1970s, Watkins was a member of the education faculty at Auburn University, where he served as associate dean for instruction and coordinator of graduate study (1972-76); assistant dean of the School of Education (1970-72); and associate director of the Auburn Center for Problems Occasioned by the Desegregation of Schools (1969-70). The latter position was a joint appointment with the Southeastern
Educational Laboratory, for whom Watkins previously had coordinated school-improvement initiatives in six Alabama school systems (1968-69) and served as director of the Auburn Component (1967-68).
Before that, Watkins was the director of research for the Regional Curriculum Project, a six-state study of the curriculum leadership role of state departments of education administered by the Georgia Department of Education on behalf of a U.S. Office of Education Title V Project.
He also spent several years teaching advanced math and trigonometry at Baker High School in Columbus, Ga., where he was assistant principal for pupil personnel services, a counselor and assistant coach.
Watkins holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial and systems engineering from Georgia Tech and master’s and doctoral degrees in educational leadership from Auburn University. In addition, he did post-doctoral work on the administration of higher education at both Auburn University and the University of Alabama.
He and his wife, Janice, have two grown children, Brad and Sally.