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Clayton State inaugural Social Mobility Summit a “big success”

(June 27, 2024) - Clayton State University welcomed colleagues, external partners, faculty, staff, and guests from Georgia, Virginia, and even as far as California, to its serene campus for the institution’s inaugural Social Mobility Summit on Monday, June 17.

Event leaders gather for a photo at Clayton State University's inaugural Social Mobility Summit

Under the university’s new Strategic Plan, Transforming Today for Tomorrow, President Dr. Georj Lewis’ mission for Clayton State University is to transform it into the premier institution for social mobility in all of Georgia.

For the institution, upward Social Mobility is about meeting students where they are and affording them the opportunities and access to growth, such as increasing job prospects, earning a living wage, providing access to better healthcare, retirement benefits, and better housing options.

The Summit served as the institution’s newest initiative to promote that very mission, featuring guest speakers, a resource fair, academic and leadership panels, and discussions among attendees on what social mobility is and how to best support its growth at Clayton State.

Lewis believes the event was a success and expressed that, while the inaugural Summit was ending, the promotion of the university’s call to social mobility was only beginning.

To him, the real work starts now.

“All of this information and collective learning is great,” Lewis said. “But if we do nothing with all of this knowledge, we will have missed this opportunity.”

President Dr. Ellen J. Neufeldt of California State University San Marcos served as the event’s keynote speaker and applauded Clayton State University’s efforts to further promote social mobility both on its campus and in its community.

Neufeldt passionately spoke on her institution’s mission to push for greater social mobility and said the difference it makes in the life of a student and his or her family is truly indescribable.

She also described it as, simply, “the right thing to do” for the future of America’s workforce and economy.

“When I used to think about social mobility, I used to think only about graduation – you are far beyond that,” Neufeldt said. “Everybody can lead from where they are. We are going to set the example for what higher education should and must become, because it’s too important not to.”

Drs. Joshua Meddaugh and Don Stansberry served as co-chairs for the first-ever Summit and, like Pres. Lewis and Neufeldt, were excited by the turnout of the event.

Both are already prepared and set to lead the university’s second Social Mobility Summit in 2025 and are enthusiastic to see the progress Clayton State makes on its mission in just the first year of the new Strategic Plan.

"By convening leaders from education, industry, and policy, Clayton State's Social Mobility Summit took a crucial step toward breaking down barriers to social mobility,” Meddaugh said. “The energy and commitment I witnessed gives me great hope for expanding access and leveling the playing field for all students."

“Our first Social Mobility Summit was a success!” Stansberry said. “To be able to hear the commitment to addressing barriers and to improving the lives of others was empowering. Everything the planning team envisioned and more came to life during the Summit. We have set the bar high for future Social Mobility Summits, and we are up for the challenge. This is just the beginning.”

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