Tag Archives: Steve Briggs

Bettyann O'NeillA 23-year career highlighted by the two most successful fundraising campaigns in Berry history will come to a close Dec. 31 when Bettyann O’Neill retires from her longtime position as vice president for advancement. O’Neill, who plans to marry and relocate to Florida, has led Berry’s fundraising and alumni engagement efforts since 1999, during which time alumni and friends have committed more than $235 million to advance Martha Berry’s vision and mission, including more than $65 million for student scholarships. Her work has helped lead to such notable campus additions as the McAllister Hall science center, Cage Center, new theatre, Valhalla stadium and Kilpatrick Commons.

“In the days and weeks ahead, we will determine how we will move forward to fill the void her departure will create,” President Steve Briggs said. “Her efforts to support the college’s most critical strategic initiatives have left an indelible mark on Berry’s firsthand educational experiences and have transformed the face of the campus physically.”

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Williams Field Dedication

From left, softball coach Cori Thiermann, Dean of Students Debbie Heida, Board of Trustees Chair Barry Griswell (71C) and President Steve Briggs join Kay and Bob (62H) Williams at the official ribbon-cutting for Kay Williams Field.

Four straight wins over top-ranked opponents, a milestone 200th victory for head coach Cori Thiermann and a field dedication honoring one of their biggest fans highlighted a program-best 13-0 start for Berry’s softball Vikings.

The Feb. 18 dedication of Kay Williams Field coincided with a doubleheader sweep of arch-rival Emory University. A pregame ceremony honored Kay Williams’ longtime support of Berry’s student-athletes and the institution as a whole. Husband Bob Williams (62H) joined her for the dedication, along with Board of Trustees Chair Barry Griswell (71C) and other Berry leaders.

The wins over Emory – coming on the heels of a similarly impressive sweep of Texas Lutheran – propelled Berry to a top-5 national ranking. In less than a month of action, three members of the team – Brittany Tuttle, Sarah Moore and Marie Collop – have earned National Player of the Week honors from either Fastpitch News or the National Fastpitch Coaches Association.

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Martha Berry’s friendship with Henry and Clara Ford left an indelible impression on the institution that bears her name. Recently, Ford Motor Company honored the legacy of that friendship in a video featuring Edsel Ford, Henry and Clara’s great-grandson. Shot on campus last October, the video made its debut in January at a “Salute to Dealers” event honoring the philanthropic efforts of Ford dealers worldwide.

President Steve Briggs, who appears with Edsel Ford in the video, explored the history of Martha Berry’s “improbable friendship” with the Fords in his winter Berry magazine essay. Read more.

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Project champion Audrey Morgan received a well-deserved standing ovation during a Feb. 23 “topping-out” celebration marking the halfway point in construction for Berry’s new theatre.

Work on the 9,226 square-foot addition to Blackstone Hall is progressing rapidly, with completion expected as early as May 30. Students, faculty, donors and friends got a glimpse of the developing space during the luncheon, which was held inside the four walls that soon will house a black-box stage with adjustable seating for up to 276, depending on the needs of a particular production. Construction and design partners in attendance praised the cooperation and assistance of Berry’s theatre faculty and facilities staff in helping to bring the project to fruition.

It was Morgan’s $1 million challenge gift that initiated fundraising for the now-completed $6.7 million theatre campaign in fall 2015. A year later, at the project groundbreaking, she announced a second $1 million commitment, this one from the foundation of her late sister, Dr. M. Bobbie Bailey.

Morgan, an honorary alumna and member of the Board of Visitors, spoke fondly of her sister at the topping out and graciously thanked all “who had a part in making this dream a reality.” Later, President Steve Briggs proclaimed to the theatre students in attendance, “This, my friends, is for you.”

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President Steve Briggs announced last week that Berry’s LifeReady Campaign has now surpassed $100 million in gifts and pledges. Fundraising for several major campaign projects has been completed, but four strategic priorities remain. Those priorities, and the estimated remaining needs, are:

Click here to read Dr. Briggs’ message, which includes a list of accomplishments to date. Learn more about the vision for LifeReady by viewing the accompanying video. Commitments to remaining priorities can be made at www.berry.edu/gift.

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GHP LogoThe Governor’s Office of Student Achievement has selected Berry as the new site for Georgia’s prestigious Governor’s Honors Program. Beginning in 2017, Berry will welcome 650 of the state’s best and brightest high school students for a four-week summer residential program featuring classes in a wide variety of fields.

