Joseph invested as third president of Georgia Gwinnett College
Dr. Jann L. Joseph was invested as the third president of Georgia Gwinnett College at a formal ceremony Friday on the college’s campus. The room boasted formal academic regalia, intermixed with decorative touches representing Joseph’s Caribbean roots.
One of the oldest traditions in academia, an investiture is a formal ceremony that “confers authority and symbols of high office.” The time-honored ceremony is typically held during, or at the conclusion of, the president’s first year in office. While Joseph became GGC president in July 2019, the COVID-19 pandemic delayed her investiture.
A first-generation college graduate, Joseph thanked her family, including her parents, now deceased, for their stressing the importance of education to her and her siblings. Joseph was born in Trinidad, West Indies, as the youngest of five siblings. Although neither parent completed elementary school, they valued the power of education to transform lives for generations. Her parents’ encouragement and sacrifices inspired Joseph to serve in higher education.
“They did the impossible and found a way to give us something they didn’t have – something they could barely understand and could only dream of,” she said.
Joseph also displayed gratitude to the GGC community, members of the University System of Georgia (USG) Board of Regents and delegates from other USG schools and elected officials – all who came to celebrate the school and its newly installed president.
Among them was Dr. Sonny Perdue, whose first official act as USG chancellor was to place GGC’s presidential medallion on Joseph. The medallion symbolizes the office of the GGC presidency and includes the engraved names of all GGC presidents to date.
This was not Perdue’s first official act at GGC. In May 2005, the former Georgia governor signed the law creating what would later be known as Georgia Gwinnett College, the nation’s first four-year, public college founded in the 21st century.
“Folks, that means I was here at the hospital when it [GGC] was born,” he joked.
Perdue explained that GGC and higher education institutions play a critical role in our society. These institutions prepare students to improve their quality of life, to become valuable members of the workforce and to give back to their communities.
“Georgia Gwinnett is adding to the proud tradition of educating students and contributing to the prosperity of families and communities who it strongly supports,” he said. “And that makes having a good leader all the more important.”
Joseph proved her mettle as a leader as she led the campus through a global pandemic, a period of national civil unrest and a war waged across the ocean that has local ramifications. Today, she’s focused on the path forward. As she closed her speech, she outlined her vision and what she sees as GGC’s future.
“By 2030, our graduates will be in leadership roles throughout this county,” she said. “The value of what we offer will be very apparent. We will sustain our access mission and also be recognized for our incredible, valued-added mission as our retention and graduation rates steadily increase.”
Joseph was quick to stress that she’s not going it alone. Citing an African term, Ubuntu, which in Zulu means, “humanity” and is translated to “I am because you are,” Joseph related the term to the community that comprises GGC.
“GGC is......because we all are.”