Center for Leadership Excellence

Encouraging and supporting leadership development throughout the University System

2014-2015 ELI Scholars

Michael Butcher - College of Coastal Georgia
Photo of Michael Butcher

I am the Dean of Students at the College of Coastal Georgia. I was born and raised in western New York near Niagara Falls, NY. Prior to CCGA, I worked at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, AZ and the College of Charleston in Charleston, SC. I am participating in this program to learn more about leadership and management and how I can continue to translate it into helping others. I feel that I will benefit a great amount from hearing about the experiences of the ELI scholars. I believe that I can contribute perspectives and experience from different institutions.

My wife and I enjoy travelling and visiting family.

Andy Clark - Valdosta State University
Photo of Andy Clark

I am the Vice President for Enrollment, Marketing, and Communications. I joined VSU in 2011 as associate vice president for Enrollment Management. On July 1, 2014 I was named vice president for the newly formed division of Enrollment, Marketing, and Communications.

I provide campus-wide leadership in obtaining increased student enrollment and degree management. I also provide oversight in shaping the quality and diversity of VSU’s undergraduate and graduate student body.

Since my arrival at VSU, I have developed and implemented an admissions portal that assists with the recruitment of students, collaborated with the English Language Institute and Center for International Programs to broaden recruitment efforts in Asia, and created a Centralized Advising Center to improve students’ academic success.

In addition, I was instrumental in the development of the VSU’s Pathways Program, which produced articulation agreements for increased transfer of students from tow-year and technical college in Georgia and North Florida.

Jordan Cofer - Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College
Photo of Jordan Cofer

I am originally from Missouri. I received my MA from Virginia Tech and Ph.D. from Texas Tech. I am the Department Head for the Literature and Languages Department at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton. I am participating in this program because it is a unique opportunity to provide me with accelerated leadership experience. I am so excited to learn from other program participants and to take part in this program. I feel so flattered to have been selected.

I am married with a dog. My wife and I try to stay active, which is hard in Tifton because it is a small town. We have family all over the country, so we end up traveling a lot, which is fun, but can be burdensome. I enjoy running and I often run on campus, which is great because students will encourage me when I’m tired. I also enjoy scholarship and research—I just published my first book and I’m really proud of that. I enjoy reading and I’ve just started to audit a studio painting class, but I’m pretty terrible, thus far.

Tracey Cook - University System of Georgia
Photo of Tracey Cook

Tracey Cook serves as the Associate Vice Chancellor for Fiscal Affairs/Budget Director for the University System of Georgia. The mission of the Office of Fiscal Affairs is to serve the Chancellor, the Board of Regents and the University System of Georgia by providing leadership on fiscal policy, budgeting, and financial practices and procedures. The Budget Office supports the University System’s highest priorities by identifying, projecting, allocating, and managing the central resources available for operating and capital expenditures.

Tracey brings extensive experience and effective leadership to this position. She has over 20 years of experience in the higher education sector. Prior to joining the University System of Office, she worked as an auditor for KPMG, controller at Morehouse College and vice president for fiscal affairs at Atlanta Metropolitan College. Tracey has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Accounting from the State University of New York (SUNY) at Albany and a Master of Business Administration Degree, with a concentration in Finance, from Georgia State University. Tracey has also earned the distinction of Certified Public Accountant (CPA).

Christopher Curtis - Armstrong State University
Photo of Christopher Curtis

Dr. Christopher Curtis serves as Department Head for the Department of History at Armstrong State University. He held a similar office for six years at Claflin University in Orangeburg, South Carolina. Prior to that, Dr. Curtis was a member of the history faculty at Iowa State University and the Director of Graduate program there. He received a B.A. in History for the University of South Carolina, an M.A. from Virginia Tech, and his PhD. from Emory University. Before graduate school, he served as an Infantry Officer in the United States Marine Corps. Dr. Curtis is the author of Jefferson’s Freeholders and the Politics of Ownership in the Old Dominion (Cambridge University Press: 2012) and several articles and essays on early American law and the American South.

