GSW to honor 2017 Outstanding Alumni Award recipients Oct. 20

Published 10:38 am Monday, October 16, 2017

AMERICUS — Georgia Southwestern State University (GSW) will honor alumni from each college/school on campus and will induct one former athlete into the GSW Athletics Hall of Fame at the second annual Outstanding Alumni Awards Banquet. The event, which will recognize six Outstanding Alumni, takes place Friday, Oct. 20 in the Marshall Student Center Private Dining Room within the Thomas O. Marshall Jr. Pavilion. Tickets are still available and are $40 per person.
The Outstanding Alumni Award was developed to recognize the distinguished personal accomplishments and professional achievements of Georgia Southwestern Alumni. Patricia Stark (’59), who was honored in 2016, will serve as the featured speaker. The Leewynn Finklea Alumni Award recipient will also be announced during the event.
The 2017 GSW Outstanding Alumni Award recipients are:
• Jeff Benton, ’92 and ‘96, School of Business Administration
• Calvin Rhodes, ’90, School of Computing and Mathematics
• Allen Fort, ’75 and ‘78 School of Education
• Greg Slappey, M.D., ’88, College of Arts and Sciences
• Judy Tingley, D.N.P., ’97, School of Nursing
• J.P. Griffin, ’14, GSW Athletics Hall of Fame

“This is a big day for our campus community,” said GSW President Neal Weaver. “It is important for our current and prospective students to see the University celebrate alumni success. We are honored to recognize such an accomplished group during our second annual Outstanding Alumni Banquet.”

More about the Outstanding Alumni:

Jeff Benton
With more than 20 years of experience in the lighting industry, Benton is the vice president of operations for Eaton’s residential and wiring devices division, a $1 billion operation. Immediately prior, Benton was the president of ALP Lighting Components for two years.
A U.S. Army veteran, Benton earned a bachelor and master of business administration from Georgia Southwestern after being in service three years. A member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity while at GSW, Benton received the 25-year Volunteer Service Award at the Kappa Sigma Grand Conclave in Las Vegas, Nevada, in July 2017. He is currently the president of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity Alumni Council.

Calvin Rhodes
Rhodes is the chief information officer (CIO) for the state of Georgia and serves as the executive director of the Georgia Technology Authority (GTA). He entered state government in January 2011, from Paladin Investments, where he served as founder and managing partner. Prior to that, he worked with Fulton Paper Co. for 27 years.
“Computerworld” magazine named Rhodes a 2016 Premier 100 Technology Leader, and Government Technology selected him as one of the nation’s Top 25 Doers, Dreamers and Drivers of 2016. Rhodes is a graduate of Darton College and he holds a bachelor of science in computer information systems from GSW. He earned a master of business administration from the University of Phoenix.
Allen Fort
Fort is the superintendent for Taliaferro County Schools in Crawfordville, Ga. Prior to that, he was a consultant for the Southern Regional Education Board (Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Alabama). He also served as superintendent of Quitman County Schools and as a school improvement specialist for the Georgia Department of Education. He ran for state superintendent of schools in 2014.
Fort’s career and experience in Georgia K-12 spans more than 40 years as a teacher and administrator dating back to when he graduated with a bachelor of science in education from GSW in 1975. His work in the classroom earned him “Teacher of the Year” honors three different times. Fort also holds a master’s degree from GSW and Valdosta State University and an education specialist degree from the University of Georgia.
Greg Slappey, M.D.
Slappey has been on staff at the Carrollton Orthopaedic Clinic as an orthopaedic surgeon since 1998, specializing in sports medicine. He received a bachelor of science in biology from GSW where he played football (three-time All American), baseball (two-time All American) and was a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity. Inducted in the GSW Athletics Hall of Fame in 1995, Slappey earned his medical degree at the Medical College of Georgia.
A member of the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, Slappey serves as the team physician for the University of West Georgia.
Judy Tingley, DNP
Tingley is the vice president and chief executive officer for Erlanger Health System’s Heart and Lung Institute in Chattanooga, Tenn. Additionally, Tingley serves as an assistant clinical professor of nursing for the Columbia University School of Nursing’s Doctor of Nursing Practice program. Prior to joining Erlanger, Tingley was the chief operating officer of Columbia Heartsource.
Tingley earned a bachelor of science in nursing from GSW, a master of public health from the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University in New York, N.Y., and a doctor of nursing practice from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. Tingley has 20 years of experience in healthcare, including clinical experience in cardiac surgery intensive care, transplant intensive care, and the cardiac catheterization laboratory.
J.P. Griffin
Griffin is currently a PGA Professional at the Capital City Club in Atlanta, and he serves as the vice president of the PGA of Georgia’s Assistant’s Division. Griffin’s success while a member of the GSW golf team has firmly placed him as the latest inductee into the GSW Athletics Hall of Fame.
Griffin was a three-time Peach Belt Conference Golfer of the Week and a two-time All Conference selection. He was a member of the All Region team; he was third team All American; he placed second at the 2012 NCAA Division II Southeast Regional; and he finished ninth overall at the 2012 NCAA Division II National Championship Tournament. Griffin served as an assistant coach for the golf team prior to graduating with a degree in human resource management in 2014.