A. Spring 2017 Class Notes


Brooks A. Keel (BS ’78, PhD ’82) All of us have warm memories of our university’s home city of Augusta. Augusta is growing and changing, and our university’s partnership with this community is deepening every day.

The pace of change in Augusta is about to accelerate in an exciting way.

In January, Gov. Nathan Deal announced that Georgia will immediately invest $50 million for a world-class cyber range and training facility in Augusta. This is a transformational investment in our city.

A portion of our Augusta University Riverfront Campus will be home to the 150,000-square-foot Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center. Construction is slated to begin soon with completion expected in about 18 months. When complete, the center will house multiple public and private entities, including our own Augusta University Cyber Institute.

This visionary investment in the security of our state and nation will usher in a range of exciting opportunities for our region, our state and our university and, along with the federal relocation of the U.S. Army Cyber Command to Fort Gordon, will further position Augusta as a national epicenter of cybersecurity and education.

Augusta is already home to a number of cybersecurity assets with the establishment of the Army’s Cyber Command headquarters in Augusta and a growing number of cybersecurity education and training programs.

With some of the nation’s most talented and elite cyber professionals educated and trained in Augusta, the local community will benefit tremendously from increased tax revenues and consumer spending.

I congratulate Gov. Deal for his visionary leadership on the critical issue of cybersecurity and thank him for his investment in our state and local community. We’re in for an exciting ride as we help create the Augusta of the future.


Brenda E. Bell (BSN ’66) has been published in the International Nurses Association’s Worldwide Leaders in Healthcare.


Dr. Ben Jernigan Jr (DMD ’76) has been elected president of the Georgia Dental Association. Jernigan has been a member of the GDA since 1982 and has served in multiple officer positions at both the state and district levels. Before being elected president, Jernigan served as the GDA’s Northern District Dental Society president.

Dr. Sharon H. Pappas (BSN ’75) has been named the chief nurse executive for Emory Healthcare. Pappas received her BSN from the Medical College of Georgia, her MSN from Georgia College and her PhD in nursing from the University of Colorado.

Gov. Nathan Deal has appointed Dr. Jean Sumner (BSN ’73, MSN ’74) to the Board of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities. Sumner earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in nursing from the Medical College of Georgia and a medical degree from Mercer University.


Dr. Julia Behr (BSN ’88), former assistant dean for the Augusta University College of Nursing at Athens, has been named dean of the R.H. Daniel School of Nursing and Health Sciences at Piedmont College. Behr served on the Augusta University College of Nursing-Athens faculty for more than 22 years. She earned her Doctor of Nursing Practice from the University of Alabama–Birmingham.

Gov. Nathan Deal has appointed Dr. Susan Blank (MD ’85) to the State Commission on Narcotic Treatment Programs. Blank is the founder and chief medical officer of the Atlanta Healing Center and president of the Georgia Society of Addiction Medicine.

Mamie Coker (BSN ’82) was named Georgia’s 2017 School Nurse Administrator of the Year by the Georgia Association of School Nurses at the annual educational conference June 12, 2016, in Savannah, Georgia. Coker has 33 years of nursing experience with 23 years as the coordinator for Hall County Schools in Georgia.

Dr. Phillip Palmer (MHED ’83) assumed the role of founding director of the Physical Therapy Program at the Georgia Campus of the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine on June 1, 2016. Palmer has 40 years of experience in physical therapy.

Beverly Barshafsky Peltier (BBA ’86), director of institutional advancement for Augusta Technical College and executive director of the Augusta Technical College Foundation, has been  named the 2016 Outstanding Fundraising Professional by the CSRA Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. In 2007, Peltier was recognized by the Georgia Educational Advancement Council with the Outstanding Newcomer Award for Educational Fundraising, the first technical college advancement officer to be recognized by
the organization.

Dr. Jeffrey S. Plagenhoef (MD ’87), chairman of the Department of Anesthesiology at Baylor Scott & White Hillcrest Medical Center in Waco, Texas, has been named president of the American Society of Anesthesiologists, the nation’s largest organization of physician anesthesiologists. Plagenhoef has been an influential leader of the Alabama State Society of Anesthesiologists since 1997, where he has served as president, payer liaison, legislative liaison and member of its executive committee and board of directors.

Beth Weagraff (BSN ’82) has been named vice president of post-acute care development and implementation for Adventist Health System. Weagraff holds a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the Medical College of Georgia, where she graduated magna cum laude, and a master’s degree in business administration from Webster University, where she graduated summa cum laude.


