GHC names Nichols new vice president for academic affairs

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Georgia Highlands College has filled the vacancy left when former Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Renva Watterson retired this summer.

Dr. Dana Nichols has been appointed the new VPAA and will oversee the deans in health sciences; mathematics; natural sciences and physical education; humanities; social sciences, business and education; and libraries and testing as well as the directors of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning; Academic Success Center; and new student and retention programs.

“It is a very exciting time to be joining GHC as the new vice president for academic affairs," said Nichols, who took over her new position earlier this month. "The college is growing and continues to serve as the University System of Georgia’s primary access institution for northwest Georgia. I’m looking forward to working with everyone here at GHC, and I can’t wait to help our Chargers unlock their full potential.” 

Nichols, who will have offices on the Rome and Cartersville campuses, has two primary objectives she hopes to accomplish.

"GHC is one of the most affordable, accessible and valuable options for students, which is why one of my main goals as the new VPAA is recruitment," she said. "Recruitment is a job we are all responsible for, and we should all talk to potential students about the tremendous value and return on investment at GHC."

Her second focus will be on retention and graduation efforts.  

"Retention will occur when we maintain focus on the student," Nichols said. "One of my retention goals is increased graduation rates through three specific methods, which will require some reinvention of old practices: through renewed commitment to student success strategies and implementation of high-impact practices in the classroom and out; through creation of new degree programs, embedded certificates and stackable credentials that anticipate future industry and workforce; and through more strategic scheduling across our five locations [Rome, Cartersville, Dallas, Douglasville and Marietta] and through technology." 

Nichols began her academic career at Gainesville State College, where she served first as a tutor in the foreign language and writing labs and then as an associate professor of both English and Spanish.

She also served as the assistant vice president and dean of academic affairs at Lanier Technical College and as vice president for academic affairs at Chattanooga State Community College — which  spans three campuses and two time zones — before coming to GHC.  

The new VPAA earned a doctorate in English from Georgia State University, dual bachelor’s degrees in English and Spanish from Mercer University and two associate degrees from Gainesville State College.

Recently, she was one of only 40 educators selected nationwide to take part in the Aspen Presidential Fellowship for Community College Excellence, which prepares the next generation of community-college presidents to lead institutions that achieve exceptional outcomes for students in learning, completion, post-transfer success and the labor market.