Marilyn De LaRoche - Georgia State University
Photo of Marilyn De LaRoche

Dr. De LaRoche is the Director of University Housing. She has over 24 years of experience in residential housing as well as several years of experience in protective services. Dr. De LaRoche received her Bachelor of Science in Home Economics with emphasis in Business from the University of Missouri Columbia in Columbia, Missouri. She received her Master of Arts in Psychological Counseling from Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, and her Master of Science in Education in Student Personnel from Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois. Her Doctorate of Education in Higher Education Management was received from the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia. From the University of Georgia, Dr. De LaRoche also received an International Certification on Comparative Higher Education having completed studies at the Center for Higher Education Policy Studies, the Netherlands, and Universities in both Melbourne and Sydney, Australia. In addition, Dr. De LaRoche is a nationally Certified Educational Facilities Professional through APPA, the Association of Higher Education Facilities Officers. At Georgia State University, Dr. De LaRoche currently serves as a member of the Vice President of Student Affairs senior leadership team; the University Crisis Team; the Safety and Security committee; and the Enrollment Management Group.

William “Bill” Doerr - Georgia College & State University
Photo of William “Bill” Doerr

I am Georgia College’s first associate vice president for development and alumni relations. I most recently served as senior director of institutional advancement at High Point University in High Point, N.C. I have served both private and public universities in North Carolina and Georgia, including Georgia State University in Atlanta.

I earned an Associates degree in music at Andrew College in Cuthbert, Ga.; a Bachelor’s degree in political science at High Point University; and a Master’s degree in public administration at Columbus State University in Columbus, Ga.

Karin Elliott - University System Office
Photo of Karin Elliott

I serve as the Associate Vice Chancellor for Total Rewards. I am responsible for the strategic plan design and administration of all system-wide benefit programs for faculty, staff and retirees. Additionally, I provide guidance and assistance to the human resources departments of all 30 institutions of the USG.

Tim Floyd - Georgia Highlands College
Photo of Tim Floyd

Dr. Floyd has a long history in the educational field. He was originally hired at Georgia Highlands (then Floyd College) in 1989 as an Instructor of Mathematics. He has served in various capacities at the college over the years, including Director of Institutional Effectiveness and chair of the Academic Success Division. He has also held positions at Georgia Northwestern Technical College (then Coosa Valley Technical College) and Rockmart High School. Dr. Floyd earned his Doctor of Education degree in Higher Education Administration from the University of Alabama.

David Fuller - Middle Georgia State College
Photo of David Fuller

Dr. David P. Fuller is Professor and Dean in the School of Education at Middle Georgia State College. Dr. Fuller earned a Ph.D. in Special Education from Southern University, focusing on the education of students with severe disabilities. He has over 30 years of experience in the field of education which has included teaching (K-12 and higher education), consulting, and program evaluation.

Michelle Furlong - Clayton State University
Photo of Michelle Furlong

Dr. Furlong received her B.S. in Biology from Georgia State University in 1994 and her Ph.D. in Microbiology from the University of Georgia in 2000. She joined Clayton State University in 2000 as an assistant professor of Biology. She is currently a full professor and has been the Chair of the Department of Natural Sciences since Fall 2007. She teaches Introductory Microbiology, Microbiology for Health Sciences, Biology, Biocomputing, Microbial Ecology, and Applied and Environmental Microbiology. She mentors undergraduate research projects related to microbial ecology and environmental microbiology. While her administrative duties keep her very busy, she sincerely enjoys teaching undergraduate students in the classroom, laboratory and in the field. Dr. Furlong advises Biology majors and post baccalaureate students. Her area of advising specialty is Pre Veterinary Medicine.

Varghese George - Georgia Regents University
Photo of Varghese George

Dr. Varghese George joined the Georgia Regents University in 2005 as Professor and Chair of the Department of Biostatistics & Epidemiology. Dr. George has a well-established track record of methodological and collaborative research in Biostatistics, Statistical Genetics and Genetic Epidemiology, which started with his doctorate in Statistics from the University of Missouri-Columbia followed by his post-doctoral fellowship in Statistical Genetics at the Louisiana State University Medical Center in New Orleans under Professor Robert Elston. He continued his career as faculty in the Department of Biometry and Genetics at LSUMC, in the Division of Biostatistics at the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW), and in the Department of Biostatistics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).

