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Senate resolution would honor Gainesville State president
Gainesville judge Smith, NGCSU softball team also to be cited by legislature
Martha Nesbitt, Gainesville State College president, speaks during an informal meeting with a group of randomly selected faculty and staff members Wednesday. She’s one of several local people to be recognized during the 2011 legislative session. - photo by Tom Reed

For Martha Nesbitt, it was a complete surprise.

Four state senators drafted Senate Resolution 197 this week to honor the Gainesville State College president, her accomplishments and several recent awards.

She's one of several local people to be recognized during the 2011 legislative session, including Gainesville Judge Sidney Smith and the North Georgia College & State University softball team.

"It happens all the time. The chambers are always recognizing people, almost every day," said J.D. Easley, press secretary for the Georgia House of Representatives. "It's very common, like a historical tradition, for state officials to recognize individuals who make this state great."

Lawmakers tend to introduce more recognition resolutions at the beginning of the session, he said.

"It's not like it stops them from passing legislation and getting the job done," Easley said.

"But as we get farther into the session, we do see fewer resolutions because they are concentrating on bills."

Sen. Butch Miller, R-Gainesville, introduced the resolution to recognize Nesbitt and sees importance in spending some time on thanking community members.

"These folks contribute to the quality of life experienced in this state," he said. "In my view, it is a valid question to ask why we spend taxpayer dollars and time doing this. These are the more pleasant aspects of legislation, and now is the time to dispense with the lighter topics."

As more bills are introduced and move through committees, legislators will turn to serious topics, he said.

"At this point in the session, we're still drafting legislation and doing the bulk of work in committees rather than the chamber floor," Miller said. "As each day moves forward, we see more and more significant legislation such as the HOPE scholarship, water and other topics that are crucial to debate."

Miller drafted the resolution this week to note Nesbitt's recent 2011 Girl Scouts Woman of Distinction Award, which she will receive March 15.

Miller asked senators in districts with a high concentration of GSC students to sign onto the resolution, including Steve Gooch, R-Dahlonega; Jim Butterworth, R-Clarkesville; and Jack Murphy, R-Cumming. Miller and Gooch are alumni of GSC.

"Martha Nesbitt has presided over an unprecedented growth of Gainesville State College and has had a tremendous impact on thousands of students," Miller said. "She has an impact not only on our town and county but also our region, and that's impressive."

Nesbitt was contacted by the Secretary of the Senate office Wednesday morning. She called the resolution "reaffirming" in light of recent controversial discussions on campus that have brought personal attacks against her, including the removal of a faculty picture from the campus art gallery.

"It really is very flattering," she said. "One thing I always look forward to each year is when the legislature takes the time to read out academic recognitions from each University of Georgia System school, and we frame the resolutions for our students at graduation."

Nesbitt plans to frame her own resolution, which is the first in her tenure as the first female GSC president.

"I was recognized by local resolutions when I first became president in 1997, but never by state representatives," she said. "This caught me off guard."


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