Provost to become the president of Berry College

Stephen Briggs, provost and vice president of Academic Affairs, is leaving the College after six years of service to accept the presidency of Berry College in Mount Berry, Ga.

During his career at the College, Briggs worked with faculty members and deans to complete the academic transformation and develop the College’s strategies for the future.

Briggs said he will leave the College community with memories of teamwork.

“We have been able to do far more than most institutions because of our willingness to insist on ways of working together,” Briggs said. “My greatest accomplishment was the opportunity to gather and work with a lot of folks who are like-minded.”

Briggs said he enjoyed his interactions with people at all levels – from students to College President R. Barbara Gitenstein – because they implemented the framework for a great educational experience.

“(We built) a collaborative enterprise that has allowed us to make some dramatic changes in a way that will benefit students and teacher-scholars for years to come,” he said.

Briggs said that he learned a lot as provost but there are two lessons in particular that stand out. First, “the importance of being clear and focused with regard to what is important, and to invest your time, energy (and) resources in helping achieve that,” he said.

Second was that you “don’t have to be right all the time and you don’t have to have things go your way all the time because in the end, it’s more important that there is a whole group of people that come to a consensus,” Briggs said.

In her campuswide e-mail announcing Briggs’s departure, Gitenstein wrote that Briggs was “a remarkable provost.” “Now Berry has recruited a remarkable president,” she wrote. “He has clearly made a lasting mark on our community and his leadership and energy will certainly be missed.”

Briggs said that Berry College is similar in ways to the College. He said that while Berry is private, the missions of both colleges are alike.

“Berry is distinctive in its own way,” he said. “It has historically been about providing education of head, heart and hand.”

Briggs said that Berry is very good when it comes to integrating work experience into the entire educational experience. How Berry “seek(s) meaning and purpose,” along with “good work ethic and a great academic experience,” is something that interested him, he said.

As for what his experience at the College can bring to Berry, Briggs said: “A real focus on faculty as teacher-scholars and creating ways and means to bring that to life in work they do with students.”

Briggs will finish out the semester as provost and begin at Berry in July. According to the president’s office, an interim provost will be appointed while a national search for a new provost is held.

“I hope to watch from a distance, (and see) the institution continue to embrace the kinds of experience and culture that we worked hard to create in these last five or six years.”