On April 5, the Board of Regents officially named Dr. Jann Luciana Joseph as the new president of Georgia Gwinnett College. Dr. Joseph will begin her presidency on July 1.
“The path of my career in higher education intersects perfectly with the vision and goals GGC has for the future,” Dr. Joseph said. “My background and values also fit with the culture and priorities of the institution from the Board of Regents to the faculty, students, staff, and community. I’m impressed with the accomplishments of GGC and believe that my experience and leadership [will] enable the institution to reach new heights.”
Dr. Joseph is currently the interim chancellor of Indiana University South Bend. She will replace GGC’s interim president Dr. Mary Beth Walker and will serve as the third full-time president since the college’s founding in 2005.
“I am pleased to welcome Dr. Joseph to the GGC campus,” said Richard Tucker, chair of the Board of Regents’ Special Committee. “I would also like to thank the campus search committee for their hard work selecting and forwarding such an impressive slate of candidates for consideration.”
A closed search began on Nov. 7, 2018. After interviewing close to 80 candidates, the Presidential Search Committee eventually submitted an unranked list of four candidates to the Board of Regents. On March 28, Dr. Joseph was named the sole finalist. In accord with Georgia law, the Board of Regents was required to wait at least five business days before officially voting in Joseph as the new president of GGC.
With substantial input from the GGC community — including 429 survey responses, hundreds of comments, and various listening sessions — the Presidential Search Committee crafted a position description. The new president “must have enthusiasm for leading the College into a new era,” the description read.
“This new era requires a president with proven excellence in fundraising and external relations, collaborative leadership and shared governance, and visionary strategic planning.”
“We had our two former presidents build the college, and building a college is different from what we consider this next era,” said Dr. Awong-Taylor, chair of the Presidential Search Committee. “We are now on our teenage years.”
With more than thirty years of experience in higher education, Joseph boasts an impressive resume. Before her time at IU, she served as the dean of education at Eastern Michigan University (EMU), and before that was an associate dean at Grand Valley State University. She holds a doctorate in science education from the University of Wisconsin, as well as a master’s degree in plant science and a bachelor’s degree in agriculture from the University of the West Indies at St. Augustine.
Although Joseph’s vision remains to be seen, the next era of GGC will involve concerted efforts to garner more funding for the college.
“One of the things that we heard time and time again through the surveys, as well as the listening sessions, is the ability to have somebody who can bring money to GGC,” said Awong-Taylor. “She has that experience, and I think she will be able to do that very successfully.”
As executive vice chancellor at IU, Joseph helped secure major endowments for the university — totaling nearly eight million dollars — and was responsible for managing two-thirds of the general fund budget. As dean of the college of education at EMU, Joseph helped secure more than 11 million dollars in funding.
Joseph is also deeply committed to student success, with a particular focus on minority, first generation, and low-income students.
Before moving to the United States in 1992 to attend the University of Wisconsin, Joseph grew up in Trinidad where she lived “a very modest life,” she said in an interview on the program Economic Outlook. Her father was a tailor and her mother a homemaker. “They barely finished elementary school,” she said.
“I am one of those people who are really excited about [the] potential of public education and the opportunities that it opens to all of us and how it changes generations.”
During her time at IU, Joseph created the Titan Success Center, which addressed student needs beyond the classroom and provided “intrusive advising and coaching” to more than 40 percent of newly admitted students. She also initiated a program that provided paid internships for students who could not afford them, and allocated funding to increase recruitment of Hispanic students.
For the fifth consecutive year, the U.S. News & World Report ranked GGC the most ethnically diverse college in the Southern region, with minorities comprising more than 60 percent of the student population. Joseph will be among the five percent of college presidents who are women of color, according to the American Council of Education, which Awong-Taylor described as “icing on the cake for us.”
“I think [students] will actually see themselves,” Awong-Taylor said. “She reflects them.”
“I feel like I belong at GGC,” Joseph said. “I look forward to getting to know the campus and community as we work together to help our students on the path to lifelong learning.”
Joseph has three children and four grandchildren. In her down time, she takes to hobbies such as crocheting and sewing. “I like to get my hands moving, so my mind can rest — but I also want to feel like I’m accomplishing something at the same time.”