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Ceremony set for newly named buildings at GSC
Structures to be named after Watkins, Strickland
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Gainesville State College plans to dedicate two newly named academic buildings on campus Tuesday.

The buildings will be named after early supporter Loyd Strickland and a former school president, J. Foster Watkins.

The ceremony, which is open to the public, is set for 2 p.m. in the Student Center.

The University System of Georgia Board of Regents voted in April to name the Loyd Strickland Academic Building and the J. Foster Watkins Academic Building.

The Strickland building, formerly known as the Academic II Building, is home to the School of Social Sciences and includes classrooms, computer labs and offices.

Strickland was a member of a Hall County task force in the early 1960s that obtained permission from the Board of Regents to build a junior college.

He spearheaded both the passage of a local bond referendum and the building of the college.

Over the years, he served on the College Foundation Board and was named an honorary life trustee.

His community work also extended beyond the campus, as he served on the state highway board and was a key player in developing Interstate 985, which is near Gainesville State.

The interchange that connects to the college via Mundy Mill Road bears his name.

Strickland also was an early supporter of Eagle Ranch, a Christian-based home for boys and girls in crisis.

During his professional career, he was a pioneer in the poultry industry as the founder of Chestnut Mountain Hatchery, which later became Crystal Farms.

The Watkins building, formerly known as the Academic III Building, was opened in 1996, or during Watkins’ presidency of then-Gainesville College.

It includes the Academic, Computing, Tutoring and Testing Center, which features math, foreign language and writing labs, and a 74-unit open computer lab. The Division of Mathematics & Computer Science’s computer labs, classrooms and offices also are in the building.

Watkins served as the second president of the college, his tenure running from 1983 to 1997.

During his tenure, colleagues in the American Association of Community and Junior Colleges’ Community College Leadership Program recognized him as outstanding chief executive officer in Georgia.

The college grew dramatically during his administration, with Academic III becoming the first new campus building since 1974.

Also built during his watch was the Continuing Education/Performing Arts building, which was completed in 1991.

That building houses the Gainesville Theatre Alliance, a collaboration between Gainesville State and Brenau University in Gainesville.

Watkins also oversaw an effort that allowed North Georgia College & State University in Dahlonega to offer bachelor’s degrees on the Gainesville campus.

By the end of his tenure, in 1997, the GSC Foundation had built an endowment of $4 million, the largest of any two-year college in Georgia.

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