“We are thrilled to host the Governor’s Honors Program,” said Berry President Steve Briggs. “Berry’s campus is an ideal setting for a residential program that offers innovative and engaging experiences for Georgia’s most talented students. We expect the GHP students to make the most of this amazing place and its academic, artistic and recreational opportunities. What a great way for them to test-drive what college can be.”

Berry was chosen from a group of colleges and universities across the state that expressed interest in hosting the honors program. In its official announcement, the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement noted Berry’s ability to provide appropriate academic and residential space, as well as a strong partnership and 21st-century resources to support the continued advancement of the program.

“Our specialty is a great residential academic community, and that fits with the Governor’s Honors Program,” said Debbie Heida, Berry’s vice president for student affairs. “We’ll treat these students as our own students.”

Full press release.

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A dream several years in the making became a reality this summer with the grand opening of the Rome Tennis Center at Berry College. Currently the largest single-surface tennis center in the United States, the 60-court facility is located on Berry-donated property just north of Mount Berry Mall.

“Less than a handful of communities in the entire country come close to matching what you have here,” United States Tennis Association Executive Director Gordon Smith praised at the July opening. “You should all give yourselves a round of applause.”

The center is already proving to be a draw for players from throughout the Southeast, hosting four major tournaments and more than 1,600 participants in its first few weeks alone. Two other major events are scheduled this fall, with many more to follow in 2017 and beyond.

The new center was funded by a voter-approved special purpose sales tax as part of a public-private partnership expected to provide a major boost to the local economy while also opening the door to new work and learning opportunities for Berry students. The community partnership has allowed the Work Experience Program’s community and industry initiative to expand into the tennis world. The center also provides opportunities for students to pursue certification in Professional Tennis Management. Berry is one of a handful of colleges and universities nationwide to offer such a certification program.

“We want to create great experiences for our students,” said President Steve Briggs. “We want them to be ready for life and to understand what it means to put on great events and to serve other people’s needs. Students are attracted to Berry because they have the opportunity to participate in something like this.”

Additional coverage: Grand opening photo gallery, Good Day Atlanta

Public Relations Student Assistant Alexi Bell contributed to this story.

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Kathy and Randy RichardsonProvost Kathy Brittain Richardson will be leaving Berry at the end of the current academic year to take on a new challenge as president of Westminster College in Pennsylvania. She is the first woman to be named president of Westminster, a top-tier liberal arts college that has been ranked among the “Top 25 Best Colleges in the Northeast.”

A beloved member of the communication faculty since 1986, Richardson has been honored with Berry’s top awards for teaching, scholarship and service. In addition to her work in the classroom, she also distinguished herself as associate provost and dean of academic services (1999-2007) and interim provost (2007-08) before assuming her current role as chief academic officer in 2013.

“We will always know Dr. Richardson as a colleague who fully embraced Berry’s commitment to an education of the head, heart and hands,” said Berry President Steve Briggs. “She has poured herself into the fabric of our community and has worked tenaciously to make Berry better.”

Joining her at Westminster will be husband and colleague Dr. Randy Richardson, another beloved member of the communication faculty who is legendary for his work with the Berry forensics program. Under his leadership, Berry has won 20 consecutive state forensic championships and numerous national honors. He is a past recipient of the National Forensic Association’s Distinguished Service Award.

Berry officials will conduct a nationwide search for a new provost. Dr. Andy Bressette, currently associate provost, has accepted an interim appointment for 2016-17.

If you’d like to honor these amazing faculty members for their many years of service to Berry, please consider an online gift to the “Kathy Brittain Richardson Faculty and Staff Leadership Fund” or the “Randy Richardson Forensics Union Fund.” The former will support a variety of activities within the Faculty and Staff Leadership Academy, a future initiative of the Berry College Integrity in Leadership Center. The latter helps fund the activities of the Berry College Forensics Union. Contact Fred Mercer at 706-290-2164 or fmercer@berry.edu for more details.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Westminster to get first look at new president

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Lake Adjacent to CCRC SiteRetire at Berry Web BannerFor decades, alumni have shared with college officials their desire to see a retirement community developed on or near the Berry campus. That dream is now one step closer to reality following the recent announcement that a site has been selected for a planned Continuing Care Retirement Community to open in 2019.

The facility, discussed by President Steve Briggs in the summer issue of Berry magazine, will be built on undeveloped college land overlooking a pristine 88-acre lake that up until 15 years ago served as a limestone quarry. The site offers commanding views of Lavender Mountain and is in close proximity to Berry’s main campus and Rome’s highly regarded medical centers.

The community will feature 150 apartment homes and cottages and offer a full complement of healthcare and supportive services and amenities. It also will provide work and learning opportunities for a significant number of Berry students serving in a variety of roles.

