To the people of Tifton and Tift County,
On July 1, 2001, you welcomed my wife, Kim, our son, Rees, our daughter, Morgan, and me to your community. My assignment as assistant dean for UGA’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences – Tifton Campus is what brought us to town. The research, teaching and public service conducted there is done in support of Georgia agriculture.
That first year Rees was attending ABAC. Morgan attended and graduated from Tiftarea Academy and later attended ABAC. Kim taught in the Tift County School System and later worked at Moon’s Pharmacy. We quickly found ourselves happily engaged in the community in which we lived, worked and worshipped.
In May of 2006, I was selected as ABAC’s 10th president, closing out a 20-year career at UGA. The past 16 years at ABAC have been a remarkable finish to a 40-plus year career in higher education. Kim and I enrolled at ABAC in 1976, formally met in Rosalyn Donaldson’s literature class and enjoyed several other classes together. Married in 1979, the romance that began at ABAC 45 years ago lives on today.
Much has changed over the past 21 years but the key ingredients that make this community a great one live on – its people.
As I recount the years I think of partnerships, friendships, sweat and persistence that have allowed Tifton, Tift County, UGA and ABAC to prosper. Together, we have greatly enhanced educational opportunities not only for the young people of this community but for young people around the country and world. We have built buildings, rebuilt buildings, improved roads and driven economic and cultural development.
Serving the nearly 4,000 students who attend ABAC each semester requires that ABAC hire faculty, staff and administrators, most of whom live and work in this community. And, for any of you who have sent students off to college, you know that those students spend money. Lots of money. Hence, ABAC’s economic impact on this community is plus or minus $400 million annually.
Don’t forget the ABAC graduates who work in the state’s largest industry, agriculture. How about the ABAC nursing graduates who care for you at Tift Regional? Consider also all those other students and graduates who settle here because they grow to love the community while they are enrolled at ABAC.
ABAC has been a personal alpha and omega for Kim and me, beginning our lives together here and then ending a great career in education and public service. Thank you for welcoming us to your community.
As we leave to return to a simpler life at the farm, I ask simply that you welcome your new ABAC president, Tracy Brundage, and support her as you did me.
David and Kim Bridges