Piedmont marks 122nd year with Convocation service
Piedmont College freshmen, faculty, and staff gathered in the chapel Tuesday for a Convocation service to mark the start of the college’s 122nd year and celebrate the institution’s largest ever first-year class.
President James F. Mellichamp welcomed the nearly 300-member class of 2023, which represents 16 states and three countries. Associate Vice President for Undergraduate Enrollment Cindy Peterson noted that the freshman class boasts an average high school GPA of 3.44, and some 20 percent of the new students entered Piedmont with dual enrollment and AP credits.
During a 20-minute address that quoted Jesus Christ and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rev. Dr. Bernice Powell Jackson urged attendees to embrace and love their neighbor regardless of religion, sexual identity or nation of origin.
“The current idea of neighbor is too small for the 21st century,” she said. “We must enlarge our idea of neighbor…often our neighbors are the very people we’ve been told to be afraid of.”
Powell, a civil and human rights activist who has served as pastor of First United Church of Tampa (Florida), urged members of the freshman class to “use your skills to make the world a place of peace, harmony, and love.”
Total enrollment at Piedmont’s Demorest and Athens campuses is 2,584, compared to 2,498 last year and 2,368 in 2017. The college’s record student body and rise in rankings point to Piedmont’s growing profile in the region.
In July, James Magazine, a popular Georgia magazine that covers politics, business, and education in the Peach State, ranked Piedmont as the top private college in Georgia. Wallet Hub, a popular personal finance website, recently ranked the college as the fifth best institution of higher learning in Georgia.
“Piedmont is a thriving, dynamic institution,” said President Mellichamp. “Our enrollment is steadily increasing, and we continue to add new academic programs that match the interests and demands of students and parents. Around the state and region, our leaders, and prospective students and parents are taking notice.”
Vice President for Academic Affairs Daniel Silber also recognized 1,889 Piedmont students who received academic scholarships and grants that are valued at $12.5 million.
Piedmont College President James F. Mellichamp looks on as Rev. Dr. Bernice Powell Jackson delivers the keynote address during Tuesday's Convocation.