Professor uses position to inspire community
Serving as an endowed professor takes nonstop commitment, collaboration, communication and campus and community support across all disciplines and professions.
The position also requires a distinctive personality — a person who is passionate about excellence in scholarship, research productivity and providing leadership and engaging learning opportunities inside and outside the classroom.
“An endowed professorship is a chance for a faculty member to bring a niche area of distinction into Georgia College,” said Dr. Rosalie Richards, Georgia College’s first Kaolin Endowed Chair in Science. “The Kaolin Endowed Chair in Science allows me to work with various disciplines to provide science-related possibilities for people of all ages.”
What the professorship is:
The Kaolin Endowed Chair in Science is an esteemed position in higher education. Established during 2001, the kaolin industry of Middle Georgia and Georgia Eminent Scholars Endowment Trust Fund at the University System of Georgia (USG) created the professorship to support science education at Georgia College.
Several local kaolin companies contributed approximately $700,000 to establish the Kaolin Endowed Chair in Science and Science Education Outreach Program fund.
The Georgia Eminent Scholars Program at USG matched those funds with a $500,000 contribution for the endowed chair in Georgia College’s Department of Chemistry, Physics and Astronomy.
Kaolin, known as “china clay,” is a white, alumina silicate used to produce products such as plastics, paper, paints and rubber. It is one of Georgia’s largest natural resources.
“Science is integral to our lives, education and economy,“ Richards said. “The professorship offers opportunities to explore the many realms of science.”
Holding this position, Richards is the founding director of Georgia College’s Science Education Center, a resource center dedicated to excellence in science teaching and learning.
The center partners with local, state and national organizations to provide diverse professional development for faculty, students and K-12 teachers; scientific research experiences for students; scientific competitions; summer campus; community events; and program development.
Why she fits the position:
Richards started teaching science at age 18 in her homeland of Antigua in the West Indies.
“I learned early in life that in science the boundaries are boundless,” the science scholar said.
Richards earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry with physics from the University of the Virgin Islands in U.S. Virgin Islands and a doctorate in chemistry from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.
Before joining the faculty at Georgia College, Richards worked as an educational consultant at Drew University of Medicine and Science in Los Angeles; served as the first Model Institutions for Excellence Fellow in Chemistry at Spelman College in Atlanta; and co-developed the Program in Physical Science, a program funded by the Office of Naval Research that significantly increased the number of women of color graduating with degrees in chemistry and physics at Spelman.
“I learned about the endowed chair position while teaching at Spelman but dismissed it as a ‘dream job,’” said Richards. “Fortunately, my resume was in the American Chemical Society’s database. Now, I’m contributing to Georgia College’s liberal arts mission through science education.”
Connecting the numbers:
Dr. Rosalie Richards works alongside a range of students, faculty, staff, community members and state and national
agencies to provide engaging science-related opportunities at Georgia College. Throughout the academic year she collaborates with:
- Approximately 250 faculty and staff members across campus;
- More than 100 students in her classrooms each semester;
- Roughly 300 participants of the Science Education Center’s summer science academy, including camps, teacher workshops, research programs and academic programs;
- More than 31 counties to foster projects and partnerships; and brings in
- Approximately $600,000 per year in funding for science education through partnerships with individuals and organizations.
Visit gcsu.edu/science to learn more about science at Georgia College.