President Dozier: Five-year retrospective

In just five years, President Dozier has made a tremendous impact at Savannah State University. From founding a faculty mini-grant initiative to overseeing the return of teacher education to SSU, much has changed in her short time at the helm.

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Enrollment has continued to grow during her tenure. At the beginning of each fall semester, the number of students reaches 5,000. Graduation participants are also increasing under her well-known refrain to “finish in four.”

She personally travels the state and region to meet students in their high schools, who might not have otherwise considered SSU. She is known to travel with “money in her pocket” that she offers in the form of book awards to the top GPA students from each high school.

Creating a Board of Visitors in 2014-2015 was part of her vision to increase corporate and the community support. She is actively involved in the Savannah community. She has served on the United Way of the Coastal Empire Board of Directors, Savannah Economic Development Authority Advisory Council, Telfair Museums Board of Trustees, Step Up Savannah Board of Directors, Union Mission Board of Directors, Savannah Area Chamber of Commerce CEO Council, BankSouth Savannah Advisory Board, World Trade Center Savannah Board of Directors, and Rotary Club of Savannah.

At the state level, Dr. Dozier was appointed to the Child Welfare Reform Council by Governor Nathan Deal in 2014 and is the co-chair of the University System of Georgia Alcohol and Substance Abuse Task Force.

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Underpinning the foundation of giving will help to position for an important giving initiative. The university’s first major campaign will bring much needed resources to the university for need-based scholarships for students.

Perhaps most prevalent is her dedication to international education and global opportunities for students and faculty. She is known to frequently ask her students if they have their passport yet – and insists they do so before they graduate.

Under her leadership, SSU launched a special degree in global logistics and international business, the only one of its kind in the state. It places a particular emphasis on understanding globalization and supply-chain management as they apply to the region – home of the Port of Savannah, recognized as one the most strategic ports on the East Coast.

One of her first projects was to establish a scholarship for learning overseas. It resulted in the largest study abroad enrollment in SSU history. More than 50 students learned in eight destinations around the world.

In 2014, President Dozier paved the way for a Confucius Institute to be started on campus. The network of Chinese language and culture education outposts stems from a partnership with Jiujiang University in China. She restored educational ties with universities in Ghana. This outreach allowed for exchange programs and experiential learning opportunities. Those connections were strengthened this spring when a group of educators – from both SSU and the public school system – embarked on a month-long cultural immersion trip to the African country. The journey was funded by a Fulbright-Hays grant and was a collaborative effort to bring rich ethnic information back into local curriculum.

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During her administration, SSU’s international presence has spread dramatically. SSU now shares Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) with 32 institutions in 14 countries. Each semester, SSU welcomes more than 70 international students to its Savannah campus, enriching the experience of the entire student body. President Dozier is ensuring SSU students are prepared to be global citizens.

Highlights

  • President Dozier founded Closing the Gap, a scholarship fund that provides one-time financial assistance to graduating seniors who have an outstanding balance of $1,500 or less. Students who receive these funds are in good academic standing with the university, have demonstrated good character and have exhausted all other financial aid possibilities.
  • Since 2011, the SSU National Alumni Association has chartered five new chapters in 8 states and President Dozier visited alumni chapters and groups in 15 cities during her first 12 months in office.
  • President Dozier has overseen the addition of two new science buildings, currently under construction. A new marine sciences building will include deepwater access and the chemistry and engineering technology building will add 30,000 square feet to campus learning spaces.

This article first appeared in Impressions, Fall 2016

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