With Clayton State University celebrating its 40th Anniversary during the 2009/2010 Academic Year, it was only fitting that the Clayton State University Foundation take the occasion of the Apr. 17, 2010, President’s Gala to honor the Foundation’s founding trustees.
Themed, “Better Together,” the Gala was a celebration of campus and community, highlighted by special recognition for six of the original signers of the Foundation’s articles of incorporation in 1974… Harmon Born, H.M. “Mit” Bradford, S. Truett Cathy, Dr. Harry S. Downs, G. Robert “Bob” Oliver, and James “Jim” Wood, Jr. Also recognized for their legacy in the history of Clayton State were the three original signers who have since passed on; Charles S. Conklin, Dr. Ernest Dunbar, and Claude Whaley.
The evening also included remarks by Foundation Chair Starr Helms, Clayton State President Dr. Thomas J. “Tim” Hynes, Jr., and scholarship recipient Christina Phillips, and featured a video presentation on Clayton State student and faculty community engagement.
Born, who served as chairman of the board of the Foundation for its first 25 years of operation, was recognized by current Foundation Trustee Michael Gray, who noted that, in January 1996, the Foundation was joined by Ford Motor Company (in recognition of Born’s 50 years with Ford) in setting up an endowment in his name, which continues to provide annual scholarship funding to students at Clayton State University. To further express their appreciation, the Foundation and the University have also established the Harmon Born Servant Leadership Award which encourages others to live similar lives of service.
Chairman Helms acknowledged Bradford’s involvement with Clayton State, noting that it goes back to him being one of the earliest people to walk the current campus property, envisioning a college campus. As the appraiser engaged by the Board of Regents, and the owner of Forest Park Realty, he became Downs’ landlord when he rented space from which to operate while waiting on campus construction. During this time, Bradford and Downs grew accustomed to working together, so having him serve as a founding trustee, and serve on the Foundation board for 10 years, was an extension of the relationship they had previously forged.
Foundation Board member and former ARC Chairman Carl Rhodenizer recalled the contributions of Cathy, one of the region’s foremost businessmen and philanthropists, and the first recipient of the Harmon Born Servant Leadership award.
“Truett is known throughout the nation as a principled leader who values education. So much so that the University System of Georgia chose to honor him with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his strong support of higher education in Georgia through student scholarships both he and his corporation award annually,” said Rhodenizer. “In acknowledging his achievement, Regent Leeburn commented that, `Truett Cathy is a model of public service and the American values of faith, family and hard work.’”
Fittingly, Clayton State’s fourth president recalled Clayton State’s first president.
“Harry’s foresight in the creation of Clayton State is legendary. From site selection and negotiation, to campus development and design, and on to assembling a team of faculty and staff, Harry was involved every step of the way,” said Hynes. “As the founding president, he also hand-picked the people to serve as trustees to get the Foundation organized and off to a good start. He, along with many of those trustees, was instrumental in leading the campaign for Spivey Hall. Harry continues to care for Clayton State, and serves as a member of the Spivey Foundation Board of Trustees.”
Hynes in general expressed his great appreciation to everyone who attended, supported, and organized the Better Together dinner. He commended all the visionary leaders who organized the Foundation and brought so much early support to the development of Clayton State. He also had the chance to elaborate on recent achievements of Clayton State students, and the success of many programs and campus activities, and the strategic plans currently under development to chart the course for Clayton State’s future.
Past Foundation Chair Leonard Moreland introduced fellow past Foundation Chair Oliver to the audience, noting that, “Bob’s wisdom and guidance have been, and continue to be, invaluable to the Foundation.”
Oliver served on the Foundation Board of Trustees for nearly 30 years, and was the second chairman after Born. He continues to serve the Foundation as a manager of the CSU Foundation Real Estate I LLC, the entity responsible for the Laker Hall and the Student Activities Center.
The sole remaining original member of the Foundation Board was saved for last. Dr. Bryan Edwards, Vice President Emeritus of External Relations, introduced the longest-serving member of the founding trustees.
“Jim was a Clayton State advocate before we even existed,” he said of Wood. “Using the power of his pen, he wrote editorials in his newspaper in support of bringing a college to Clayton County.
Wood’s involvement with Clayton State is a family affair. His wife, Dr. Martha Wood – professor emerita of Mathematics -- established an endowment for faculty development. Once this endowment was successfully completed, Jim Wood established an endowment for the Jim Wood Speaker Series in the School of Business, a program that has brought a distinguished array of business leaders to campus to share their experience with students, faculty and staff.
The Gala was also an occasion for recalling the Foundation’s efforts in the area of scholarship for the University. In the Chairman’s Remarks, Helms noted that, “the Clayton State University Foundation makes the Honors Program possible, and has awarded $541,000 in scholarships to students in the Honors Program from 2002 through 2009. During that time frame, approximately a quarter million dollars more was provided to students in scholarships and awards.”
Phillips is the recipient of one of the scholarships awarded through the Foundation, specifically the J.E. Edmonds teacher education scholarship. She expressed her appreciation to those who contribute to the scholarship and to the Foundation. In attending Clayton State, she is fulfilling a life-long dream of teaching in middle grades education and to positively influence young minds.
The video presentation highlighted the ways in which students and faculty engage in community and civic activities. Among the features of the video were:
· The Foundation makes scholarship funding possible for students in the Honors Program. On the video, Honors student Matthew Shelnutt shared some of the activities of the Honor Student Association, which has a service leadership component, and talked about their blood drives and fund-raising for Noah’s Ark Foster Home and Animal Shelter.
· Dora Weir from the School of Nursing spoke of nursing students’ involvement with the Clayton County Health Department in scoliosis testing and Head Start physicals.
· Christopher Kodani from the Biology Department shared the rivers and stream research that his biology students conduct which is beneficial to the Henry County Stormwater Department and to the State of Georgia Department of Natural Resources.
· Student Tristan Santiago described his project in the Writing for Non-Profits Class which resulted in a grant request for the House of Dawn, a home for teenage mothers.
“Through the Foundation’s outreach efforts, the University is involved in regional Chambers of Commerce, and other civic and service organizations,” said Helms. “The Foundation is fortunate to receive financial support from individuals, alumni, corporations, and grants from private foundations – all part of the Better Together.”