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Builders of the University: See Georgia Southern’s retiree wall up close -- or online

Just off Sweetheart Circle, there's a beautiful and serene terrace dedicated to the hands and feet that built Georgia Southern University. Retirees from 1906 to 2020 are honored on the wall, which now has a virtual component that allows you to visit without ever leaving home.

Tucked behind Anderson Hall and the Marvin Pittman Administration Building just off Sweetheart Circle, you'll find a special tribute to many of the people who had a hand in making Georgia Southern University what it is today. 

The beautiful Builders of the University Terrace features a sprawling wall of plaques featuring the names, professions, and years of service for those who have retired from Georgia Southern since the school's founding in 1906. The names span the decades and iterations of the school, dating up to retirees in 2020.


The Statesboro Campus was founded in 1906 as a school for teaching modern agricultural production techniques and homemaking skills to rural school children. The First District A&M School began within two decades to shift its emphasis to meet the growing need for teachers within the state. Its name and mission were changed in 1924 to Georgia Normal School as a training ground for educators, though it continued to accept “preparatory” or high school students. Five years later in 1929, full-fledged senior college status was granted as South Georgia Teachers College.

Ensuing decades saw additional name and mission changes: to Georgia Teachers College in 1939 and Georgia Southern College in 1959. Continued program and physical expansion, including one seven-year stretch, 1984-91 in which enrollment doubled from just over 6,000 to more than 12,000 students, led to a final transformation in 1990 – to Georgia Southern University. --Georgia Southern, "Our History"

The Terrace and retiree wall were a project of the Georgia Southern University Retiree Association, which includes nearly 2,000 retirees from Georgia Southern and Armstrong State University. The project was created and spearheaded by Dr. Jay Norman Wells, who was a professor of mathematics at the University for 33 years.

To be recognized on the wall, retirees must have provided service to the University for a minimum of 10 years. It was dedicated in 1997.


Notable names on the wall

If you have a family member who worked for "Southern," like I do, it's no doubt a special and exciting moment when you find their name on the wall. Or maybe you worked there yourself, and it's probably even more exciting to find your own!

But even if you don't have a personal connection to anyone amongst the plaques, you'll notice names of former employees that will surely stand out. There are former presidents of the institution like Dr. Marvin Pittman, for whom the lab school was named; Dr. Zach Henderson, president during the time the school was desegregated; Dr. Dale Lick, who relaunched the GS Football program; and Dr. Nick Henry, who was the first president to serve under the name Georgia Southern University.


Athletic department retirees are included, too, and of course, there's a plaque for the late, great Erk Russell.

Other recognizable names are those for whom campus facilities have since been named. Yes, "Veazey" and "Landrum" are now in the vernacular, but they were actual people who walked the campus at one time! (Mamie Veazey was Dean of Women and retired in 1952; Blanche Landrum was a Dietitian who retired in 1938.)

I also spotted the plaque of Dr. Fielding Russell, a well-known professor (and brother of Richard B. Russell, Jr.) for whom Russell Union was named. Dr. Russell was a dean and professor of languages during his impressive tenure (1932-1975), and perhaps less well-known, was also a boxing coach for the school in the 1930s. W.S. "Shep" Hanner, who was the school’s faculty athletic chairman from 1935 to 1959 and for whom Hanner Fieldhouse was named, is also memorialized on the wall.

There are also big names from the Statesboro community, including Genaria Honeycutt "Honey" Bowen, who taught Health and Physical Education; Roxie Remley, who was a professor of art for more than 25 years; and Dr. Jack Averitt, who was Dean of Graduate Studies and the brother of Mayor Hal Averitt.


Honored in perpetuity -- and now on the Internet

No matter if a retiree's contributions to Georgia Southern were large or small, in 1906 or 1996, or whether you knew them or not, all of these people had a hand in building GSU -- and in turn, Statesboro -- into the stalwart it is now. These names tell the story and the legacy of the school and of our hometown.

The plaque at the base of the Terrace says:

The Builders of the University Terrace honors in perpetuity those faculty and staff who contributed in important ways to the progress of Georgia Southern University since its founding in 1906. Future generations will know that Georgia Southern University owes a debt of gratitude to the faculty and staff who served their students, colleagues, and community with distinction over many years. These retired faculty and staff are the Builders of the University.

What now bridges the University's past to the present is the brand new website for the Terrace, which helps to honor these former employees. The website may be searched by retirement year or by name to view virtual retiree plaques, which are freely available for download on the site.


So while a visit to the wall itself is a beautiful walk down memory lane that I highly recommend you make time to take, you can now see the plaques of your loved ones and other notable retirees from the comfort of your computer screen, too.

Georgia Southern historians put it best when they said, "When First District Agricultural & Mechanical School’s inaugural academic year began in 1908, few could have foreseen a major American university growing out of four faculty members and 15 students in just a little more than one lifetime."

But it has. And we have these Builders of the University to thank for helping it flourish.

Visit the retiree wall online here:, or in person, just down the walkway to the left of the Marvin Pittman Administration Building at 1770 Southern Dr., Statesboro.