Greetings from Human Resources and welcome to our first ever Virtual Service Recognition Program!
COVID-19 has changed our lives in so many ways – AU Health has been on the front lines responding and caring for those with the disease, our faculty and students quickly shifted to 100% online learning for the Spring and Summer semesters, and our staff have continued to serve students, faculty and colleagues, even if from a home office. Our outstanding faculty, staff and students have continued to shine in this new normal!
Many of our typical Spring events, such as our service recognition ceremony, have not been possible due to our remote work and the requirements for social distancing. While we are not able to be together, we can continue to celebrate the accomplishments and service of others. To that end, please join us on this virtual celebration of you and your colleagues. Enjoy the photos and written comments! When you do get a chance to see your colleagues again, please congratulate them and let them know you celebrated with them on-line!
Thank you to our faculty and staff! Your amazing efforts to realize the mission and promise of AU continue to inspire!
— Norton, Susan A., SPHR, MS,Enterprise Vice President, Human Resources
“We may encounter many defeats, but we must not be defeated”
-Maya Angelou, Author
In just a few short weeks, Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Gretchen Caughman will leave the institution she’s called home for 35 years to begin her long overdue retirement.
I say long overdue because Dr. Caughman graciously agreed to postpone her departure earlier this summer at the height of the coronavirus pandemic to lead our faculty and students through the unprecedented and rapid transition of classes to online instruction. A heavy, heavy lift, many in Dr. Caughman’s position would’ve seen this as a sign. The perfect opportunity to end their decades long service to the institution and leave the stress and sleepless nights behind.
But not for Dr. Caughman. She would no sooner abandon her students and faculty in such a time of need than she would her own family, because for her, Augusta University is like family.
For those of you who know Dr. Caughman, I’m sure this comes as no surprise. Since first joining the institution in 1985, she has consistently served as a source of strength and perseverance for her students and faculty in times of tremendous uncertainty and change. If you’ve ever talked with her about those early years, you’ve noticed her light up as she thinks back on the “good old days” and being one of the first faculty members in Oral Biology, which was then located on the first floor of the School of Dentistry, or what is now Professional Building 1. She remembers having one of the first portable computers, which, due to the size, wasn’t portable at all and a long cry from today’s laptop computers.
After surviving those early years and holding faculty appointments in the schools of medicine, dentistry and graduate studies, Dr. Caughman made the leap into administration as associate dean of graduate studies. After five years in the role and the departure of the school’s top administrator, she was made dean in 2005. There, she quickly made a name for herself and, in 2010, was asked to serve as interim provost.
When asked about serving as chief academic officer in a period of rapid transition, one that included a split of the university and its health system, a consolidation and subsequent name changes, she is positive and upbeat. She’s appreciative of the opportunities she’s had to contribute and to be part of such dynamic change. While there’s no doubt that change of this magnitude is usually accompanied by stress, Dr. Caughman has always remained unflappable in the face of adversity. Knowing this stress personally, I’ve always admired her ability to bring calm and clarity to every problem she encounters. In this line of work, remaining patient isn’t always easy, but Dr. Caughman takes time to listen, avoiding hasty decisions and bad outcomes.
I think it’s safe to say Dr. Caughman has left her mark.
When asked about her legacy, she likes to joke and say she was quite busy in her last three roles: the first provost of Augusta University, the only provost of Georgia Health Sciences University, and the last provost of MCG. While she says this in jest, Dr. Caughman can be proud to know that she has, in fact, held all of these roles and, in so doing, contributed to the foundation and future of Augusta University. Her tenure is marked by some of this university’s most monumental successes including opening a new student housing complex; breaking ground on new facilities for The Dental College of Georgia, Medical College of Georgia, College of Math and Science, and School of Computer and Cyber Sciences; growing research funding to approximately $100 million annually; and expanding to more than 150 academic programs.
I’m grateful to Dr. Caughman for her leadership and service. My time as president has been made better because of her. She’s always served as a partner to me, and her knowledge and commitment have taken us to where we stand today. I will certainly miss her passion and comradery — things not easily replaced.
That said, I don’t expect retirement to slow her down any.
A talented quilter and Clemson fan, Dr. Caughman looks forward to spending more time with her husband, Frank, and her two adult sons. She may also find time to take a real vacation, something she hasn’t done in years.
From all of us at Augusta University, thank you, Dr. Caughman, for your humble dedication and selfless service to our institution. We wish you well in this new and most deserved chapter.
|Brooks A. Keel, PhD
President, Augusta University