Georgia Council of Graduate Schools Spring 2018 Conference in Macon April 19-20, led by GCGS President, Dr. Loretta Clayton

The Georgia Council of Graduate Schools (GCGS) held its fifth annual conference and meeting at the Marriott City Center Hotel in Macon on April 19-20, 2018. Dr. Loretta Clayton, Director of Graduate Student Policy and Support at Middle Georgia State University, is the 2017-2018 GCGS President. She organized the two-day academic conference of panel discussions covering topics ranging from strategies to mentor and engage graduate students in conversations about developing new and innovative graduate programs and establishing strong partnerships within and across institutions. The Keynote speech was delivered by Robert Trammell, Minority Leader of the Georgia House of Representatives. Trammel is the son of the long-time Dean of Faculty and VP for Academic Affairs Robert Trammell, Sr. of the former Macon Junior College and Macon State College. The conference also featured the inaugural GCGS Three Minute Thesis (3MT) Showcase, as master’s and doctoral students throughout the state presented their work as recent winners of 3MT competitions at their home institutions of Georgia State University, the University of Georgia, the Georgia Institute of Technology, and Kennesaw State University.

 Dr. Clayton also conducted the GCGS business meeting, which concluded the conference. This is her second year serving on the GCGS Executive Committee. During her tenure as GCGS President, Dr. Clayton organized the GCGS fall meeting of institutional representatives on the Macon campus of Middle Georgia State University in October of 2017; broadened the annual conference to ensure graduate student participation; and oversaw a revision of GCGS bylaws and an expansion of the Executive Committee with a new position of Communications Officer. She will continue to serve on the GCGS Executive Committee in the 2018-2019 year in the role of Past President.

Dr. Clayton remarked that “the GCGS Conference is a premier networking and scholarship event that afforded the opportunity to bring together in downtown Macon administrators, faculty, and staff who work in graduate studies across Georgia to share best practices, knowledge, and expertise.” Several special guests attended the conference reception on Thursday evening including Macon’s newest Regent, W. Allen Gudenrath, of the USG Board of Regents; Dr. Christopher Blake, President of Middle Georgia State University; MGA Provost, Dr. Jonathan Anderson; and Mr. Albert Abrams, MGA Chief Governmental and External Affairs Officer.

Middle Georgia State University has had an active role in the Council since the institution began to offer graduate programs in the spring of 2016. According to Dr. Kevin Cantwell, MGA Associate Provost and Dean of Graduate Studies, “an administrator from a partner institution in our region commented that he could not believe how much Middle Georgia State University has been transformed” since the earlier days of Macon State. 

MGA faculty who presented at the conference include Dr. John Girard, Dr. Myungjae Kwak, Dr. Neil Rigole, Dr. Scott Spangler, Dr. Johnathan Yerby, and Graduate Assistant Mr. Mark Riepe, representing MGA’s Master of Science in Information Technology Program; Mr. Jerry Williams, representing MGA’s Master of Science in Business; and Dr. Chip Rogers, representing MGA’s Graduate Certificate in Technical Writing and Digital Communication. Dr. David Biek, Dean of MGA’s School of Education and Behavioral Sciences, and Dr. Loleta Sartin, Chair of the Department of Teacher Education and Social Work, also attended the conference, as did Dr. Amy Berke, Chair of the English Department, Dr. Donna Ingram, Chair of the Nursing Department, Dr. Kendra Russell, Director of Program Innovation & Evaluation in Nursing, and the Graduate Admissions Specialist, Ms. Liz Douglas. They were joined by other MGA faculty and staff whose work in student success and library research serves graduate students in Information Technology, Nursing, Business, Education, and Technical Writing. Funding from the MGA Foundation and the Office of Graduate Studies made possible the robust participation of MGA faculty and staff in this year’s conference.

Learn more about The Georgia Council of Graduate Schools (GCGS) fifth annual conference.

For more information about The Georgia Council of Graduate Schools (GCGS), please visit the GSGS website

For more information about graduate programs at MGA, please contact the Office of Graduate Studies by phone at 478.929.6712 or by email at

PHOTO INFORMATION: Pictured are members of the 2017-2018 GCGS Executive Committee with Keynote Speaker Representative Trammel. From left to right: Dr. Gale Starich, GCGS Treasurer (Dean of the Graduate School, Brenau University); Dr. Lisa Armistead, GCGS Vice President (Associate Provost for Graduate Programs, Georgia State University); Dr. Loretta Clayton, GCGS President (Director of Graduate Student Policy and Support, Middle Georgia State University); Representative Robert Trammell, Minority Leader, Georgia House of Representatives; Ms. Nikki Palamiotis, GCGS Secretary (Assistant Dean of Graduate Studies, Kennesaw State University); Dr. Leslie Sharp, GCGS Past President (Associate Vice Provost for Graduate Education & Faculty Development, Georgia Institute of Technology).