The Student News Site of Georgia Highlands College

Six Mile Post

The Student News Site of Georgia Highlands College

Six Mile Post

The Student News Site of Georgia Highlands College

Six Mile Post

Just one more thing about Mike Hobbs

Contributed Photo
Hobbs with his twins, Hannah and Hudson, they are 10 in this picture. “We had twins less than two years after she was born. And so Connie had to really raise the twins because they need so much nurturing as infants.”

College president Mike Hobbs started his journey in academia from humble beginnings. As a first-generation high school graduate, there were few expectations for him to pursue higher education.

At the age of 15, he secured his workers’ permit and took on the night shift at a Krystal fast food restaurant. His career path seemed destined for the fast food industry as he later became an assistant night manager at KFC.

However, the driving force behind his achievements was his determined mother. She encouraged him to strive for more, leading him to enroll in night classes.

“When a single mom asks you to do something, you do it,” said Hobbs.

Hobbs initially grappled with the demands of academic life, struggling with the unfamiliar concept of studying. Yet, he soon realized the correlation between studying and improved test performance.

“Once you get a little boost of confidence and success, you want more and so I ended up graduating with a bachelor’s degree and I thought, wow, I’d love to share that with other people,” Hobbs said.

Hobbs’ teaching expertise extends across various institutions, including Stanford University, the University of Alabama and Jefferson State.

His dedication to education and academic administration guided him to the position of vice president at Alabama’s largest community college, housing approximately 13,000 students annually.

He had intended to wait until his youngest children graduated from high school to pursue college president.

However, fate intervened when he was recruited for presidency and visited the campus, falling in love with the community. He firmly believes that everything unfolds for a reason and that opportunities present themselves as part of a greater plan.

“I just felt at home and I’m a big believer that everything happens for a reason. You know, God puts things in front of you,” Hobbs said.

He aspires to be an integral part of the college and community. His vision includes dedicating several years to GHC and remaining an active member of the community, becoming the ‘wise elder’ who encourages prospective students to join the college.

“I don’t ever want to be a president anywhere else. I want to be those old guys sitting outside the radio station, drinking coffee and telling people about GHC,” Hobbs said.

Contributed Photo
Hobbs at age 15 while serving as a parking director for Rickwood Field, the oldest baseball park in America, located in Birmingham, Ala.

Typically, the delay in inauguration serves the purpose of ensuring alignment with the college’s community and mission. As an access college, GHC offers lower tuition with smaller classrooms, yet aims to provide the same educational experience as larger institutions like UGA or Georgia Tech.

“I don’t envision myself as a state university or research university president; I’m an access college advocate. This one-year delay helps ensure all aspects align appropriately,” Hobbs said.

In his one-year tenure as president, Hobbs has faced a series of challenges that have shaped his vision for the college’s future. Enrollment numbers tell a story of both resilience and growth.

With the latest enrollment numbers, there has been a notable increase of 4.7%, along with a 3.3% rise in credit hours. Hobbs sees the recent enrollment uptick as a promising sign. He believes it indicates an opportunity to reinvest in the college community and potentially rehire staff members.

The enrollment process includes a nearly 5% increase, attributed to the efforts of staff members like Jennifer Hicks, Stephanie Loveless and Charlene Graham.

The past three years, the college has experienced a decline of 1500 students with a reduction of 54 positions, including both employees and faculty members.

“Imagine taking 54 hands off the wheel. So when I see those numbers going up a little bit, it says to me that maybe we get to rehire some of these people,” Hobbs said.

As Hobbs continues to navigate the challenges and opportunities presented during his time, his dedication to the college and its students remains strong.

Hobbs highlights several accomplishments during his tenure, including the expansion of dual enrollment. Additionally, securing in-state residency for Alabama residents is seen as a crucial avenue for recruiting students.

“The workforce is growing around here. My request to the Chancellor and the Board of Regents about in-state tuition was that there’s so many jobs here that we need Alabamians to come and be educated here,” Hobbs said.

Hobbs aims to allocate funds and resources to further enhance these efforts, believing that additional opportunities for growth are attainable.

The budget deficit from last year is influenced by a two-year lag in financial reporting, with the current budget being based on the 2021 revenue intake. While recent numbers show a slight increase, these gains won’t materialize until 2025.

