February 17, 2006
06-029

Charles Harmon Director of University Relations, Sementha Mathews Manager of Public Information and Media Relations

VSU's College of Education named after Dewars and $2 million gift

Valdosta State University President Ronald M. Zaccari has announced that the College of Education will be officially named the James L. and Dorothy H. Dewar College of Education, pending the approval from the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia. The decision comes in recognition of a $2 million gift from the Dewar family and Park Avenue Bank, founded by Dewar.

The $2 million gift, one of the largest single gifts received by VSU, comes at a very opportune time given recent decreases in state funding for education and simultaneous encouragement from the Georgia Board of Regents for USG institutions to double the number of new teachers prepared. The College of Education enrollment represents approximately 34 percent of the students at VSU, and the enrollment has been increased by offering more than 50 diverse programs, from the associate to the doctoral level, and in three areas of concentration.

According to Dr. Philip L. Gunter, dean of the College of Education, funds from this gift will be used to help implement projects that enhance the benefits provided by current programs and further the national reputation of the College. Such projects include the establishment of fellowships and scholarships for students majoring in education, establishment of a center for excellence in math and science education, implementation of a senior scholar position in educational research to assist young professors in development of research activities, and enhancement of partnerships with P-12 schools to collaboratively impact learning of students from pre-school through college.

"This wonderfully generous gift is exciting in that many of the dreams of faculty members and other stakeholders in the College of Education at Valdosta State University will be achieved," said Gunter. "Without this gift, such important enhancements would not have been possible in the near future."

Dewar and his wife, who is a 1938 alumna of Georgia State Womans College (which later became VSU), began their careers in education as school teachers. Dewar, expanding his influence, moved on to be a principal, superintendent for 12 years of the Lowndes County School System, and was also a member of the Georgia State Board of Education from 1967 to 1973.

The Dewars have been long-time friends and supporters of VSU for over four decades. In 1966, Dewar established the Mattie Hendry Dewar Scholarship and Loan Fund; in 1978, he and his wife established the Eva Carroll Herndon Scholarship Fund; and in 1996, Dewar established an endowment that provides additional VSU scholarships annually. The $2 million gift is a reflection of the Dewars' commitment to support the continued growth of VSU and the educational resources it provides to the 41-country region it serves.

"My parents met while my father was the principal of the Lake Park School, and after they married, my mother became an elementary school teacher," recalls Jimmy Dewar, Chairman of the Board of PAB Bankshares, Inc., and son of James and Dorothy. "Even with their later success in banking, education remained their passion. The ability to use family resources to help VSU produce competent and caring teachers for the future is a wonderful opportunity for us."

The monetary gift and naming of the College of Education occurs during a celebratory year at VSU, as the university gears up for its 100th birthday on August 18, 2006. A special dedication ceremony for the College of Education will be announced later in the year as part of the university's centennial activities.

"The Dewar family and Park Avenue Bank have joined financial forces to support VSU's expanding role as a premier regional university," said VSU President Ronald M. Zaccari. "The $2 million gift will establish an endowment intended to enhance the future of teacher education in VSU's South Georgia service region. The Dewar family's history of strong financial support is amplified by such a major gift to VSU's visionary future."

"On behalf of the entire VSU family, I thank James Dewar and the Board of Directors of PAB Bankshares, Inc., for recognizing the importance of training Georgia's future teachers," said Zaccari. "With final approval by the Board of Regents, the naming of the Dewar College of Education will provide a lasting tribute to two dedicated educators and strong supporters of Valdosta State University."