The University of North Georgia (UNG) celebrated the investiture of President Michael Shannon with a trio of events Nov. 10. University System of Georgia (USG) Chancellor Sonny Perdue performed the official investiture during a morning ceremony, followed by a military review in Memorial Hall Gym and a picnic at Pine Valley Recreation Complex.
“He’s betting big on working with students, faculty and staff to seize this opportunity to impact more lives, to build on the strength of the University of North Georgia and the communities that call it home,” Perdue said. “In his words, ‘It’s students first and always.'”
Videos of support from Gov. Brian Kemp and first lady Marty Kemp; previous colleagues; UNG students, faculty, staff, and trustees; Shannon’s mother; and his four children played on the videoboard in Lynn Cotrell Aena at the Convocation Center.
The Board of Regents of the USG named Shannon as UNG’s president on June 1, and he took office July 1. A retired U.S. Army officer, Shannon most recently served as interim executive vice president for Administration and Finance and interim chief business officer at Georgia Institute of Technology.
In his investiture address, Shannon highlighted three essential elements for UNG as it faces the current challenges in higher education: answering the university’s calling, changing to meet the state and nation’s needs, and a commitment to enhancing the trajectory of students’ lives.
“We have delivered for 150 years, but our best days are ahead of us,” Shannon said. “We will be held accountable to our impact.”
Georgia Tech President Ángel Cabrera highlighted two stories that showed Shannon’s commitment to excellence. Cabrera noted Shannon’s unwavering drive while leading Georgia Tech’s COVID-19 response, a project that required a flexible and innovative approach.
Cabrera also pointed to how Shannon helped launch an effort to fly a flag at Georgia Tech’s Veterans Resource Center when veterans who were alumni died and then mailing their family the flag. Cabrera held a stack of hand-written thank you letters from family members who appreciated the gesture.
“None of that was part of his job description,” Cabrera said. “These are important things that needed to be done, and he took charge and got these things done.”
Lt. Gen. Paul Calvert, ’88, deputy commanding general of U.S. Army Forces Command, served as the reviewing officer at the military review. He expressed gratitude for the leadership Shannon has already shown at UNG, and Calvert encouraged everyone at UNG to continue shaping the next generation.
“Making investments in people is the most important thing we can do,” Calvert said. “I am a product of the investment of the leaders of this university in me.”
Shannon emphasized the importance of UNG’s role as the Army’s senior military college and the Military College of Georgia.
“We are the vanguard of American values and leadership,” Shannon said. “Now more than ever, America is calling UNG to do more. We will deliver for America like never before.”
Emma Mitchell, Student Government Association president, was one of those who offered her congratulations in a video message.
“The culture you’ve begun to cultivate at UNG in your short time here has opened doors beyond what many of us ever could have imagined,” Mitchell said. “Your vision and passion for students encourage us to be a little bit better every day.”