Steven Girardot - Georgia Institute of Technology
Photo of Steven Girardot

I am the Associate Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education. While I was born in Nashville, TN, I grew up in Atlanta and currently live in the Brookhaven area. I went to GT for my undergraduate (Chemical Engineering) and graduate (Chemistry) degrees, and I earned my PhD in Chemistry and an MPH in Epidemiology from Emory University. I have held a number of administrative positions at GT, primarily in the areas of student success, transition, and retention, and have experience in both student and academic affairs. I also enjoy teaching when I can make the time, and I typically teach first-year chemistry.

I am excited about participating in this program, and feel that I can offer many perspectives to the conversation, having “grown up” academically in the USG and having held many different roles (student, grad student, faculty, administrator). Participating in the ELI program comes at an opportune time as I begin to strengthen and develop the necessary leadership competencies I need in order to grow in my current position as well as prepare to advance to the next level.

My hobbies include running (I have done a few half marathons and am considering a marathon next year), tennis, and eating out (which is part of why I run!). I also have two Boston Terriers (Pete and Oscar) who are quite spoiled.

Lynda Goodfellow - Georgia State University
Photo of Lynda Goodfellow

Lynda Thomas Goodfellow, Ed.D, RRT, AE-C, FAARC is a Professor of Respiratory Therapy and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs for the Lewis School of Nursing and Health Professions at Georgia State University. Dr. Goodfellow received her doctorate in Adult Education from the University of Georgia and BS from the Medical College of Georgia.

Her area of research includes chronic respiratory disease management and education, particularly as it relates to asthma, tuberculosis, tobacco education, and education of respiratory care professionals. Dr. Goodfellow has received intramural awards, a clinical investigator award from the American Lung Association for support on asthma research for adolescent children with asthma in the inner city, and has been funded through the NIH as a member of the National Tuberculosis Curriculum Consortium. Her publications include articles in the Journal of Allied Health, Respiratory Care, Journal of American Nursing, North American Clinics, and Respiratory Care Education Annual.

John Head - University of West Georgia
Photo of John Head

Dr. John D. Head is the Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management. He came to the University of West Georgia in 2012 and is responsible for the coordination of enrollment and retention efforts at the university.

Dr. Head has worked in higher education for over 23 years. Prior to coming to UWG, he served as the Vice President of Enrollment Management at Shorter University. Dr. Head also has worked as the Dean of Students, Dean of Institutional Advancement and Director of Admissions at Tennessee Wesleyan College. He began his career in higher education as the Associate Director of Admissions at Reinhardt College.

Dr. Head earned the Doctor of Education degree with an emphasis in Higher Education Administration from the University of Tennessee in 2005. He also earned a Masters of Mass Communication degree from the University of Georgia in 1989, and the Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communications from Shorter College in 1987.

Michael S. Heard - Atlanta Metropolitan State College
Photo of Michael S. Heard

I am the Vice President for Academic Affairs. This experience will afford me the opportunity to gain insight into the roles and responsibilities of seasoned administrators. Participation in this program will provide increased opportunities to observe and learn how successful academicians approach problem solving and decision-making from a state and global perspective. I desire to increase my understanding and appreciation of the educational needs and priorities outside my College, while recognizing how important our institution is in the development of an engaged citizenry. I enjoy reading, traveling and working in the community.

Tony Hendrix - South Georgia State College
Photo of Tony Hendrix

I am Interim Associate Director of Assessment at South Georgia State College in Douglas, Georgia. I hope to become the full-time director of assessment at SGSC. My doctoral degree is in counseling psychology. I was in the counseling field until I began teaching psychology and sociology at Waycross College in 1989. From 1998-2006, I was Division Chair of Natural and Social Sciences at Waycross College. I was Interim Vice President in Charge of the Library from 2005-2006. From 2006-2010, I served as Division Chair of faculty. In 2013 Waycross College and South Georgia College consolidated. From January-July 2014 I was Interim Division Chair of Business and Social Sciences at South Georgia State College in Douglas.

