Dr. Daniel J. Kaufman has announced his plans to step down as president of Georgia Gwinnett College, effective June 30, after serving in that position since 2005. He has accepted the position of president of the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce.
“President Kaufman was the right choice to lead Georgia Gwinnett College at its founding," said Hank Huckaby, chancellor of the University System of Georgia (USG). “Under his leadership, the college opened and has lived up to expectations at the state and local level to provide access and to create a new model for higher education in the 21st century. On behalf of the University System, all of us are proud of what has been accomplished in only seven years under his leadership. He will be missed, but we are excited his talents will continue to serve Gwinnett County and the State of Georgia.”
In October of 2004, the Board of Regents voted to create a new four-year college in Gwinnett County. Kaufman was hired in 2005 as president of the then-unnamed college, which would inhabit facilities once occupied by the Gwinnett University Center, a consortium of several state institutions.
Kaufman wasted no time in forging community partnerships, engaging local business leaders in discussions about curriculum choice, recruiting the college’s trustees and leading the formation of its Foundation. He quickly hired administrators, faculty and staff willing to take a chance on the new institution and implement Kaufman’s vision of the “college of tomorrow.”
Georgia Gwinnett College opened its doors to 118 students on August 18, 2006, as the nation’s first four-year public college founded in the 21st century, and the first four-year public college established in Georgia in more than 100 years. It received accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools in record time, and established 12 degree programs with more than 40 concentrations.
Since its inception, Georgia Gwinnett College has been devoted to the implementation of an integrated educational experience for all students. With a dedicated focus on student success and emphasis on faculty mentorship, it has achieved unusually high retention rates, particularly among groups underrepresented in higher education.
Now in only its sixth academic year, GGC enrolls over 9,000 students and is succeeding in a number of success measures, debuting in U.S. News and World Report’s 2013 College Compass’ top 10 Southern public colleges at number six.
As of this year, Georgia Gwinnett is one of the USG’s 10 largest institutions, and its most diverse. More Gwinnett students choose GGC than any other college or university. This year is the college’s first of international student enrollment, and the Grizzlies are in their first year of intercollegiate athletic competition.
More pertinent to the college’s mission are its results in the 2011 National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE). In this study, GGC’s students rank it in the top 10 percent of colleges nationwide in four key categories – the level of academic challenge, active and collaborative learning, supportive campus environment, and student/faculty interaction outside of the classroom.
The campus itself has experienced dramatic growth. During Kaufman’s tenure, GGC built a library and learning center, a student center, a parking deck, three student residence halls, a laboratory building and recently broke ground on a $30 million, 91,000-sq. ft. Allied Health and Science building. It is in the final stages of construction on its intercollegiate athletics complex. With the acquisition of additional existing buildings adjacent to campus, the college’s total facilities measure well over one million square feet.
The college has become an economic engine for the Gwinnett area, with an estimated economic development impact of more than $508 million since opening. It employs almost 1,000 people and indirectly created about 2,250 jobs in Gwinnett.
“I cannot adequately express my appreciation to GGC’s faculty, staff and students, as well as our incredible partners – the Board of Regents, the chancellor, the University System office, our trustees, Foundation, Gwinnett legislative delegation and of course, our many community supporters,” said Kaufman. “Together, we have built a unique college that has proven that higher education can indeed be transformed, a college that will change lives for many decades to come, and a college that will forever enrich our community, state, nation and world.”
Information regarding the search to replace Kaufman will be made available at a future date.
“Dr. Kaufman’s infectious enthusiasm and inspiring dedication to students have been the hallmark of his tenure as president,” said Stas Preczewski, vice president for Academic and Student Affairs. “The college will forever feel his impact, from its core values to even the color of our buildings’ bricks. GGC is the result of his remarkable vision and tireless spirit. It is a fitting and everlasting tribute to his leadership that our students named the college’s mascot in his honor – General.”
Richard Tucker, a member of the USG Board of Regents, has witnessed the college’s growth since its beginnings.
"The University System and Gwinnett County were extremely fortunate to attract an individual with the proven abilities and experience of Dan Kaufman to launch a new model of learning with Georgia Gwinnett College," said Tucker. "He not only led the creation and startup, he achieved full accreditation in record time. His leadership will be missed, but we are pleased he will now provide leadership to another great organization, the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce."
Before assuming his duties as GGC president, Kaufman was a brigadier general in the U.S. Army, serving as dean of the Academic Board and chief academic officer at the United States Military Academy at West Point, a position from which he retired in June 2005. In his capacity as the chief academic officer, he was responsible for the design and implementation of the academic program at West Point. Previously, Brigadier General Kaufman served as professor and head of the Department of Social Sciences, and director of International Relations and National Security Studies. A prolific author, his most recent book is Understanding International Relations.
Kaufman graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1968 and was commissioned a second lieutenant of Armor. He also holds a master’s of public administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and a doctorate in philosophy in political science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the International Studies Association, and the American Political Science Association. Upon retirement from active duty, Kaufman was honored by the British government as an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (O.B.E.).
Kaufman’s military service includes tours with cavalry and armor units in the United States and Vietnam, where he received the Bronze Star for heroism and two Purple Hearts for wounds sustained during combat. He also has served as a member of the National Security Council staff in the White House and in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. He served as a Special Assistant to three Chiefs of Staff of the Army. He also was a member of the Department of Defense Presidential Transition Team in 1992. Brigadier General Kaufman also was engaged extensively in the development of the National Military Academy of Afghanistan, which opened in Kabul in April 2005.
An active member of the Gwinnett community, Kaufman is a member of the boards of directors of the Gwinnett County Chamber of Commerce, Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful, Gwinnett Coalition for Health and Human Services, the Community Foundation of Northeast Georgia, and of the Gwinnett Medical Center Foundation. He also serves on the board of trustees of Riverside Military Academy in Gainesville and the Partnership Gwinnett Steering Committee.