|A New Era|
|Friday, 01 March 2013 11:02 | Written by Valerie J. Morgan|
Jabari Simama installed as Georgia Piedmont Technical College’s third president
CLARKSTON—Dr. Jabari Simama was sworn in as the third president of Georgia Piedmont Technical College during an inauguration service on Feb. 27 at the college’s DeKalb Campus Conference Center in Clarkston.
Simama is the first African American to take the helm of the college, an institution offering training in 120 occupations to more than 14,000 students enrolled in nine centers of learning in DeKalb, Newton, Rockdale, and Morgan counties. Simama was named president of the college in August 2012, and assumed office on Sept. 4, 2012, following the retirement of GPTC’s former president, Dr. Robin Hoffman.
The Rev. A.G. Miller, who delivered the invocation, said Simama, whom he has known since kindergarten, was an extraordinary leader beginning a new era for the college. He recalled Simama as an athlete who ran track, played football as a wide receiver in his younger days and craved technology and writing poetry as an adult.
“This is a new era. It is truly significant in the history of DeKalb County and Georgia Piedmont Technical College,” said the Rev. A.G. Miller, professor of Religion Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio. “Dr. Simama will certainly be remembered as one of the best and brightest leaders.”
Elected officials from four counties attended the inauguration, including DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis; Ellen Warren, chairman of the Morgan County Board of Commissioners; Richard Oden, chairman/CEO of the Rockdale County Board of Commissioners; and Keith Ellis, chairman of the Newton County Board of Commissioners.
“I can think of no person better to lead this institution than Dr. Jabari Simama,” said Ellis, who worked closely with Simama, who left his position as chief of staff in DeKalb County government to lead the college. “The future of this school is in good hands. He brings passion, vision, desire and excitement.”
Simama, who took on an African name when he met his wife, Nisha, said in his inaugural address that it was important to remember the college’s past as it moves into the future. “As we venture into the new chapter of the wonderful story of Georgia Piedmont Technical College, I am reminded of the Sankofa bird,” Simama said. “The bird looks behind it, with the egg of the future in her beak, constantly checking as she moves into the future. The word Sankofa is of the Akan language of Ghana; when translated in English, it means to ‘go back and get it.’ More, specifically, it means to go back and reclaim our past so we can move forward, so we can understand why and how we came to be who we are today.”
Ron Jackson, commissioner of the Technical College System of Georgia, introduced Simama. Greetings from college presidents were delivered by Dr. David Swinton, president of Benedict College in Columbia, S.C., where Simama once served as vice president for community development and external relations.
The ceremony also included videotaped greetings from Congressman John Lewis and Hank Johnson.
Delivering words of welcome in person were:State Rep. Michele Henson; Dr. Lynn Cornett, chair of the state board of directors of the Technical College System of Georgia; Simama’s wife, Nisha, along with other family members, attended the inauguration. The Simamas’ daughter, Ndelea Simama, delivered a poetic tribute to her father.