My wife, Dina, teaches Spanish at Pierce County High School. We have one son who is now in his second year of medical school at Mercer University. My hobbies include reading, traveling, and photography. I carry a camera everywhere I go and getting out and taking photographs makes me happy. I enjoy being a teacher and an administrator and I enjoy helping people and working with people. I also take pleasure in being a student and learning. So, I am looking forward to participating in and learning from the Executive Leadership Institute Program.

Peter Higgins - Gordon State College
Photo of Peter Higgins

Mr. Peter Higgins has been the Director of Student Success at Gordon State College since August 2008. He was born in Boston, MA, went to high school in North Carolina, earned an MA in American Literature at Memphis State University (now the University of Memphis), and did graduate work at the University of Tennessee. In addition to his duties as Director of Student Success, Mr. Higgins also teaches English composition classes at Gordon and was the Faculty Fellow in Residence for the 2011-2012 academic year.

Sharon Hixon - Dalton State College
Photo of Sharon Hixon

I am Dean, School of Education at Dalton State College. I have been working at DSC since 1998. I took a circuitous route to this position. I started as a director of a day care program when I first graduated with my undergraduate degree in ECE. I then moved on to teach 1st and 2nd grade in Baltimore City Schools and 4th grade at a private school in Frederick, Maryland. While teaching at the private school, I also taught Learning Support Reading classes at the local community college. I then came to DSC to teach Learning Support Reading full time. Eventually, I moved to the SoE and was a faculty member for several years.

My hobbies include hiking, gardening, and touring the US on the back of a Honda Goldwing.

Kimberly Holmes - Savannah State University
Photo of Kimberly Holmes

I currently serve as Associate Provost, Associate VP for Academic Affairs, and Associate Professor of Public Administration at Savannah State University. I have been in this role for nearly two years. Prior to that, I served in a number of progressive roles, including Associate VP for Inclusion and Innovation at Kentucky State University. Prior to that I served as Assistant Dean of Student Enrollment in the School of Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Texas at Dallas. I started my professional career as a product systems engineer at Delco Electronics Corporation, then a subsidiary of General Motors in Kokomo, IN, many years ago. I have two engineering degrees and a Ph.D. in Public Affairs (public policy and public administration).

C. Douglas Johnson - Georgia Gwinnett College
Photo of C. Douglas Johnson

Dr. C. Douglas Johnson is a Professor of Leadership and Management at Georgia Gwinnett College (GGC), where he teaches courses such as Organizational Behavior, Leadership in 21st Century Organizations and the Essentials of Leadership. As a first-generation college student, he received his B.S. in accounting from Clemson University, an MBA in human resources from the University of Connecticut, and a M.S. and Ph.D. in industrial/organizational psychology from the University of Georgia.

In addition to his academic experience, he has held applied human resource practitioner and consultant positions with organizations such as General Electric, PeopleSoft, IBM, Michelin North America and United Technologies Corporation. He enjoys spending time with his family, writing poetry and short stories, creating word search puzzles and listening to gospel music.

Thomas Miles - Georgia College & State University
Photo of Thomas Miles

Since 2004, Thomas D. Miles, Sr. has served as the Director of Campus Life at Georgia College & State University. His career expands 27 years in the student affairs profession. He is currently completing 21 years at Georgia College & State University. The remainder of his career was spent at Lander University, Albright College and Western Kentucky University. He spent over 17 years working in University Housing managing facilities, student discipline, residence education, and multi-million dollar budgets. As an Associate Dean of Students, he made his way into the student activities realm. Today, he oversees Student Center Operations, Fraternity and Sorority Life, Recreational Sports, Community Engagement, Student Involvement and Student Organizations. Tom received his B.S. Education in Mathematics from Georgia Southern University (1987), and a Master of Public Administration from Georgia College & State University (1991). He earned his Ph.D. in Adult Education from The University of Georgia (2013), focusing his research on work-life philosophy and attrition of student affairs professionals.

Tom enjoys spending time in the local community at annual service events, such as MLK, Jr. Day of Service and the Potato Drop. He also serves on the Board of Directors of the Milledgeville Film Festival.

Thomas Mote - University of Georgia
Photo of Thomas Mote

I am the head of the Department of Geography at the University of Georgia, where I have spent the past 20 years. Prior to Athens, I lived in various cities across the Midwest. I was trained as a climatologist, and much of my non-administrative work is focused on climate change, particularly in Polar Regions like Greenland. I am eager to discover how I can become a more effective department leader at UGA, and how to productively mentor others who may be tapped to accept leadership roles.