“The relationship between the college and CCRC is wonderfully complementary, as it will allow different generations to enjoy and serve one another,” said President Briggs. “And both the retirement community and Berry will be richer for it.”

Hundreds have shown interest in the project by requesting information through the Retire at Berry website. Many have attended meetings for alumni and friends wishing to participate in the project’s priority placement program. Visit www.retireatberry.com to secure placement on the list (a minimal refundable deposit is required).

Other developments this fall include selection of major design and contracting firms and the naming of an independent seven-member board of directors for the facility, which will operate as a financially self-sustaining nonprofit. It is expected that both the community and the lake will be named early next year.

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Buster Wright Portrait

Buster Wright

Barbara Kellerman Portrait

Barbara Kellerman

The new year will bring a new initiative within the Berry College Integrity in Leadership Center – the Cecil B. “Buster” Wright III Integrity in Leadership Lecture Series. The series honors the role that Wright, a 1973 alumnus who now serves as vice chair of the Berry College Board of Trustees, has played as a force behind the establishment of the leadership center and its Carper mentoring program, his generosity toward Berry, and his personal character.

The Feb. 11 inaugural presentation will feature remarks by Barbara Kellerman, the James MacGregor Burns Lecturer in Public Leadership at Harvard University. Her public lecture is scheduled for 8 p.m. in the Berry College Chapel. Admission is free. Before speaking, Kellerman will dine with students and special guests. While on campus, she also will conduct a half day of classroom visits.

“It is a wonderful privilege to have Dr. Kellerman here for the inauguration of the Cecil B. Wright III Integrity in Leadership Lecture Series,” said President Steve Briggs. “Buster Wright admires Dr. Kellerman’s writings and uses them in his mentoring work with Berry students, so it is a fitting tribute to his convictions and tenacity that she should deliver the lecture as his vision becomes a reality.”

The Integrity in Leadership Center is a priority of Berry’s LifeReady Campaign.

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Tennis Center Site PlanA vision years in the making came into sharp focus with the June groundbreaking for the Rome Tennis Center of Georgia at Berry College. Upon completion in 2016, the 51-court facility will become a key economic development tool for the Rome community and a source of fresh opportunities for Berry students.

Funded by a voter-approved SPLOST (local sales tax for a special purpose), the center represents a public-private partnership involving Berry, the City of Rome, the Coosa Valley Tennis Association, the Greater Rome Chamber of Commerce, and the Greater Rome Convention and Visitors Bureau. It will be located northeast of Mount Berry Square Mall on 35 acres of Berry-donated property orphaned by the 2012 completion of the Armuchee Connector linking Martha Berry Highway and Veterans Memorial Parkway (Georgia Loop 1).

Tennis Center Club HouseDesigned to tap into Rome’s strong tennis tradition, the center will have room for up to 60 regulation courts – more than sufficient to host large tournaments. Notable features include six NCAA regulation courts and three main-event courts overlooked by a 3,846-square-foot lodge-like clubhouse (pictured at left). Twelve of the regular courts will be painted with “quick-start” lines to introduce the sport to children. There’s also space for an indoor facility, a possible future addition.

In the summer issue of Berry magazine, President Steve Briggs discussed the college’s strategic emphasis on partnerships that support the surrounding community while providing students with practical firsthand experiences. Read his column.

Site plan and club house rendering courtesy of Cevian Design Lab

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Berry College Welcome CenterA changing of the guard took place at the college entrance this spring as Berry’s newly minted Welcome Center greeted its first guests and the familiar 1960s era gatehouse enjoyed one last moment in the sun.

Funded through gifts to the LifeReady Campaign, the Welcome Center is designed to make the campus both more welcoming and more secure. Student hosts stand ready to provide information and assistance as visitors check in under a covered portico, while a sophisticated security system using Radio Frequency Identification technology (to be activated later this summer) will allow student, faculty and staff vehicles to pass through. Berry police also maintain an active presence in the facility, which houses the central campus fire alarm, emergency call center and weather warning system.

You Name It -- GatehouseWith the new Welcome Center now in place, the gatehouse was demolished in early May, but not before getting one last hurrah. Spring graduate Ashley Rene Swanson (15C) won the right to name the venerable structure before its demise with a gift to “You Name It,” a program offering off-the-wall naming opportunities to those making a minimum $5 donation to the Annual Fund. She is seen here accepting the gatehouse “key” from Berry President Steve Briggs.

Visit You Name it for information on other naming opportunities. Harry Musselwhite’s iconic beard and Ouida Dickey’s immortal red pen already have been claimed, but several others remain.

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