Kendall Blanchard will step down as president of Georgia Southwestern State University at the end of this year. (Special photo)
AMERICUS — Georgia Southwestern State University President Kendall A. Blanchard has announced has announced his plans to retire, effective Dec. 31.
“I have enjoyed my tenure at Georgia Southwestern and will miss the University and my many friends and colleagues who have made this job so pleasant,” Blanchard said. “While I have no crystal ball that allows me to see into the future, I am confident that the university will continue to prosper under new leadership.”
Blanchard was appointed as Georgia Southwestern’s interim president in January 2007. He served in that capacity until June 13, 2007, after the Board of Regents voted to make him GSW’s 10th president.
“President Blanchard came to Georgia Southwestern as the interim president, but his work so impressed the community, the university and the Board of Regents that the decision was made to name him the permanent president,” University System of Georgia Chancellor Hank Huckaby said. “His leadership and strengthening of the University in the ensuing years has validated that decision.
“On behalf of the Board of Regents and all of us in the University System, I thank President Blanchard for his service and wish him and Connie all the best in retirement.”
In 2008, GSW formed the South Georgia College Entry program, which brought more than 100 additional transient students to campus each year. Additionally, Blanchard formed meaningful partnerships with nearly every state two-year college and many state technical colleges, including South Georgia Technical College in Americus.
South Georgia Tech President Sparky Reeves and Blanchard created a campaign in 2008 called “Two Great Choices – One Great Community: Americus, Georgia – College Town” which has raised nearly $100,000 for higher education efforts in the community.
Among the many accomplishments under Blanchard’s tenure, two new master’s degrees were formed; the School of Business Administration earned AACSB accreditation; and international partnerships expanded to colleges in China, India, and South Korea, with the formation of a Korean branch of GSW’s Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving.
Approximately $40 million in capital funding was invested in a health and human sciences complex, a 300-bed residence hall, a new wing of the Marshall Student Center, and several building renovations.
Blanchard guided the successful transition of the Athletic Program from NAIA to NCAA Division II. The University also hosted a successful SACS visit in Spring 2014 with anticipation of receiving official word on re-affirmation in December.
Before Georgia Southwestern, Blanchard served as president of Fort Lewis College 1999-2002. While there, he completed two major building campaigns, secured the funds to complete two additional buildings, conducted a major marketing campaign that led to a new look and branding for the institution and saw the college’s enrollment reach a record high of more than 4,500 students. He served as vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Tennessee at Martin, Tenn., 1995-99. In all, Blanchard has served in higher education for nearly 45 years, working in higher education administration for 36 years.
Blanchard holds a Ph.D. and a master’s degree, both in anthropology, from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, earned in 1971 and 1970, respectively. He also earned a master of divinity degree in religion studies and anthropology from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., in 1968, and a bachelor’s degree in English, history and philosophy from Olivet Nazarene College in Kankakee, Ill., in 1964.
Blanchard’s wife, Connie, who also has a Ph.D., is retired with more than 35 years in higher education. They have five adult children and three grandchildren.
Information regarding the search for Blanchard’s replacement will be announced at a later date, officials say.