My wife is employed by the Georgia Center for Assessment at UGA; we have an older son at UGA and a younger son in middle school.

Carmine Palumbo - East Georgia State College
Photo of Carmine Palumbo

Dr. Carmine D. Palumbo is the Dean of the Division of Humanities. Dr. Palumbo served as the Chair of the Division of Humanities at EGSC since 2007, and was formerly the Chair of the Division of Humanities at Middle Georgia College in Cochran from 2001-07. A native of Fredericksburg, Virginia, he attended the Virginia Military Institute before earning his bachelor’s degree in English from Greensboro College in Greensboro, North Carolina. He earned his Master of Arts degree, also in English, from Virginia Tech, in Blacksburg, VA. He earned his Ph.D. in American Literature and Folklore was earned at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

Dr. Palumbo entered the University System of Georgia as an Assistant Professor of English at Middle Georgia College in 1998. In addition to his teaching and administrative duties, Palumbo also directs EGSC’s Costa Rica program, a study abroad experience for EGSC students to travel to the University of Georgia’s campus in San Luis, Costa Rica, and other locations in the country. He has been leading this annual trip since 2009. Palumbo was also recently appointed to lead a Study Abroad Consortium comprised of students and faculty members of four university system institutions in summer of 2015.

Palumbo resides in Swainsboro with his wife Jessica Newberry Palumbo and their daughter Virginia.

Susan Paraska - Kennesaw State University
Photo of Susan Paraska

I am the Director of Planning, Policy, and Performance at Kennesaw State University, and I have also had the honor to serve at Georgia Institute of Technology. My contribution to the ELI program is to learn as much as I can in order to give back to those I work with and for.

I’ve spent most of my childhood in California and Florida and a few places in between. I enjoy ultrarunning and living well by growing my own food and also preparing my own food. We have two adopted dogs and one bee hive that help to round us out.

James Pete - Georgia Institute of Technology
Photo of James Pete

A twenty-one year higher education information technology professional, James Pete is the Sr. Director of the Georgia Tech Information Technology Group (‘ITG’). In this role, he is responsible for the overall leadership and management of the Campus Services division-wide information technology functions and leads the campus card and residential network service organizations. The ITG team supports ten distinct business units with a focus of providing best-in-class technology and support solutions that enables their customers to advance and evolve their service offerings. James works as a change agent with a strong commitment to business process and customer service innovation. During his tenure, the ITG team has received multiple awards from the Georgia Tech campus community and professional associations for their change efforts.

James was elected and served two consecutive terms as a Board Member for the National Association of Campus Card Association (‘NACCU’) from 2008-2014. During his Board tenure, he served in multiple NACCU officer roles to include President, Treasurer, and the 2012 Annual Conference Program Chair. He volunteers for the RisingSeniors Foundation (Atlanta, GA) where he serves as the Director of Business/Game Day Operations. The RisingSeniors Foundation’s mission is to ‘Inspire student athletes to dominate the 5th Quarter’ – that is life after sports. The Foundation annually hosts the Georgia Junior Bowl, a nationally televised, all-star high school football game. James is also a soccer coach for the Southern Soccer Academy (Douglasville, GA).

James holds a Master of Business Administration in Strategic Management and a Bachelor of Business Administration; both from Temple University (Philadelphia, PA). He previously held information technology positions at his Alma Mater and Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, MD).

Berlethia Pitts - Fort Valley State University
Photo of Berlethia Pitts

Berlethia J. Pitts, a native of the Perry Hill Community of Seneca, South Carolina, is a tenured Associate Professor of English and African American and Diaspora Studies and serves as the Chairperson of the Department of English and Foreign Languages at Fort Valley State University. She has been employed at FVSU since August 2003 and has previously served as Interim Chair of the Department of English and Foreign Languages as well as Interim Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Berlethia is the “2008 FVSU John W. Davison Teacher of the Year.” Her research interests focus concurrently on issues related to education, African-centered and culturally relevant pedagogy; African American history and literature; and American and English Literature. She has co-authored several papers and journal articles. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism with a concentration in Public Relation from the University of Georgia; her Masters’ degrees from Clemson University in English and Temple University in African American Studies, respectively. She earned her Doctorate degree in African American Studies at Temple University. She often serves as a motivational or occasion/event speaker.

