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Shumates make GGC’s Advising Center possible

A significant gift of $250,000 from Greg and Tammy Shumate enabled Georgia Gwinnett College and its School of Transitional Studies to recently open a much-needed Advising Center.  The center served 1,071 students in its first year.

Tammy Shumate, GGC President Stas Preczewski and Greg Shumate

“We wanted to provide support where it would make the greatest impact on student success, which is the hallmark of a GGC education,” said Greg Shumate. “Georgia Gwinnett is uniquely dedicated to ensuring that all students are provided with the tools they need to complete their degrees. This not only transforms students’ lives but supports Complete College Georgia goals.”  

The Advising Center, part of the college’s School of Transitional Studies (STS), serves students who must take Student Success pre-college courses to improve basic skills so they can take college-level courses. The center’s staff proactively helps advisees to identify and use campus resources, develop and stick to academic improvement plans and communicate with professors. They meet with students individually or in groups and provide in-class workshops. 

“We help students reconcile what they think college is about and what is actually expected of them once they’re here,” said Dr. Karen Jackson, center director.  “Our advisors focus on supporting students in developing academic success skills, setting realistic goals and implementing a manageable plan to achieve those goals.”

The center’s efforts are already paying off. Of its 679 advisees enrolled for fall 2013, 92.6 percent were retained for spring semester.

“GGC’s 82.5 percent first-year, fall-to-spring retention rate for all first-year students is remarkable, particularly for an access institution, but these advisees are at high risk for not progressing in their studies,” said Dr. Barry Biddlecomb, dean of STS. “A 92.6 percent retention rate is tremendous.”  

Of the Advising Center’s total 1,071 advisees for 2013-14, most completed their courses and many did well. For example, when one student was failing MATH 0099 at mid-term, his advisor coached him on how to communicate with his professor and create a plan to improve his performance. The student not only passed, he earned a B.

In addition, the center’s Grizzly Renewal Opportunity Workshop (GROW) allowed students who had been academically suspended after fall to attend spring semester with fewer courses and specific expectations designed to help them progress. Of 50 GROW students, 10 successfully exited the program and another 15 are eligible to continue.

“Thanks to the Shumates, 1,071 students have immediately gained an improved opportunity to complete their degrees,” said Renee Byrd-Lewis, vice president for Advancement. “This affects 1,071 careers and families, exponentially extending this gift’s impact into the community for generations to come.” shumate 1 190

When one considers that the Advising Center will do this for thousands more students over the years, the incredible significance of this gift to the Gwinnett area and to the state of Georgia can never be adequately measured, Byrd-Lewis said. 

“Investment in GGC ultimately benefits the community through a more highly trained workforce and more engaged citizens,” said Greg Shumate. “GGC’s innovative model thus enhances our community’s vitality and economic strength. Supporting the college is an effective way to leave a legacy that will continue paying dividends for decades.”

The Shumates are long-time residents and active leaders in the Gwinnett community. Greg is CEO and managing partner of Brand Mortgage, where Tammy also works in Corporate and Community Development. 

Greg serves on the boards of directors for Community Foundation of Northeast Georgia and Gwinnett Medical Center, and the board of trustees for the Georgia Gwinnett College Foundation. He is a past president of the Mortgage Bankers Association of Georgia.

A graduate of Leadership Gwinnett, Tammy has held several volunteer positions in local organizations, including treasurer, Leadership Gwinnett Foundation; board of trustees secretary/treasurer, Leadership Gwinnett and executive board treasurer, Gwinnett Clean & Beautiful. She also serves on the boards of directors for the 1818 Club and Gwinnett Hospital Foundation and the executive board of the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce.

“The Shumates’ commitment to their community is an inspiration,” said Byrd-Lewis. “We appreciate their support of our students, and GGC’s mission and vision. People like the Shumates make our community, state and region an even better place to live and work.”  

Georgia Gwinnett College is a four-year, accredited liberal arts college that provides access to targeted baccalaureate level degrees that meet the economic development needs of the growing and diverse population of Gwinnett County and the northeast Atlanta metropolitan region. GGC opened its doors in August 2006 as the nation’s first four-year public college founded in the 21st century, and the first four-year public college founded in Georgia in more than 100 years. Georgia Gwinnett produces contributing citizens and future leaders for Georgia and the nation. Its graduates are inspired to contribute to their local, state, national and international communities and are prepared to anticipate and respond effectively to an uncertain and changing world. Visit Georgia Gwinnett College’s Web site at