Georgia Piedmont's new president begins this week

Clarkston -- Georgia Piedmont Technical College's new president will begin this week.

The state board that oversees the Technical College System of Georgia approved Dr. Jabari Simama to be the next president of the college. It was the recommendation of TCSG Commissioner Ron Jackson.

Simama's appointment is effective Saturday. He fills the vacancy left after the retirement of Dr. Robin Hoffman in July 2011; Larry Teems, the college's executive vice president, had been serving as the acting president of GPTC.

"I'm very grateful to Larry for the great work and outstanding leadership that he's provided for the students, faculty and staff of Georgia Piedmont Technical College over the past year," Jackson said.

The recommendation came after Jackson created a 13-person search committee to chose three candidates for consideration.

It was chaired by DeKalb County Superior Court Judge Gregory A. Adams, who is also a member of the college's board of directors. The committee members included Denny Dobbs, owner of Dobbs Environmental and a former member of the Georgia House of Representatives from Covington; Conyers Mayor Randal S. Mills; Dr. Flynn Nance, president of the Honey Creek Veterinary Hospital in Conyers; and Jerry Silvio, president and CEO of Silvio Development Company and a GPTC board member; among others.

Simama has been the chief of staff for DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis since 2010. He is the chief policy advisor and senior officer in the executive office that serves 740,000 county residents and manages a $1.5 billion budget and 7,000 employees. He was the county's deputy chief operating officer of development from 2009 to 2010.

Simama was the vice president for community development and external relations at Benedict College in Columbia, S.C., from 2005 to 2009. Before that, he was the executive director of community technology for the City of Atlanta from 2000 to 2005. He was the City of Atlanta's chief of the office of marketing and communications from 1998 to 2000.

Simama has taught at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Clark Atlanta University, Morgan State University, University of Cincinnati and Atlanta Junior College, now Atlanta Metropolitan College.

Simama held elected office as a member of the Atlanta City Council from 1987 to 1993. He also served as an appointed member of the Metropolitan Atlanta Olympic Games Authority, which provided financial oversight for the Atlanta Olympic Games Committee's $2 billion budget.

Jackson said that he was impressed with Simama's experience, knowledge of the community, and vision for the college.

"Dr. Simama has a strong background in management that crosses a broad spectrum of executive roles in higher education, government administration and the private sector," Jackson said. "His diverse experience, coupled with his deep ties to the local community and a strong passion for higher education, will enhance Georgia Piedmont Technical College's mission to deliver a highly-skilled workforce for the region's businesses and industries."

Simama has a Ph.D. in American Studies from Emory University. He earned his master's from Atlanta University, now Clark Atlanta, and his bachelor's from the University of Bridgeport.

GPTC, which was previously known as DeKalb Technical College, has its main campus in Clarkston and several other locations serving Newton, Rockdale, DeKalb and Morgan counties.

Last year, GPTC enrolled 8,061 students in diploma, degree and certificate classes. It is the 11th largest institution among the 25 TCSG facilities.

Along with the main campus in Clarkston, the college has another campus in Covington, education centers in Conyers and Doraville, an adult education facility in Clarkston, and a commercial truck driving training facility in Lithonia.

In addition to a wide array of credential programs, GPTC provides workforce training for new and expanding businesses and industries through the TCSG's Quick Start program. GPTC also partners with the Rockdale County School System and the Newton County School System to deliver college-level programs to high school students at the Rockdale Career Academy and the Newton College and Career Academy.

The college also delivers adult education programs, including GED preparation and testing, throughout its service delivery area.