She is an active member of Ebenezer Baptist Church of Seneca, South Carolina and New Hope International Church of Fort Valley, Georgia and several professional and civic organizations.

Jon Preston - Kennesaw State University
Photo of Jon Preston

My name is Jon Preston, and I’m the Department Chair of Software Engineering and Game Development at Kennesaw State University (formerly SPSU). I have taught in the USG since 1994 at Georgia Tech, Clayton State, SPSU, and KSU. The sessions of the ELI have been great so far, and I’m looking forward to our 360 review feedback. I’ve had the benefit of being mentored by faculty and administrators throughout my USG career, and I’m interested in learning how I can develop leadership skills so I can benefit and mentor others. I enjoy hiking, camping, and traveling with my family.

Deborah Prosser - University of North Georgia
Photo of Deborah Prosser

I serve as Dean of Libraries at the University of North Georgia. I have a Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of Pennsylvania and was a professor in upstate NY before moving to GA and transitioning into academic library administration. I look forward to working with and learning from my colleagues around the state. I am delighted and grateful to participate in ELI, and my career goals include serving more widely beyond the libraries.

My hobbies include antiques, travel, reading, and playing ukulele.

Deanna Radford - Darton State College
Photo of Deanna Radford

Dr. Deanna Radford is the Interim Dean of Nursing for Darton State College. She has 20 years experience as a registered nurse and 10 years experience in nursing education. Dr. Radford received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing and Master of Science in Nursing from California State University, Dominguez Hills and a Ph.D. in Nursing from University of Phoenix. In addition, she is credentialed as a Certified Nurse Educator (CNE) from the National League for Nursing. Deanna is an assistant professor teaching in a variety of nursing courses as well as the first year experience course for incoming freshman. Online teaching and learning is her research focus.

Stuart Rayfield - Columbus State University
Photo of Stuart Rayfield

I am currently serving as the Director for the Servant Leadership Program at Columbus State University. I am originally from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, but have lived outside of Alabama for over 20 years, primarily in Tennessee and Georgia. I am thrilled to be participating in this program because I am at the point in my current position where I need a new challenge and I believe this program will not only stretch and challenge me but will also enable me to create a new path for my career so that I can best serve CSU. Because I teach in leadership at CSU, I also think this program will serve as a great model for what I might bring back to CSU and implement in the classroom. I will be able to contribute to this program my unique perspective - as we have finished the first two sessions, I think we will all bring a unique perspective to the table and this is probably the most valuable contribution we can all make. I look forward to learning more from each of you and getting to know more about you and your institutions. I am married and have two girls, Vivian (9) and Celia (7). I love to spend time with my family and friends, travel and read.

Kenneth Reaves - Georgia Highlands College
Photo of Kenneth Reaves

I have been a Campus Dean for Georgia Highlands College for four years. I had the opportunity of bringing the Douglasville Campus on line, later moving to the larger Marietta Campus. I also have over 15 years experience in Human Resources Management with a MPA in Public Personnel Management. I am very active in the community with participation in Kiwanis, United Way Advisory Board, past Douglas County Chamber Governmental Affairs Committee member and the current Cobb Educational Consortium.

I have worked extensively with, and have a passion for, the African American male initiative, or specifically, Brother 2 Brother at Georgia Highlands College. I have championed this initiative and worked closely with the students always striving for their success during the past four years. I enjoy interacting with people and the challenge of mentoring and coaching. I would describe myself as a person that focuses on building relationships, is results oriented and a problem solver.

I have been married to my wife Sherry for 23 years and have two teenage sons, Christopher, 19 and Brandon, 17.

Tom Reichert - University of Georgia
Photo of Tom Reichert

I’m a Department Head in Advertising & Public Relations. We have 26 faculty members and 800 students. We’ve been in Athens for 10 years. I was a faculty member at University of North Texas and Alabama before moving here. Last year I was an SEC admistrative fellow with a focus on development.

