Dr. Donald Gnecco, a longtime educator and professor of education in Maine, has been named Dean of the Piedmont College School of Education for its Athens, Demorest, and off-campus programs.
Gnecco brings experience in both K-12 education and higher education to his new role at Piedmont. A resident of Kennebunk, Maine, he has served as a teacher at both the elementary and secondary levels and as an elementary guidance counselor. He has held administrative positions as principal, special education administrator, and superintendent of schools; and he served on the staff of the Maine Department of Education.
Gnecco has taught at Notre Dame College (New Hampshire), where he was Dean of Education; at the University of Southern Maine; and most recently at the University of New England, where he was chair of the Department of Education.
“Our School of Education has always made it a point to seek out professors who have a mix of academic and real-world experience in the classroom and in administration,” said Piedmont President Dr. James Mellichamp. “Dr. Gnecco fits this model perfectly, and we are excited about the perspective on education that he brings. Piedmont also has a deep, historical connection with the New England area through former faculty members and administrators, and this appointment continues that successful tradition.”
Gnecco said he, too, was pleased to be selected after the nationwide search for a dean. “If I were to characterize what Piedmont does well, it is to provide personalized learning with a committed faculty,” he said. “In talking to students, they told me that the faculty members know them and are interested in their success. It doesn’t get any better than that.”
Moving from the seashore of Maine to the mountains of northeast Georgia was also a bit of a dream come true, Gnecco said. His parents had retired to the Toccoa area, so he was familiar with Habersham County. “I was actually born in Biloxi, Miss., but my father was in the Air Force and I was only there for 20 days. But I knew where my roots were, and it has taken me this long to get back.”
The School of Education enrolls the largest number of students at Piedmont, and currently includes about 1,400 students at the two campuses in Demorest and Athens and at off-campus sites across northeast Georgia. The college offers undergraduate education programs in early childhood, middle grades, and secondary education; and its graduate programs include Master of Arts, Master of Arts in Teaching, Education Specialist, and Doctor of Education degrees. As dean, Gnecco will oversee about 40 full-time faculty members.