Tag Archives: Steve Briggs

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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The rhythmic beat of the Viking Drumline provided the perfect soundtrack as students, faculty, staff, board members, project donors and special guests celebrated the Oct. 17 groundbreaking for Valhalla, including Williams Field, Clark Track and Dickey Field.

“What a great day it is for Berry College,” said President Steve Briggs, addressing the large crowd gathered at the construction site just south of the Cage Center. “It’s an important milestone in our ongoing effort to enhance this amazing campus and to create places of opportunity for students, for our friends and for our community. And like the Cage Center behind us, Valhalla will provide a major venue for recreation, excitement, achievement, participation and just plain fun.”

Taking up shovels were Steve Cage (74C), the Berry trustee whose 2012 lead gift initiated fundraising for Valhalla; Bob (62H) and Kay Williams, whose generosity paved the way for the naming of the stadium field; alumni trustees Bert Clark (82C) and Roger Lusby (79C), who led the successful Clark Track Challenge, and Bert’s wife, Cathy; Dr. Ouida Dickey (50C, FFS), who has joined daughters Jennifer (77A, 80C) and Angela (75A, 79C) in making a challenge gift to name the track and field throws area for the late Garland M. Dickey (42C); Steve and Michelle Tart, football parents and project supporters; Randy Berry and Barry Griswell (71C), trustees and LifeReady Campaign co-chairs, and Barry’s wife Michele (70C), all major donors to the project; and Board of Trustees Chair Karen Holley Horrell (74C), another major contributor to the fundraising effort to build the stadium.

Steve CageIn his remarks, Cage (pictured) noted that Valhalla is “a collaboration of hard work, trust and leadership with the Board of Trustees, Dr. Briggs, faculty and staff, students and donors.” He offered special praise to the Berry president, dedicating the new stadium in his honor, and thanked all those who had made gifts to the project. Groundbreaking coverage.

Christened  “a place for us” by SGA President Paton Roden, Valhalla will provide a new home for Berry’s football and men’s and women’s lacrosse teams when completed in 2015. The stadium and adjacent Dickey Field will also make possible the spring 2016 resumption of full competition in men’s and women’s track and field, in addition to hosting intramural competitions and other large outdoor events. Berry’s service entrance will be closed until construction is completed.

Fundraising for Valhalla is now entering its final phase. Gifts to the project can be made online. If you’d like to double your giving power, make your commitment through the Dickey Field Challenge.

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First-class facilities, centers for integrity in leadership and entrepreneurship, enhancements to the Work Experience Program, generous scholarships, and new student mentoring initiatives are the focus of LifeReady: The Berry College Campaign for Opportunity.

Together, these campaign priorities will build on Berry’s historic mission of educating the head, heart and hands and further strengthen opportunities for students to discover their gifts and realize their potential. The result will be graduates who leave Berry even better prepared to improve their homes, workplaces and communities.

“Opportunity long has been Berry’s pledge to hardworking students,” said Barry Griswell (71C), retired chairman and CEO of Principal Financial Group and campaign co-chair with fellow college trustee Randy Berry. “The experience of a Berry education has changed my own life and others, while the character of a Berry education has changed communities for the better. We want to continue this important work.”

The campaign launch was accompanied by news that more than $73 million in gifts and pledges were already in hand. These early commitments – made during the four years preceding the May 17 kickoff event – include $24 million to support an eventual total of 130 innovative, mission-based Gate of Opportunity Scholarships. Funding also has been completed for the McAllister Hall endowment supporting science education and science-based scholarships.

Future commitments will make possible major facilities enhancements for Berry’s growing animal science program and much-needed renovations for the college’s primary performing arts venues, Ford Auditorium and Blackstone Hall. Other brick-and-mortar projects include a campus welcome center and entry enhancements; the Valhalla stadium for football, lacrosse, and track and field; and the recently completed renovation of Roy Richards Memorial Gymnasium.

Learning experiences will be enriched through centers focused on integrity in leadership and entrepreneurship, while work experiences – long a hallmark of a Berry education – will be enhanced through gifts supporting Berry Student Enterprises and other high-level student work positions. New mentoring programs will help students maximize the opportunities afforded by their Berry experience.

Details about each campaign priority can be found at www.berry.edu/lifeready. The site also includes information about giving options alumni and friends can use to help make these projects a reality. Gifts of any size through June 2020 count toward the campaign total.

“We could not be where we are today without your support, and we will not achieve the goals of this campaign without your help going forward,” President Steve Briggs said in an email message to alumni. “We have the opportunity to have a profound impact on Berry and the lives of future students.”

Campaign launch.

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New Site for Valhalla Stadium

Tentative rendering for new Valhalla stadium site. Cage Center is top center.

Berry’s eagles were back in the news in late spring thanks to a decision by college officials to preserve the natural buffer around the famous nest by changing the site for the new Valhalla stadium.

Already shifted once as part of an eagle buffering plan approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Valhalla will be constructed south of the original site in the field bordered by Maple Drive (the service entrance), Martha Berry Highway and Memory Lane.

The relocation announcement was met with widespread support on Berry’s social media channels, especially among nature enthusiasts who have helped to make the college’s Eagle Cam an international sensation.

“The eagles are mesmerizing, better than any reality television show,” said President Steve Briggs. “And the truth is we are entranced by them as well.”

Fundraising for Valhalla – which will provide a home for intercollegiate football, lacrosse, and track and field in addition to intramural sports and other campus events – is more than 80 percent complete. Construction is expected to begin later this year. As part of the project, Maple Drive will be widened and a grassy field for track-and-field throwing events will be added.

The stadium is expected to be completed in time for the 2015 football season. Home games this fall will be played at Barron Stadium in Rome.

Support Valhalla.

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