Best-selling author Jeb Blount (BBA ’92) was the keynote speaker at Augusta University’s December commencement. Through his companies – Sales Gravy, Channel EQ, and Innovate Knowledge – he advises many of the world’s leading organizations and their executives on the impact of emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills on sales, leadership, customer experience, channel development and strategic account management.

Ethlyn McQueen Gibson (MSN ’97) was awarded the Excellence in Leadership Award by the Virginia Nurses Foundation on Sept. 24, 2016, in Richmond, Virginia. Gibson was selected from among multiple nominees across the Commonwealth of Virginia for her work in geriatric care. Gibson is the manager for clinical performance at Riverside PACE (Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly), part of the Riverside Health System.

Dr. Richard J. Harp (MD ’98) has been named chief of staff at Spartanburg Regional Medical Center in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Harp is a partner in Upstate Carolina Radiology where he practices interventional radiology. He also served as chairman of radiology and is co-founder of the Southern Vascular Institute.

A Scythe of Time, with music and lyrics by

Mark Alan Swanson (BA ’93),  received the 2016 New York Music Festival/Stage Rights Publishing Award. Swanson was also a recipient of the 2016 Distinguished Alumnus and Presidential Alumnus awards for the Pamplin College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.


Dr. Jason Hamilton (DMD ’00, DFRI ’01), director of advanced education in general dentistry at The Dental College of Georgia, has been inducted as a fellow into the International College of Dentists, the preeminent honor society for dentists in
the world. 

Thomas Ireland (MD ’08) has accepted a pediatric neurologist position at Children’s Hospital at Erlanger in Chattanooga, Tennessee. After completing the pediatric residency program and a pediatric neurology fellowship program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Ireland completed additional fellowship training in clinical neurophysiology with special emphasis in pediatric epilepsy at Emory University in Atlanta.

Lynne A. Shrader (MEd ’00) has been appointed principal of Oakwood-Windsor elementary school in Aiken, South Carolina. Shrader brings more than 30 years of classroom service and educational experience to her new position.

Dr. Rebekah Taylor-Wiseman (BA ’07) is an assistant professor of English at Brenau University. She received her MA from Middle Tennessee State and PhD in English from Kent State.

Corey Washington (BA ’03, MEd ’06) accepted an award for the estate of Jimi Hendrix, for his induction into the R&B Hall of Fame. Washington is the author of three non-fiction books, including his latest on Hendrix called Nobody Cages Me. Washington has been studying Hendrix for 20 years. Look for his forthcoming book on Hendrix, tentatively titled Jimi Hendrix – Black Legacy (A Dream Deferred), in 2017.


Aida Castany (BBA ’16) has been named the new head coach of the women’s tennis team at Wagner College in New York. Castany brings a wealth of tennis experience and instruction to the Wagner program, which has put together back-to-back winning seasons, and joins the Seahawks after service as a tennis professional at SPORTIME in Amagansett, New York, where she taught private and group lessons to adults and children.

Dr. Carolyn A. Curtis (MD ’13) has been appointed assistant professor in the Department of Family and Community Health at Marshall University’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine in Huntington, West Virginia. Curtis holds an undergraduate degree in religion from Furman University.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Dentistry has selected
Dr. Scott De Rossi (MBA ’16)
as dean of the School of Dentistry. De Rossi was most recently the chair of the Oral Health and Diagnostic Sciences Department at The Dental College of Georgia at Augusta University.

Dr. Brooke Elmore (DMD ’11) has been inducted as a fellow into the International College of Dentists, the preeminent honor society for dentists in the world. Elmore has received her Mastership in the International Congress of Oral Implantologists and her Fellowship in the Academy of General Dentistry. In 2011, she was voted as one of Augusta’s Top Dentists.

Adrienne Kambouris (BS ’16), who is pursuing an MD/PhD at the University of Maryland Baltimore, has been named a Tillman Scholar. The Pat Tillman Foundations Tillman Military Scholars program supports our nations active duty and veteran service members and their families by removing financial barriers to completing a degree or certification program of choice.

Travis Walden (BS ’15) has been promoted staff accountant at Serotta Maddocks Evans, CPAs. Travis has been with SME since 2014, when he started as a runner, and was then promoted to an intern before becoming staff accountant.


Billboard magazine’s Top Tune

“End of the Road,” Boyz II Men

Oscar-winning film


On Campus

The Jaguars women’s volleyball team still holds the PBC record for most aces per set, at 3.20 from the 1992 squad.

In the News

Singer Paul Simon is the first major artist to tour South Africa after the end of the cultural boycott. President of the United States George H.W. Bush meets with President of Russia Boris Yeltsin at Camp David, where they formally declare that the Cold War is over. Douglas Adams completes Mostly Harmless, the last book in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series. The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson airs its final show on NBC.

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