It’s official: after 44 years, Dr. Jim Southerland, is “REEEEEEE-tired!”
Although the university commemorated the occasion at the faculty and staff appreciation day ceremony May 7 in Pearce Auditorium. President Ed Schrader quipped that “officially” in this case probably means “never.” Most of the people in the audience, he noted, were not born when Southerland taught his first class at Brenau, and even those other honorees with decades of service to the university have never known a Brenau without Southerland.
Southerland started his career on the history faculty at Brenau while he technically was still finishing up his own student days as a University of Georgia graduate student. He tried retiring once, but Schrader pulled him back in as interim, then permanent, provost and vice president of academic affairs. With the arrival of Dr. Nancy Krippel in that post, he tried to make good on another escape, but got pulled into a special assignment to help complete feasibility studies for the most suitable academic programs in the current expansion to develop new health care professions doctoral programs. Recently, Southerland has been working on a book about his engagement with history in his early life and his thoughts on Brenau. The tentative title is Reflections of a Sharecropper’s Son.
“My 44-year tenure at Brenau University touched on six decades,” he said, “and during that time it has been a privilege, an honor and a pleasure to work with wonderfully talented faculty members, students and staff members at Brenau.
“I didn’t think there was an appropriate opportunity to say this yesterday at the faculty recognition program. I would have been too emotional, and there were so many deserving individuals to honor. I want to thank those of you who were present for your sentiments. I greatly appreciated the standing ovation that you gave me. It has been a wonderful journey but, as they say, all good things have to come to an end. I had my day in the sun, and now I will move toward the sunset and into a new phase of my life. I look forward to the opportunity to travel more and spend more time with my family – especially my seven grandchildren.”
“I wish you all well and hope to see you around in the future.”