GSW Brian Adler to retire June 1
Published 12:30 pm Wednesday, May 31, 2017
AMERICUS — After nearly a decade at Georgia Southwestern State University (GSW), Vice President for Academic Affairs (VPAA) Brian Adler, Ph.D., is retiring on June 1.
Adler joined Georgia Southwestern as the VPAA in 2008. In his role, Adler has been responsible for oversight of GSW’s academic programs and policies of the university. As the chief academic, he served as the dean of faculty.
Prior to arriving on campus at GSW, Adler served as the dean of the Graduate School at Valdosta State University (VSU) from 2005 until 2008. He also served as administrative head of VSU’s Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies and director of the Honors Program.
Adler earned a bachelor of arts in English from the University of South Carolina in 1978, a master of arts in English from the University of Georgia in 1984 and a doctoral in English from the University of Tennessee in 1988.
“My time at GSW has been most rewarding but at the same time, challenging,” Adler said. “I seem to have arrived at GSW just as the 2008 recession also showed up.”
“We had a number of years of contracting budgets, followed by static budgets, while at the same time we were increasing our enrollments and our retention numbers,” Adler added. “Fortunately, we’ve come out of those times a much stronger institution.”
During Adler’s tenure, GSW added several new academic programs and strengthened its reputation as one of the best colleges in Georgia by focusing on excellence in teaching and learning in the ever-changing higher education landscape. The university added undergraduate degrees in criminal justice and general studies and graduate degrees in education, English and nursing, with each of them offering significant online components or being offered completely online. GSW became a consortial member of the Web BSIT program as well as launched the system’s first eCampus bachelor of business administration degree.
Under Adler’s leadership, the university also successfully earned reaccreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and implemented its first Quality Enhancement Plan, “Windows to the World.” The School of Business Administration received prestigious initial accreditation by AACSB; the School of Nursing underwent three successful accreditation reviews; and the School of Education successfully extended its accreditation through 2022.
In addition to these accomplishments, Adler helped to restructure academic advisement, encouraging the use of technology to focus closely on early student success and the University System of Georgia’s initiative to improve retention, progression and graduation rates. Over the last five years, GSW has improved its retention rates by five percentage points and the six-year graduation rate has improved by three percent.
“I suppose I’m proudest of the fact that we have increased graduation and retention rates, while at the same time we have not only maintained but have increased our expectations of academic achievements for our students,” Adler said. “Not a single accomplishment was done by me alone, but by the fantastically dedicated faculty and staff here at GSW.”
“No person is an island, especially an administrator,” Adler added. “The concept of shared governance is alive and well here at GSW, and that is a good thing.”
Recently Adler, who serves as an ex-officio member of the Rosalynn Carter Institute board of firectors, had one of his most memorable experiences at GSW to date.
“I was honored not only to be seated next to our interim president, Dr. Patterson, but for the first and only time I was at the table of both Mrs. Carter and President Carter, and was also seated next to Betty Pope,” Adler said. “The Carters and Mrs. Pope are really larger than life people, but also the kindest and most humble of people as well. Spending a splendid evening with these wonderful human beings, to talk about important matters regarding our university, our city and our programs, among other things, was truly a high point for me. “
“I first met Dr. Adler, not as a colleague, but as an honors student at Valdosta State University,” said Charles Patterson, GSW interim president. “As the new Honors Program director, Dr. Adler taught us to adopt critical thinking skills and to view the world in a broader context than many students were accustomed to doing. Dr. Adler had a flair for challenging his students in a caring environment.
“Our paths would cross some 13 years later when I was appointed as the interim president at Georgia Southwestern State University,” Patterson added. “I think it took a week or so for Dr. Adler to realize that I was one of his very first students in the Honors Program. To paraphrase his words upon seeing me again, ‘the student has become the master.’ I have never viewed our relationship in this way. Dr. Adler is a highly respected professional in the arena of academic affairs and, personally, one of my closest colleagues and mentors.”
As his retirement approaches, Adler is looking forward to spending more time with his mother in Savannah, with his wife Annette, and their son and daughter who live in Pittsburg and Washington, D.C.
Lynda Lee Purvis will serve as the interim vice president for Academic Affairs upon Adler’s retirement. A national search to fill his position will begin at a later date.
Adler concluded, “It has been truly the greatest honor of my life to work here and to help, in some small way, to move the university forward.”