Hobbs emphasized the importance of being physically present for the sake of mental health and the generation of innovative ideas, recognizing the inherent social nature of human beings.

“I think students deserve to witness activity,” Hobbs said.

Students, faculty and staff can actively contribute to the college’s growth by embracing the power of education and sharing it with others.

“Everybody says that education can change not just one person’s life, but it can change their kids’ lives and generations to come. It’s great when you have something that’s so precious and you want to share it with everybody,” Hobbs said.

Hobbs offers valuable advice for aspiring leaders in education and their chosen fields. He acknowledges that despite his own shyness and anxiety, he has learned that taking chances often leads to positive outcomes.

He encourages students to challenge themselves, embrace their anxieties and not give up.

Contributed Photo
Hobbs and Project Manager Chenise Ryan worked together at the University of Alabama-Birmingham. “Dr. Hobbs and I became close friends and colleagues over 30 years ago when we both worked in Admissions at UAB. He was full of energy and new ideas, thrived on relationship-building and had a passion for working with and advocating for students,” Ryan said.

In terms of engaging with professors, he relays the importance of respecting their dedication to their craft and suggests that students who show interest and engage with professors will benefit significantly from those interactions.

Hobbs stresses the value of surrounding oneself with individuals who are more knowledgeable and capable, highlighting the collective strength that arises from a supportive and talented network.

“Circle yourself with people that can help you get to where you’re going. You’re only as good as the people you surround yourself with,” Hobbs said.

If given the chance to advise his younger self before assuming the role of college president, Hobbs would encourage travel, exploring new places, meeting diverse people and experiencing different cultures.

“When you’re growing up and you don’t have a lot of financial support, you’re not comfortable outside of a certain area. It really doesn’t cost as much as you think it would,” Hobbs said.

Reflecting on his own visit to Australia, he believes that such experiences, even on a limited budget, open one’s mind, enrich personal growth and contribute to becoming a better person.

Olivia, his firstborn out of three who is now 18, holds a special place in his heart. They have cherished memories of shared dinners in a Dora the Explorer tent and blowing bubbles together.

“She’d be cringing if she heard me say this, but she’s my baby. When I see her, she’s still three years old and in a pink tutu. She’s 18 now and wants to be treated like a grown adult, but it’s so hard because I see her as that little baby,” Hobbs said.

Alongside Olivia, Hobbs and his ex-wife, Connie, welcomed twins, Hannah and Hudson less than two years after Olivia’s birth. Despite their growth, Hobbs remains a devoted father to his children.

Regarding the recent inauguration, Hobbs found deep personal significance in having his children and friends in attendance.

“People ask me to tell my story all the time. People from the outside look at it and they think it’s a hardship story, but it’s really not. It’s my mother’s story. It’s my teacher’s story and it’s my friend’s story,” Hobbs said.

He was determined to provide a solid foundation for others to rise upon.

In terms of preparations, Hobbs commended the marketing department for its remarkable work in organizing the investiture.

The event hosted all 26 USG presidents, including the Chancellor. Hobbs expressed his desire to impress the Chancellor and prove his worthiness of the decision.

The presence of regents and legislators at the inauguration held significance for Hobbs, who wished to showcase GHC as a talent-producing powerhouse in the region.

He praised the particular efforts of Sara Bradfield, Director of Development and Liz Jones, Foundation Director, in organizing the gala.

He emphasizes the importance of being compassionate and considerate towards others, even in challenging situations.

“Generally, when you think about people that have traumatic experiences in their life, it’s easy to go into a shell and shut themselves down. How amazing it is that so many nurses who have had traumatic experiences or hard lives, turn around and then go to help other people,” Hobbs said.

As Hobbs gears up for a new chapter in his tenure, his dedication to kindness and resilience shines as a guiding light for the community.

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About the Contributor
Anna Crusselle
Anna Crusselle, Managing Editor
Anna Crusselle serves as the Managing Editor of the Six Mile Post. Her academic focus lies in journalism, and she possesses a deep passion for writing. Anna's writing portfolio predominantly comprises features and news articles, although she approaches any genre of storytelling with enthusiasm. During her leisure hours, she engages in various hobbies, including contributing to her personal blog, playing the piano and participating in the church choir as a singer. Her dedication to her studies reflects her aspirations of pursuing a career in investigative journalism. In addition to her editorial role, she also holds the position of secretary in her family's land surveying business.

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