Dr. Glenn Connor (Class of 1977) knows. His life was changed by an encounter on a high school basketball court. He had just finished a game when Athens Coach Oba Belcher introduced himself. “Young man, if you have an interest in going to college, we’ll help you find a way,” the coach said.
College? Glenn had dreamed about it – mostly a pipe dream though. No one in his family had gone to college. And with three siblings – one of them nearly blind – money was scarce. The next year Glenn accepted the coach’s offer – a scholarship and part-time job on campus. He enrolled in pre-law and played on baseball and basketball teams. By his own admission, his playing wasn’t that great. But it seemed the folks in the financial aid office didn’t care, because every time his funds went dry they figured out a way to help.
While attending Athens College, Glenn was called to the ministry. After graduation, he went on to seminary at Emory University in Atlanta. In three years, he got his master’s degree and six years after that his doctorate. “The day I enrolled at Emory a man told me I was starting with strikes against me. He was referring to my degree from what he thought was a small, no-name college. But he was wrong. Athens State had more than prepared me for the academic rigors of Emory. I got a first-class education. And my teachers became my mentors for life.
“If somebody hadn’t helped me, I probably would never have gone to college. There are lots of bright kids who need help. They can’t afford a big four-year school. They’re working full time to support a family. They can’t rack up $100k in debt, not if they’re going to live on a teacher’s salary. We need scholarships. But scholarships won’t do us much good if we don’t get a physical plant. We’ve got to take care of our historical buildings.”