TIFTON—Dr. David Bridges became only the second person in the 114-year history of Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College to receive the Abraham Baldwin Distinguished Service Award at the recent spring commencement afternoon ceremony.
At the morning commencement ceremony, Bridges received a full color book with a story and pictures covering his ABAC tenure as an appreciation gift from the students, faculty, and staff of ABAC. Bridges is retiring this summer after 16 years as the ABAC President.
Academic Affairs Jerry Baker presented Bridges with the Distinguished Service Award, which had only been presented once previously and that was to ABAC alumnus George T. Smith in 2007.
Smith, Class of ’40, is the only person in the history of Georgia to win contested elections to all three branches of state government. He served as Lieutenant Governor, Speaker of the House, and Chief Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court.
“Today’s award is being presented to a man who has spent the last 16 years of his life making our college and his alma mater better, much better,” Baker said. “President Bridges has moved ABAC from a two-year college to Georgia’s State College of Choice.
“We present this award in recognition of his unprecedented public service to our college and the state of Georgia, like that of the great statesman, Abraham Baldwin.”
Director of Public Relations Emeritus Mike Chason presented Bridges with the book, which contains photos and words from the time Bridges took office as ABAC’s 10th president on July 1, 2006.
“Dr. Bridges is the only ABAC President to have once been a student at the college,” Chason said. “He is also the longest serving president in the history of ABAC and at this time, he is the longest serving president among the 26 colleges and universities in the University System of Georgia.
“From the tiny town of Parrott, Georgia, this man has risen to great heights in the world of education. I would like to present Dr. Bridges with a book which covers in words and pictures an ABAC Presidential Tenure which will impact this college forever.”
Both Baker and Chason recounted many of Bridges’ achievements at ABAC including the incorporation of the Georgia Agrirama into the ABAC campus to become ABAC’s Georgia Museum of Agriculture, the merging of Bainbridge State College into ABAC, the acquisition of the 944-acre John W. and Margaret Jones Langdale Forest at Willis Still, and the opening of the Center for Rural Prosperity and Innovation on the ABAC campus.
“This is just too much,” Bridges said. “It has been a pleasure being the President of ABAC. I have so many memories. ABAC is where my heart is.”
A total of 315 students participated in the two commencement ceremonies. ABAC fall term classes begin on Aug. 15.