Grantham is true asset to Adams State

(11-11-2008)

Article by Linda Relyea with special thanks to Liz Martinez

A self-proclaimed "instrument of change," Dr. Georgia Grantham certainly walked-the-talk at Adams State College. Named dean of the Extended Campus in 1999, Grantham took a five-employee department and enhanced its state and national recognition.

Less than ten years later, Extended Studies involves 30 on-campus employees and numerous off-campus faculty and directors serving more than 16,000 students. Adams State Extended Studies has become a state-wide model for distance and continuing education. In addition to distance degree programs, Extended Studies tailors degrees and professional development courses for public school across the state.

A devotion to education has marked Grantham's entire career, which began as a high school teacher.

"Every graduation was a 'notch in my gun.' I've probably attended over 100 graduations - high school and college-and I am so proud to be there and be a part of it," she said. Teaching, developing programs and departments, leading staff members, and even politics fill-out Grantham's resume - and she inspired many through the years.

"Georgia is a phenomenon," said Liz Martinez, program director Extended Studies. "I started working for her in 2003 and my world has never been the same since. She taught me to listen more than I speak and continually reminds me to partner both internally and externally to the common good. But most of all, she reminds me to always value and enjoy my work. Her external networks are both extensive and impressive. I'm honored to work with her and to be her friend."

Dr. Sandra Starnaman, who served as Extended Studies director of curriculum, then succeeded Grantham as assistant provost for Extended Campus, called her "a true professional. She is passionate about her work and the goals of Adams State. She is dedicated to those with whom she works and stands up for those she supervises. Who she is as a professional reflects who she is as a person. She is honest, hard-working, and caring."

Taking college to the students

"When I came to Adams State, I felt like I died and went to heaven," said Grantham. "We are instruments of change in helping people achieve their goals. We took on special projects, certificate programs...Extended Studies experienced the whole show."

One of the more successful programs developed while Grantham headed Extended Studies, is the Rural Education Access Program (REAP). After completing an associate's degree at a community college, students in rural communities are able to complete a bachelor's in either elementary education or business administration through Adams State at their local campus. REAP degree-completion programs are offered at Lamar Community College, Otero Junior College, Puelbo Community College, and Trinidad State Junior College. Elementary Education Teacher Preparation Program (EETPP) is a similar program offered at Arapahoe Community College and Morgan Community College.

"We are still graduating people from REAP, even though it wasn't expected to last more than one or two cohort groups," Grantham said.

"Georgia was one of those unique individuals who could identify educational needs and meet them in an academically sound manner," said Dr. Tom Gilmore, emeritus professor of business. Her offerings always had the highest educational rigor and still met the needs of those who received the training."

Grantham led her team to offer education opportunities within the Colorado Department of Corrections and expanded the slate of professional development courses for educators. Through Extended Studies, Adams State credit is offered with such partners as the American Museum of Natural History, the Public Broadcasting System TeacherLIne, TeachStar Online Academy, and Virtual Education Software, Inc.

"I listened to what my constituents needed. I kept an eye on economy, and planted seeds." Grantham credits her staff for their dedication. "The program through the PBS Program is successful because of Liz (Martinez). She took on the responsibility to make it happen."

Grantham made a great impression on educators around the state. "Georgia Grantham epitomizes all that is Adams State," said Peg Portscheller, educational consultant and former teacher and superintendent. "Her dedication to, and passion for, opportunity and access, equity and excellence was evident every day in every encounter with every person and, indeed, even when no one was looking. Her commitment to, and love for, Adams State, its faculty and students, is unequaled. And, likewise, her commitment to public education as the great equalizer has been the hallmark of her career in both K-12 and higher education. Adams State was fortunate to have her leadership and vision."

Randy Black, director of Member Relations at the Colorado Association of School Boards, described Grantham as "deep, powerful, quiet, humble, wise, trustworthy, highest integrity, all-out pursuit of excellence, and servant leader...What a privilege being around the richness of Georgia Grantham."

"Since I retired from competition and entered education, Georgia Grantham has been a fixture in my activities across the state," said Dan Maas, chief information officer of Littleton Public Schools. "Somehow, she always knew when I had changed jobs and was always so helpful in getting courses organized for professional development efforts. It has been amazing how quickly she can navigate the waters of higher education to get approvals."

After five years at Adams State, during which she was promoted to assistant provost for the extended campus, Grantham was named Vice President of Enrollment Management. When offered the VP post, Grantham "really had to think" about changing her role at Adams State.

"My ultimate goal was to maintain and improve academic quality and the integrity of the institution."

Under her guidance, Enrollment Management refined services at the new One Stop Student Services Center, which consolidates student administrative services conveniently in the Student Union Building. "It was a pretty huge change for the college. It did have some issues to work out but we have made a lot of progress with it."

First love: teaching

Grantham began her career as a business teacher and vocational director at Sangre de Cristo High in Mosca, Colo. After 14 years there, she moved to the Salida School District.

Grantham said she enjoys working in smaller regions, where you "always see the big picture and all the pieces come together. You don't see the big picture in huge areas."

Karla Hardesy, project manager for enrollment management, has known Grantham for almost 20 years. "I couldn't have had a better role model and mentor. While I was in high school, Georgia ran a very active Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) program and guided our small Salida High School to state every year with the largest delegation of students. She challenged students to be their very best and always helped students connect to new opportunities."

Along with a goal of becoming a better teacher at the high school level, Grantham also applied her enthusiasm at the college level. She taught courses for Colorado State University and the School of Mines as an adjunct faculty member. Grantham also extended her forte to the policy side. She was the first policy fellow for business education for the State of Colorado, representing the state in travels to Washington, D.C. She was named Colorado Business Teacher of the Year and served on board of directors for the Future Business Leaders of America, and was one of the directors of the Salida Chamber of Commerce.

Grantham's next step in her career was assistant superintendent for Salida. These new duties included heavy grant writing, which brought millions to her district. Grantham worked closely with then Lieutenant Governor Gail Schoettler on the State of Colorado Education Reform Efforts.

"Salida was a model site, among the top ten, and I was awarded the Colorado Gold Leadership Award. It was a great experience, to be amongst the midst of politics in Colorado," Grantham said. Grantham is very proud of her name on the cornerstone for the Salida Middle School. "I helped float and pass the bond election. I was the construction manager for the middle school. It was a very big deal for the school district and me."

Grantham earned her Doctor of Philosophy in vocational education/human resource development, cognate area in administration, from Colorado State University; her Master of Arts in curriculum and instruction, from the University of Northern Colorado; and her Bachelor of Arts in office and business administration from Western State College.

"My sister, Dr. Georgia Grantham, has dedicated her life to educating children and adults," said Alice Walker. "I have been blessed to have been close to watch and share in her career. She has also been a wonderful wife, mother, aunt and now a very loving grandmother. It has been a privilege to not only have my sister but my best friend."

"She works hard, never complains and has always taken on any challenge placed before her," Hardesty said. "It has been a real privilege to work so closely with such a motivated and inspiring woman."

Now "retired," Grantham is once more involved with Extended Studies as a part-time strategic educational consultant, connecting the college with various entities to develop new courses/programs.

Grantham and her husband, Kirk, have one son, Dustin (Kim) and a granddaughter, Kayli.

"Dr. Georgia Grantham, my aunt, is a woman of such strength, character and wisdom," said Tamara Walker. "She has been a mentor and a tremendous influence in my life."

"I have loved every minute of my career," Grantham said. "And I am not ready to give up. I want to be of service."

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By Linda Relyea