I have two boys, a patient wife, and like to run. We all strive to be better at what we do which explains my participation in ELI.

Matthew Robison - Georgia Perimeter College
Photo of Matthew Robison

Dr. Matthew K. Robison serves as Dean of Students at Georgia Perimeter College’s Dunwoody Campus. In this role, Dr. Robison leads the day-to-day operations of the Dunwoody Campus and serves as the campus’s chief conduct, crisis, and student affairs officer. Before coming to GPC, Dr. Robison worked as Assistant Dean of Students at Georgia State University. While at GSU, Dr. Robison supervised the areas of Greek Life, Intercultural Relations, New Student Orientation, Parent Relations and Student Organizations; in addition, Dr. Robison served as campus judicial officer, adjudicating numerous student conduct cases. Dr. Robison has also worked at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Services in Boston, MA as the Director of Student Activities and New Student Orientation and at St. John’s University in New York, NY in the areas of Residence Life and Student Activities. Dr. Robison holds an Associate’s degree from Itawamba Community College, a Bachelor’s degree from Mississippi State University, and a Master’s degree from New York University. He received his Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from Georgia State University. As a critical qualitative scholar, Dr. Robison is guided by the core principles of social justice and the betterment of society for the individuals that have been historically oppressed, discriminated against, and disenfranchised. Outside of work, Dr. Robison is involved in various charities and non-profit organizations. He currently serves as Immediate Past Chair of the Board for the Georgia Equality Foundation and is on the planning board for both the Georgia Safe Schools Coalition and the Georgia GSA Summit Steering Committee.

William “Joey” Smith - University of West Georgia
Photo of William “Joey” Smith

I’m an associate professor of economics and chair of the economics department. Until recently, I directed the Center for Business and Economics Research, which is a service and information arm of the department of economics and of the Richards College of Business. As director of the CBER, I provided information on the regional economy at the annual UWG Fall Forecasting Breakfast and through the Quarterly Updates. Formerly, I worked for the Fiscal Research Center, a research arm of the Georgia State Legislature that is located at Georgia State University. I worked at GSU for 10 years before starting at UWG.

I have worked in a lot of different jobs in several industries…farming, manufacturing, construction, auto repair. Having grown up in a family of modest means, I never passed up a paying job.

My wife, Cathy and I have two children, Alex Smith and Erin Smith. Alex is finishing his masters in economics at Georgia State University. Erin is finishing her undergraduate degree in journalism at the University of Georgia.

Vanessa Snavely - Georgia Gwinnett College
Photo of Vanessa Snavely

Vanessa D. Snavely joined the University System of Georgia in 2002 at the Medical College of Georgia and later joined Georgia Gwinnett College in 2011 where she currently serves as the Assistant Controller. She is responsible for Financial Reporting, Budgeting, Accounting Services and Student Accounts. She holds a MBA from Augusta State University and an MSA from Southern Polytechnic State University.

Jeffrey Underwood - Georgia Southern University
Photo of Jeffrey Underwood

I am the Chair of the Department of Geology and Geography at Georgia Southern University. Formerly, I was the Director of the Nevada State Climate Office at the University of Nevada. I still teach courses in meteorology and climatology and conducts research related to cloud physics and atmospheric electricity. The majority of my research takes place at field sites in California and in northern Italy.

German Vargas - Coastal College of Georgia
Photo of German Vargas

Dr. German Vargas, has been teaching at the collegiate level for more than 13 years, and currently serves as Chair of the Department of Mathematics at the College of Coastal Georgia. He teaches courses ranging from developmental Math to upper division courses in the B.S. in Mathematics program at CCGA.

In 2011 he was a key participant in the Complete College America grant initiative that funded 4 institutions in the University System of Georgia to enhance the success rates in developmental programs by incorporating technology and redesigned models of instruction. He has led a department heavily vested in innovating and redesigning Learning Support curriculum and instruction in order to increase retention, progression and graduation.

As a result of these efforts, in January 2013, Dr. German Vargas was appointed by the University System of Georgia, to serve as a member of the statewide Task Force on the Role of Mathematics in College Completion. The task force was comprised of eight Mathematics leaders from the most influential schools in Georgia, such as Georgia Tech and UGA, and was led by senior administrators from the USG and nationally renowned consultants including Uri Treisman. Due to his exemplary work on the Task Force, and the demonstrated commitment and progressiveness of his department, he was appointed by the University System of Georgia as chair of the Ad Hoc Steering Committee.

