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Benny jets off to retirement

April 1, 2011

By Erin Grable, News Editor

After an education career that spanned four decades, Fine Arts Dean Dr. Benny Ferguson is going back to his roots to spend time with his family in south Georgia. Photo by Kelsey Battle

Before classes were dismissed for the spring break, Vice President of Academic Affairs Ron Roach announced that Dean of Fine Arts Benny Ferguson wished to retire at the end of this semester.

“Retirement is what you work for, and it comes quick,” said Ferguson. “I remember getting my first check as a teacher and the savings for retirement, and I just did not think about retirement.”

He explained that with his retirement there are a lot of things he wants to do, such as planting pine trees on his 60 acres of land in South Georgia and just doing nothing.

“There is nothing constant in life except for change,” said Ferguson. “The two most shocking times of your life are when you start your first job and retire.”

According to an e-mail from Roach, Ferguson came to Young Harris after an extensive and well-known career in both public and private education.

In the state of Georgia and throughout the Southeast, he was also a leading figure in music education, a position that he continued to pursue during his time at Young Harris College.

Initially, Ferguson came to Young Harris to create an instrumental band program. He accomplished this task and turned a growing program over to the capable hands of his former student, Mary Land, upon moving into administration.

Ferguson did not come to YHC for an administrative post; however, when Keith DeFoor, associate vice president of academic affairs, left the dean’s chair to move to academic affairs, Dr. Ferguson was asked to take the dean’s role and he happily accepted.

“I have several highlights from my career here at Young Harris,” said Ferguson. “Being the Dean of Fine Arts is one of them.”

Ferguson began his role at a critical time, as the division was in the middle of establishing baccalaureate programs, hiring faculty and designing curricula, including a proposed Bachelor’s in music education.

“Where you work is a big part of who you are,” said Ferguson.  “I love the students, and I think the faculty that work here really enjoy our students; and it is what makes Young Harris special.”

In the time Ferguson has been here, he has left a lasting impression on many of his students. Junior Rolando Fernandez, a music major from Canton said, “Ferguson was a vital part in the development of the Young Harris College Band Program, and he will be greatly missed. If it wasn’t for him, I would not even be here getting such a great education and wonderful experiences. These past three years for me have been greatly appreciated, because I had the opportunity of studying under him as a trumpet major.”

Freshman music education major Tim Linley, from Cartersville, also had similar sentiments saying, “I really do not want him to leave, because I am only a freshman. I am going to miss that guy.”

Roach went on to say in his e-mail to faculty that, even though YHC understands Ferguson’s desire to retire and be able to spend more time with his family, Ferguson will be truly missed.

Ferguson provided outstanding leadership in all of these endeavors, and deserves much credit for the good work on the music education program that resulted in its favorable reception by the Georgia PSC board.

Because of his help with the process and guidance, this fall the Division of Fine Arts will be offering four baccalaureate degree programs, with another in progress.

While Ferguson realizes that his retirement will be a change of routine, he remains positive about his decision to retire. “I am going to miss the students, my colleagues and faculty. Just because I am retiring does not mean I am going away,” said Ferguson. “No one but those that are here or have been here can really appreciate the Young Harris spirit. I just hate to leave this place, but I do not see retiring as the end of my life.”

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  1. January 4, 2012 at 8:24 pm

    What a distinguished career – what a well earned retirement!

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