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Albany State President Portia Shields to Step Down At Year’s End

Atlanta — December 11, 2004

University System of Georgia Chancellor Thomas C. Meredith announced today that Albany State University President Dr. Portia Holmes Shields has informed him she will step down from her post, effective June 30, 2005.

Shields was named Albany State University’s first female president in 1996, when she joined the institution from Howard University, where she had held the position of dean of the School of Education and a number of faculty and adminisrative posts. She has served as the seventh president of the 101-year-old university for the past eight years.

“Dr. Shields has led Albany State through some extraordinarily challenging times, and provided oustanding leadership during her tenure,” Chancellor Meredith stated. “Her reach has extended far and wide on behalf of both the University and the University System, and we are extremely proud of her accomplishments. She is a true public servant who will be hard to replace.”

Upon her arrival at Albany State, Shields assumed the helm of an instituition that had been ravaged by flood waters from the Flint River, which consumed nearly two thirds of the 204-acre campus in 1994. She led the highly successful, $153 million flood-recovery program that has revitalized the Southwest Georgia institution’s physical plant and appearance. During the past eight years, the instituion also grew from approximately 3,100 students to its present enrollment of nearly 3,700 students.

Commenting on her tenure as president, Shields said: “With the support of the Albany State community, we have accomplished tremendous things during the last eight years. While saying goodbye is never easy, I am extremely pleased by the many positive programs and initiatives we have implemented at the University that will continue for years to come.

“The caliber of students we are producing is my proudest accomplishment,” she added. “They are the next generation of leaders – and the best ambassadors of the work being done at Albany State!”

Operating from her personal mission statement of “Students First,” Shields led Albany State to achieve the third-highest retention rate among the University System of Georgia’s 34 colleges and universities, which at 83 percent follows behind only Georgia Tech and the University of Georgia. Since the fall of 1996, the average SAT scores of incoming freshmen also jumped by more than 120 points.

Shields also has recruited the largest number of presidential scholars and honor students ever enrolled at Albany State, and added three new undergraduate programs at the institution during her tenure – bachelor’s programs in mass communication, criminal investigations and security studies, and forensic science. The new program in forensic science is the only such program in the state of Georgia.

Perhaps the president’s most notable achievement, however, is her success in raising funds and external support for the University. She was instrumental in securing an unprecedented $3-million donation from Georgia-born peforming artist Ray Charles in 2002, and procured more than $25 million in external grant funds in the following academic year.

ASU’s inclusion in lists of exemplary achievement and recognition also has expanded during Shield’s administration. The institution received unconditional reaffirmation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, and the Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs. Two of Albany State’s degree programs also gained their initial accreditation during Shield’s administration: the bachelor’s degree in social work and the master’s of public administration, which was accredited on its first attempt.

The university operates one of only 24 science, mathematics and engineering centers in the U.S. funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. It also is one of only four sites in Georgia to administer a Center for the Accomplished and Exemplary Teacher, a collaborative with the state’s Professional Standards Commission and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

Current and upcoming construction projects at the University include the federally funded $1-million Early Learning Center presently underway, and a $33-million public-private dormitory project planned to come on line in 2006. The institution’s $23.4 million Ray Charles Fine Arts Building also sits on the Board of Regents’ Major Capital Priority List to secure state funding. In addition, the University recently completed the contruction of a $7-million athletic stadium, where ASU’s nationally ranked NCAA Division II football team plays.

Chancellor Meredith will launch the search process to identify a replacement for President Shields in early 2005.

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