Office of the President
Savannah State University
A Letter to the Campus Community from President Dozier
January 4, 2019
As we celebrate this New Year, it is with heavy heart that I announce today my intent to retire from the position of President of Savannah State University at the end of the fiscal year, June 30, 2019. This has been the most rewarding position of my career, leading and serving this historical university at such a time as this. These eight years as the President have been more gratifying because of each of you.
When I arrived I was embraced by faculty, staff, students and alumni who demonstrated their love for this institution. I met generations of families who had studied, worked and supported this university because of what it did for them and members of their families and their communities.
I learned the history, from the 30 years of leadership by the first President, Richard R. Wright, Sr., when Savannah State was Georgia Industrial College for Colored Youth. I read about the accomplishments, struggles and challenges while it transformed to Georgia State College, Savannah State College and now Savannah State University. Its picturesque setting and unique location adjacent to a waterway enabled the offering of niche degrees like marine sciences.
What a place where magic happens due to the synergy of teaching and learning, where roles are intertwined as students question and challenge and create while faculty expose them to research, scholarship and community engagement. What an environment where dual-enrolled adolescents, first-time freshmen and nontraditional students can learn side by side from junior and seasoned faculty and staff.
I am proud of all of our accomplishments and will highlight some successes during my tenure of which you should be proud of because it took our collective effort.
- Launched the Transformation and Growth campaign during SSU’s 125th anniversary, which to date has raised approximately $8 million for faculty development and student success initiatives.
- Created the Closing the Gap scholarship to help students in need of financial support in their last semester. Since its inception in 2011, 144 students have benefitted from $167,510 enabling them to graduate.
- Acquired $22.5 million in state funding to construct and open two new STEM buildings on and off campus, and $3.7 million for the upcoming renovation of Herty Hall.
- Established the SSU Board of Visitors to increase corporate and community support.
- Created mini grants to promote professional development and community engagement among faculty members.
- Purchased the property on Jasmine Ave. that now house our Division of Advancement and Trio Programs.
- Reactivated the Honors Program with over 70 students participating.
- Strengthened international education and global opportunities for faculty and students.
In the academic area, collectively we enhanced academic offerings including:
- After almost 40 years, reactivated the teacher education program and established the School of Teacher Education, which is now the College of Education offering the BSED degree in the areas of biology education, mathematics education, engineering and technology education, and middle grades education.
- Launched the Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies degree.
- Created our first online degree program, the Bachelor of Business Administration degree in management, and the Global Logistics and International Business major, which is the first of its kind in the state of Georgia to focus on both global logistics and international business.
- Established a new graduate degree in 2017, a master’s degree in mathematics, and, effective December 2018, reactivated the mechanical engineering technology degree program.
- This fiscal year we expanded the campus to the Coastal Georgia Center, where undergraduate and graduate programs are now offered in downtown Savannah. This semester we will offer SSU degree programs in Liberty County, beginning with the homeland security and emergency management degree at the Georgia Southern Liberty Center Campus.
Other priority areas include:
- Creating a one-stop shop for enrollment management service areas and hiring a senior administrator for enrollment management;
- Increasing funding for need-based scholarships;
- Completing activities of the current strategic plan, which ends in 2020;
- Continuing the implementation of Momentum Year and student success initiatives;
- Continuing to enhance campus safety and security initiatives; and
Restructuring athletics and completing the transition to NCAA Division II.
Your support is vital to the achievement of these priorities.
I will also spend the coming months saying “thank you” to the countless people who I have worked closely with and who have helped SSU become seriously impressive, including our many stakeholders and supporters.
I thank Governor Nathan Deal, the Board of Regents, and chancellors Erroll Davis, Hank Huckaby and Steve Wrigley for their commitment to public higher education, student success and their confidence in my leadership. I thank the General Assembly of the State of Georgia, especially the Savannah-Chatham delegation, for ensuring that our campus facilities and special projects are funded. I thank our SSU National Alumni Association, the SSU Foundation, the SSU Board of Visitors, the SSU Community Booster Club and all of our donors and stakeholders for their generosity and support.
Moreover, I extend my sincere thanks to each of you – the faculty, staff and administrators – who go above and beyond each and every day to ensure that we remain true to our mission and vision in ensuring student completion and success. Thank you!
To our students who are the reasons we all do what we do, I say thank you for choosing Savannah State University as your institution to matriculate and graduate. Thank you for your student engagement, leadership, and academic successes that enhance the reputation of this great university. You are the reason that I love higher education as we work collectively toward ensuring that your future as graduates will be successful as you enroll in graduate programs and enter the workforce prepared to be professionals in your chosen careers. Your success is evident around this state, nation and world as we hear of the many accomplishments and successes of our graduates.
I am energized by the future of this great university, especially our students. I look forward to the growth and success of each department and each of you in your respective roles.
Thank you for your support during my tenure as president of Savannah State University. I will always be proud to have been the 13th President of this great place.
In the Spirit of One SSU -- Service, Strength and Unity -- Go Tigers!
Cheryl Davenport Dozier
Savannah State University, the oldest public historically black university in the State of Georgia, develops productive members of a global society through high quality instruction, scholarship, research, service and community involvement. The University fosters engaged learning and personal growth in a student-centered environment that celebrates the African American legacy while nurturing a diverse student body. Savannah State University offers graduate and undergraduate studies including nationally accredited programs in the liberal arts, the sciences and the professions.
Savannah State University will become the institution of choice in our region, where students maximize their potential in a nurturing environment that embraces social and intellectual diversity. The university will create an efficient, student-centered culture, responsive to the needs of its stakeholders, supportive of ideals and ethical verities, and loyal to its rich legacy and heritage.
Dr. Cheryl D. Dozier