A trailblazer through the decades: a talk with Dr. Bob Powell

Powell_7955-3 copy 2109 years since it was founded, the University of West Georgia (UWG) continues to play a significant role in the Carrollton community. Memorable events, visits from famous people and notable alumni shape the university’s rich history that continues to echo today. UWG students have been the driving force for UWG’s growth and success, but the professors, faculty and staff have made major contributions as well. While UWG has a long list of successful alumni that thrive in their respective fields, their success would not have been possible without the knowledge, skills and assistance from their professors, faculty and staff.

UWG has an environment that is education friendly as well as a comfortable place to work. Not only is it a work place for many of its employees, it is also their second home. Many employees have had 20 or more years here because of its friendly work environment.

One faculty member in particular has a career that spans almost 50 years. His investment and passion for education motivates him to continue teaching and molding young people.

Dr. Bob Powell is a physics professor and director of the University of West Georgia Observatory. He is one of the longest serving professors at the university and has been under five presidents.

“James Boyd was the president when I came here,” said Powell. “When he left in the 70’s, it was Pafford, Townsend, Sethna and now our current president, Marrero.”

Powell began his career at the university, which was then known as West Georgia College, in the fall of 1967 after completing his doctorate degree in Physics at Clemson University. He found out about West Georgia while attending a meeting at the American Physical Society.

I was at a meeting of the American Physical Society, when I met the department chair of the Physics Department at West Georgia College,” said Powell. “After that meeting I interviewed here as well several other schools.”

When Powell was first considering the school, he was impressed with the appearance and the mannerisms of the student body. He appreciated the work ethic and efforts of the student body at the time.

“Very nice students in the beginning, and I still have contact with a number of them. They worked rather hard, and I just enjoyed them.”

Powell has witnessed a considerable amount of growth in UWG since he started. The campus only consisted of Front Campus Drive, Back Campus Drive and the HPE Gym. He watched the building of Humanities, the UCC, Z-6, the Biology building, the TLC and the Coliseum.

“Everything north of Back Campus Drive is new since I’ve been here,” said Powell.

Other options did arise for Powell to pursue during his tenure at UWG. It was his concern for his family and their well-being that served as the main reason why he stayed at West Georgia.

“I did not pursue other options because I wanted to provide stability for my family,” he said. “I felt that stability was needed for my children, which is why I stayed in Carrollton.”

While he often reflects on his past experiences at the university, he is proud of the tremendous impact it has had on the Carrollton community as well as the current growth and expansion of UWG.

“It is an exciting time for the university. We are entering into a different time of mission, and there is certainly potential here for tremendous things to occur,” said Powell.

His education philosophy is based off of hard work and dedication no matter the circumstances. He uses the same philosophy as teacher as he did as an undergraduate and graduate student, and he expects students to work hard, read their textbook, complete homework and be prepared for the test.

Powell is excited for the future of UWG. While it has experienced remarkable change since 1967, he hopes it holds on to some of its features from the past.

“I hope that as we grow that we do preserve some of the features of the small college of 2,700 that were enrolled when I came,” said Powell. “I would like for it to continue to being a friendly environment for students, for faculty to continue working with students, the outreach continue to grow and that we will have a place in the future.”



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