Russell Vandiver, who has worked at Lanier Technical College for 34 years, was appointed the new president of the school Thursday afternoon.
Commissioner Ron Jackson announced the selection during the monthly meeting of the state board that oversees the Technical College System of Georgia. Board members gave their unanimous approval.
“He’ll be bringing experience and passion, which he has shown in the past,” said Technical College System board member Dinah Wayne of Flowery Branch. “He will see things to fruition and he will begin many new things. He’s very innovative.”
Jackson, meanwhile, hailed Vandiver’s devotion to growing the college into a “world-class destination.”
“He’s a nationally recognized expert on work force training and economic development and has a firm grasp on the expectations of the businesses and industries that depend on the college’s highly skilled graduates for their work force,” Jackson said.
Dennis Stockton, Dawson Community News group publisher, who currently serves as chairman of the Lanier Tech board of directors, said Vandiver is more than qualified.
“I’ve been part of the Lanier Tech board for nine years. As chairman this year, it’s been a pleasure to be able to work with someone who has the experience, the local background and the base of knowledge that Russell has,” Stockton said. “He’s going to do a great job in leading the college.”
Vandiver, 57, is successor to Mike Moye, who left in February to become president of Central Georgia Technical College in Macon. Vandiver has served as the college’s interim president since then.
During the course of his career at Lanier Tech, Vandiver served most of his time as vice president for economic development. He said he has seen the campus grow from one building in 1976 to five campuses and 13 buildings today. Last year, the college saw a 21 percent increase in enrollment to 6,850 students.
“Seeing things that have evolved helps,” Vandiver said. “I’ve been closely aligned with industries bringing jobs here.”
In 2007, the Georgia legislature issued a proclamation that declared Vandiver the dean of vice presidents of economic development throughout the Technical College System of Georgia. Vandiver will continue his duties as vice president for economic development for a short time, he said.
As vice president, Vandiver managed Lanier Tech’s customized contract training for more than 2,500 businesses and industries. He has also coordinated the college’s delivery of training through Quick Start, a program that has contributed to the creation of more than 30,000 jobs throughout Northeast Georgia.
Vandiver said his attention now will turn to gaining a second accreditation for the college that will make transfers easier for students. He also is working to accelerate marketing and branding for the school.
“I’m very honored to the have this opportunity,” Vandiver said. “I’m looking forward to taking the college to another level.”
Though his new position requires longer hours, Vandiver said his wife Laura, their son Josh and his wife Amanda, and two grandchildren are a great support system.
“I’ve got a wonderful family,” Vandiver said. “They have accepted this is important for me in this time in my life. I’m not sure you could do it without that support."