County Commission | The Magazine August 2018 - Page 37

Q : What sparked the technology summit? The motivation for the Alabama Summit on Rural Technology came out of UWA’s Economic Leadership Academy as an essential priority for Sumter County’s economic future, along with revitalization of the Black Belt region. The summit became the vehicle for bringing rural Alabama together to begin to address the issue of rural technology infrastructure and determine avenues of collaboration to meet this vital need. Q : What results have you seen so far? The summit ended up having a statewide impact through participation of major organizations, state government, economic development agencies, rural community leaders, elected officials and business groups from across Alabama, which brought together a new opportunity to build a rural broadband alliance. This alliance is being formed currently and will stretch across the entire Black Belt from the Georgia border to the Mississippi border to provide advocacy, strategic initiatives and new partnerships in the public and private sectors to address and secure investment in broadband for rural Alabama. Q : How has your experience as a county commissioner affected your approach as a university president? County commissioners, like university administrators, learn rather quickly how to effectively work with many diverse constituencies on a broad array of topics, all for the greater good. In the 12 years that I served Marengo County as the District 2 commissioner, I enjoyed the opportunity of learning more about the people I served so that I could better understand their needs and interests and, in turn, collaborate with members of the community, my fellow commissioners and many others throughout the region and state to align the resources that would improve the quality of life for all people in the county. I can compare that role in many ways to my role as president of the University of West Alabama. Everything that we do at UWA can be considered service, and, as a regional university whose mission is to bring about positive change and growth through education, service and outreach, we serve many publics. In my three terms as commissioner, including serving as chairperson, I was very involved with community, economic and workforce development activities, and those are all priorities Architecture, Civil Engineering, Municipal Engineering, Community Planning, Environmental, Geotechnical, Landscape, Surveying, GIS, Airports and Transportation Goodwyn Mills Cawood COUNTY COMMISSION | 37