Gratitude Gala Honors Key Donors

Four principal supporters of Armstrong State and Georgia Southern were recognized at the inaugural Gratitude Gala Donor Awards held last May at the Perry Lane Hotel in Savannah. They were honored for their investment in initiatives that benefit students and the multi-campus University. In his remarks, Vice President for Advancement Trip Addison paid tribute to the longtime donors. “The Gratitude Gala represents the coming together of donors from both institutions,” Addison said. “We recognize those whose generosity and philanthropic spirit has helped elevate our university. Helping our students has always been their top priority.” 

Three people and one corporation were the recipients of the 2019 Gratitude Gala Donor Awards.

four gala awards on a table
(l-r) Georgia Southern University President Kyle Marrero, Georgia Power representatives Truitt Eavenson and Ronny Just, Gail U. Reed, Donald Anderson and Trish Carter, who accepted an award on behalf of Betty Foy Sanders.

Donald Anderson

President’s Ambassador Honoree

Donald Anderson, Ed.D., (’59) received the award for his support of the athletics department. He began his career at Armstrong State in 1966 and served as an associate professor, acting head of the Department of Education and several other roles. “I especially enjoyed serving as registrar and director of admissions, 1986-92,” Anderson said. “It was pre-online registration. In fact it was pre-computers period, but it was very satisfying work.”

 Looking back on his career, Anderson said his favorite memory is of graduation each year. “It was such a pleasure to see students you had assisted receive their degrees,” he explained. Anderson joined the athletic department in 1992 as an academic advisor for student-athletes and was inducted into the Armstrong State University Athletic Hall of Fame as a Citation Award winner in 1996 for his service and philanthropy. Armstrong honored him further by awarding its top male and female student athletes with the annual Dr. Don Anderson Scholar-Athlete Award. The President’s Ambassador Honoree said the most valuable lesson learned during his tenure at Armstrong is that “capable persons, working together, with mutual respect can accomplish much.”

Betty Foy Sanders

2019 President’s Visionary Honoree

When Betty Foy Sanders attended Georgia Southern, it was a teachers’ college, so she transferred after a year because it didn’t offer the art degree that she wanted. Still, the Statesboro native has been dedicated to the University and its faculty for more than 50 years.

“This honor from Georgia Southern means the world to me,” she said. “As a youth, I lived four blocks away. Over the years, I have become friends with many of the past presidents, faculty and students. I have followed the growth of GSU closely. It is always an honor to be recognized for your loyalty to friends, family and state.”

When her husband, former Georgia Gov. Carl Sanders was in office, she dedicated her efforts toward the construction of several fine arts buildings within the University System of Georgia, including the Foy Fine Arts Building on the Statesboro campus. Her gifts enabled the university to name the art department the Betty Foy Sanders Department of Art. She has endowed scholarships, as well as student art travel and visiting artist funds. In addition, her artwork can be seen throughout numerous buildings on campus and in the Center for Art and Theatre. Sanders said students continue to inspire her.

“I have received many thank you letters from them over the years,” she said. “They share how these experiences have broadened their borders, and their eyes have been opened to new possibilities. Many of these students came by at my last exhibition to thank me and tell me what they are now doing after graduating. We have so much talent! It inspires me to see them using their talents to contribute to the world around them making it a better place to live.”

The President’s Visionary Honoree decided to end her thank you for the award with the poem, “My Influence,” which has become her trademark over the years. 

“My life shall touch a dozen lives before this day is done;

“Leave countless marks for good or ill, Ere sets the evening sun.

“So this the wish I always wish, the prayer I ever pray; 

Lord, may my life help other lives it touches along the way.”

Gail Reed

Legacy Member Honoree

Gail Reed, a native of Augusta, Georgia, was honored for her deferred charitable commitment to the Parker College of Business and the School of Accountancy. Reed, a longtime supporter of Georgia Southern, has served on the boards of several university organizations and endowed a scholarship for accounting majors in the University Honors Program. The Georgia Southern alumna says her legacy gift to the University will go a long way toward helping students and faculty. 

“Someone once asked me why I wouldn’t spread my gift to several charities,” she said. “I told the person that by leaving my entire estate to Georgia Southern there would a much bigger impact than splitting my gift. Even though my parents were not wealthy, they had enough money for me to attend Georgia Southern. I know that not everyone is this fortunate. My accounting education and career started in Statesboro, which lead me to be the successful person I am today. It is only fitting that Georgia Southern should be the beneficiary of my prosperity.”

Reed owns Gail U. Reed, CPA, PC, a public accounting practice that specializes in accounting and taxation for individuals, businesses and estates.

Georgia Power 

President’s Innovator Honoree

Georgia Southern, Armstrong State and Georgia Power have a long history of partnership. Georgia Power has been a loyal supporter of both institutions by providing annual funds to be used in the areas of greatest needs. In addition, Georgia Power endowed the Georgia Power Chris Hobson Honorary Scholarship for outstanding chemistry students. The company recently outlined a 20-year plan focusing on the delivery of clean, safe, reliable and affordable energy. As such, they have turned their attention to funding scholarships in the area of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.Truitt Eavenson, the Southeast Region vice president for Georgia Power, and Georgia Southern alumnus Ronny Just, the governmental relations manager for Georgia Power, attended the ceremony.

“Like Georgia Southern, we have an interest ultimately in student success,” said Eavenson. “Sometime that means funding research, or scholarships to help with the last financial hurdles toward graduation. Often it means providing them with meaningful employment. This partnership benefits us as much as it does the University.” 

Eavenson called the Gratitude Gala Donor Award from Georgia Southern an honor and an exclamation point for the many efforts of many Georgia Power employees over the years with the university.