Daniel: Education is a power tool
As Dr. Andrea Daniel prepares to enter her fourth year as President of Athens Technical College (ATC) this spring, she says that she doesn’t label herself as a “female president,” only as “president.”
“While I certainly hope to see more female leaders in the community and I encourage more female presidents, I do not think of myself as a female president,” she said.
As the result of hard work and ambition, Daniel has moved up the ranks while at ATC over the past two decades. She first starting as the Director of Student Affairs at the Elberton Campus’ Operations Center located in the old Regions Bank building while the Elberton Campus was first being built.
This April marks her twenty-third anniversary of working at the college.
It didn’t take long for Daniel to learn the Banner Student Information System and start inching her way toward the top.
She previously took on roles of Registrar, Executive Director of Public Relations, Vice President of External Affairs, Vice President of Student Affairs, Vice President of Economic Development and eventually Executive Vice President of the college before she was named President.
But Daniel says that being named president wasn’t something she had her eye on at first. “It was something (former President) Dr. (Flora) Tydings saw in me,” she said.
As a born and raised Elberton resident, Daniel’s educational background that began locally at Elbert County.
She graduated from ECCHS before beginning her collegiate academic career at Lander University, earning a B.A. in Political Science and History.
After finishing her undergraduate degree, Daniel moved to Athens to complete a M.A. in Public Administration at the University of Georgia.
From there, she went on to intern for Georgia Senator Sam Nunn and worked as a senior analyst for the Atlanta Regional Commission. While working for the Atlanta Regional Commission, she was involved with the departments of education and transportation.
“When I was working with the Department of Education I caught the technical college bug,” Daniel said jokingly.
After she began her career at ATC, Daniel further pursued her education by completing her doctorate in Business Administration from Northcentral University.
“My combined education in public and business administration has served me well,” Daniel admitted.
It’s clear to see that Daniel loves her job as president and believes in what the college has to offer.
“I want for Athens Technical College to be referred to as a college, not just a technical school. While we do focus on vocational and work force training, we are multi-faceted and our credits transfer to universities throughout the state and the country,” she said. “ATC has so much to offer. It’s often taken for granted. We have great faculty, a wonderful partnership with the University of Georgia and the academic rigor to prepare students.”
Daniel noted that the college has seen significant progress recently and that enrollment is up 35% since she first took on her presidency.
“With enrollment up during a good economy… that’s huge,” she said. “We usually see numbers up when the economy is down and jobs are hard to find, but enrollment up during a good economic time means the college is getting more visibility.”
Daniel credits the success of the Elberton campus to her team (including Executive Vice President of Economic Development Al McCall) and a strong relationship with the Chamber of Commerce, the mayor and city council, and the county chairman and commissioners as well as the legislators who represent ATC including Representative Tom McCall.
“We continue to work with our community and we want people to know we’re here,” she said.
“I’ve seen her explain to students the purpose of service,” said McCall. “She helps students understand that cycle. The perspective she gives me is to work as a team for a common goal … I appreciate the opportunities that she has afforded me. I caught that (technical college) bug too. It’s very infectious.”
McCall encouraged Elbert County residents to “not take for granted” that the president of Athens Technical College is from Elberton. “She knows the ins and outs and that means a whole lot,” he continued.
“We offer a support system and we’ll meet our students at any level,” Daniel commented. At Athens Technical College, we work to break down barriers,” Daniel said.
Daniel has broken down a few barriers herself, as only 30% of college presidents are women though women represent 56.5% of college students across the United States.
While Daniel has served as president, ATC’s Elberton campus has added several programs, including an $8.2 million agriscience building that will be built in the next 18 months. The college’s agriculture program will be completely offered on the Elberton campus and is fully articulated with UGA.
“That is a game-changer,” Daniel said.
Daniel also said that the expansion of the nursing program, including a mega-science lab and an evening License Practical Nursing program is now offered in Elbert County.
More successful programs offered at the Elbert County campus include EMT, welding, diesel mechanic, industrial systems, general education, cosmetology and commercial driver’s license.
The college is also set to start a new conservation law program to help train Department of Natural Resource officers.
“We’ve seen significant progress recently,” she said.
According to Daniel, “Education is a power tool.”
“It can change cycles and solve problems. I watch families live their dreams because of the education they have gotten at ATC.”
Daniel’s number one philosophy as president is to ask herself, “Is this the best thing for our students?”
“And that’s our mission, serving students and the regional workforce” she said.
“I love our students,” Daniel raved. “We have tremendous students who are here to work and gain a career. I’m blessed to have this position and for the leadership that I’ve had to get here.”
Out of the 11 counties that are within ATC’s service area, Daniel said she sees “positives in every county” that she represents.
Though she spends much of her time on the Athens campus and traveling for the college, Daniel still proudly calls Elberton home and lives here with her husband, daughter and two dogs.
“When I come to Elberton, I come home,” she said.