South Georgia Technical College’s Don Smith to retire

Published 1:01 pm Saturday, June 8, 2019

AMERICUS — Don E. Smith, of Americus, has faithfully served three different educational leaders as the special assistant to the president at South Georgia Technical College (SGTC) for nearly 20 years. Earlier this week, he announced his plans to retire effective Dec. 31, 2019.

During his administrative career at South Georgia Tech as the special assistant to the president, Smith has worked in different capacities including overseeing student affairs, campus life, operations, global initiatives and special projects.

“On behalf of everyone at South Georgia Technical College, I would like to thank Don for his service to the college for the past 19 years. He has been a key member of the leadership team and has had a positive impact on thousands of students as well as on the overall campus appearance and facilities,” said SGTC President John Watford, Ed.D.  “He will be missed.”

Over the next few months, Smith will be working with campus leaders to insure a smooth transition of ongoing special projects and current administrative duties.

Smith began his career at SGTC in 2000, under President Jon Johnson. When Johnson retired in 2004, Smith remained as the special assistant to the president for Sparky Reeves. He continued in that same role when Watford accepted the presidency in 2016.

Even though Smith has been an active member of the leadership team at SGTC for the past 19 years, he was associated with the college in a different role prior to accepting a full-time position. He served on the SGTC board of directors when he was a regional Human Resources manager at Lockheed Martin from 1993 to 2000. As an SGTC board member, Smith assisted in the development and instruction of statewide leadership development courses for the Technical College System of Georgia. He continued teaching those courses each year after he joined the staff at SGTC full-time.

“I believe in the mission of South Georgia Technical College. We are the very definition of workforce development. I have seen the benefits that this college provides from an employer standpoint and I have witnessed the difference the college has made in the lives of individual students,” said Smith. “I feel very blessed and honored to have been associated with South Georgia Technical College and the individuals who have worked or attended here.”

In addition to his nearly 20 years at SGTC and another seven with Lockheed Martin, Smith also served as the Employee Relations manager and Safety and Training manager for Cooper Lighting from 1986 to 1993. Prior to coming to Americus, Smith worked as the Community Development director, and county clerk/administrator for Bartow County from 1976 to 1986.

All of his prior human resources, management, administration, employee involvement, training, and development skills proved vital to Smith in his challenging roles at SGTC. In his first role as the special assistant to the president, Smith successfully presided over the Student Affairs department. He oversaw and managed the recruiting, admissions, registrar, financial aid, career placement, disability services, high school initiatives, and Workforce Investment Act programs for both the Americus and Crisp County campuses.

He implemented and administered customer service continuous improvement initiatives to energize student satisfaction and coordinated recruiting processes to achieve 19 consecutive quarters of enrollment growth.

In 2012, the college reorganized administrative responsibilities and Smith was given new challenges with responsibilities over Student Life, Clubs and Organizations, Career Services, Campus Housing and Security, Global Initiatives, and College Facilities Operations including planning, design, construction, and maintenance.

He excelled in his new role. He developed renovation plans and coordinated construction of the 27,000-sq. ft. Energy and Transportation Center on the Americus campus as well as the renovation and new construction of the Morgan Diesel and Automotive Center. He worked on the implementation of student-friendly, campus mall landscape and streetscape plans. He coordinated roof replacement projects and oversaw the development of the college’s five-year facility plan. He was responsible for the implementation of a Global Information Systems (GIS) project establishing satellite coordinates of all campus facilities and utilities. He supervised the planning and installation of energy efficient lighting on both campuses as well as a state of the art outdoor security system. His latest project included the renovation of the Odom Center Administrative building on the Americus campus.

Smith is currently leading the design and reconstruction of the Americus campus central parking and main traffic corridor Master Planning Project while also planning for the repaving of the commercial truck driving pad and new CDL classroom construction project.

Smith attended Jacksonville State University and Shorter College. He also received specialized training in government finance and administration as well as planning and community development certifications from the University of Georgia.

He has been extremely active in the community. He is a past president of the Americus Rotary Club and a recipient of the Sheffield Leadership Award. He served as a past chairman of the board of directors of South Georgia Tech, leadership positions for the Americus/Sumter County Chamber of Commerce, the Americus/Sumter County United Way, the Sumter County Adult Literacy Organization, and the Americus- Sumter Humane Society. He served as a trustee of First Methodist Church, is a member of the adult choir and former director of the youth choir there.

Smith is married to Sybil Smith of Americus and the couple have two grown children, Bryan Hamrick and Franklin Smith. They also have one grandchild.