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Nesbitt to retire from helm at Gainesville State College
President has been with college since 1997
Martha Nesbitt
Martha Nesbitt

Martha Nesbitt will mark her last day as president of Gainesville State College on June 30, after 14 years leading the institution.

“I plan to stay in Gainesville because this community has been awesome to me,” she said.

She said after years of working in the community, she will soon have the time to dedicate to further involvement in organizations including the Health Systems Board, Rotary Club and the Northeast Georgia History Center.

“I’m not actually retiring until June, but I wanted to go ahead and announce it. It takes a good nine to 10 months to get a new president,” Nesbitt said. “I wanted to allow for a smooth transition.”

Much was accomplished at Gainesville State during Nesbitt’s tenure, but she says these accomplishments are not hers alone but those of the entire college community.

“One of the thing’s I’m most proud of is we’re the first college in the (University System of Georgia) to become tobacco free,” Nesbitt said.

From 2000 to 2010, Gainesville State experienced a 174 percent enrollment increase. The Oconee campus in Watkinsville was built in 2003. Nesbitt also saw the institution change names and mission as it transitioned from Gainesville College to the state college it is today.

For her final year at Gainesville State, Nesbitt has plans to make the new academic building home, even if it’s just for a few months. She’s also working to help the college get its Southern Association of Colleges and Schools reaffirmation, a process that will be well in place by the time a new president is chosen.

It will be several months before a search committee is developed to find a new president, but Nesbitt said she expects the committee to do a national search. Prospects have not been discussed yet.

Former University System of Georgia Chancellor Stephen Portch praised Nesbitt’s work with Gainesville State.

“When you think of Martha Nesbitt, you think of boundless enthusiasm, deep commitment, true loyalty, genuine compassion and tireless work ethic,” Portch said in a news release. “That’s why she became a transformative president for (Gainesville State).”

Though she’ll be gone from her post, Nesbitt has no plans to abandon the school altogether.

“I’ll always support the college and help it in any way I can, but I’ll do my best not to interfere,” she said.