His work as chair of the Ad Hoc Committee culminated in January 2014 when the implementation plan received full endorsement by the ACMS and became the living document that is guiding the transformation of Mathematics education throughout the USG.

Dr. Vargas is currently the Chair of the Academic Advisory Committee on Mathematical Subjects (ACMS) and is the leader of several initiatives including the transformation at scale to adopt open educational resources in Mathematics courses, as part of the Affordable Learning Georgia efforts. In the past he has also assisted the Department of Education (GaDOE) aligning the Georgia Standards to the National Common Core Standards for the area of statistics, and has been part of a team conducting a precision review of the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards.

He is a key member of the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) Mathematics and Science Partnership Program in Glynn county, and he now participates in the formerly know K-12 Vertical Mathematics Meeting of the Glynn County School System (now called K-College), which exemplifies his concerted efforts to transform Mathematics education at all levels.

Richard Hadley Williams - Albany State University
Photo of Richard Hadley Williams

I am a tenured Professor in the Department of Nursing and Health Human Performance in the College of Health and Science Professions and Director of Athletics at. A native of Thomasville, GA, I received my Bachelors, Masters, and Doctorate in Kinesiology-Muscle Physiology from the University of Georgia. I was a FIRST post-doctoral fellow of Emory University’s School of Medicine and Rollins School of Public Health, and served as Department Chair; lectured; instructed; and/or preformed empirical research at various Historically Black Colleges and Universities, catastrophic hospitals, major research-one institutions, and medical universities (University of Georgia, Shepard Hospital, Emory University, Morehouse College, and Langston University).

Athletically, I administer an athletic program that has captured a myriad of national, regional and conference academic accolades and athletic championships. Likewise, I have been effective in securing private bequests, collaborative athletic ventures, and fundraising initiatives.

Brian Wooten - Kennesaw State University
Photo of Brian Wooten

Brian M. Wooten is Kennesaw State University’s (KSU) first Executive Director for Community Engagement. A tenured member of the faculty, Wooten teaches in KSU’s Leadership studies program. Wooten began his career at KSU in December 1994 serving as the Coordinator of Student Activities in the Student Life Center. Most recently, he served as the Inaugural Director of KSU’s Center for Student Leadership (CSL) building the area from a one-person unit to an expansive 12- person Center that offers an array of programs and services to KSU students.

As a tenured faculty member, Wooten is active in a number of professional organizations and served as the Chair of the Board of Directors for the National Association for Campus Activities (NACA). He has published work in various magazines and journals including a chapter entitled “Integration of Peer Leadership in the Co-Curricular experience” for Josey-Bass’s monograph on student engagement published in spring 2012. He regularly presents educational sessions, provides trainings and speaks on various aspects of his work in leadership, community engagement and student success. Wooten has served as a guest lecturer for Universities in Mumbai, India; Cape Coast, Ghana West Africa, and in Stellenbosch, South Africa. He had the fortune of speaking at the South African Semboka held at Stellenbosch University sharing the stage with the Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Wooten has been honored with KSU First-Year Advocate award, the University College’s Service Award, and named the George Beggs Advisor of the Year.

Paulos Yohannes - Georgia Perimeter College
Photo of Paulos Yohannes

I am a Professor of Chemistry and Dean of Science at Georgia Perimeter College (GPC). I have been with GPC since 1992. I also serve as Academic Dean for the Newton Campus of GPC. I was born in Eritrea by the Red Sea. I received my B. Pharm. (Pharmacy) from Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia and my PhD (Chemistry) from the University of Kansas. I did my postdoctoral work at Emory University. I spent my sabbatical at the School of Pharmacy of Mercer University, teaching and research on Protein Drug Formulation. I am participating in this program to enhance my skills in my leadership role and become more effective.

My wife is employed as an accountant at Morehouse School of Medicine. Together we have four children. My older son is at the University of Pittsburgh and my daughter is at UGA. The younger ones are in high school.