UWG's Sethna honored Thursday with dinner
by Rebecca Leftwich
When Dr. Beheruz N. Sethna was named president of then-West Georgia College 19 years ago, many thought he’d stay for awhile and then move on to some bigger, more prestigious university.
They were right.
At a dinner honoring the retiring University of West Georgia president Thursday, Sethna talked about UWG’s metamorphosis from tiny West Georgia College into the State University of West Georgia into its present incarnation, a SACS Level VI university – on par with the University of Georgia, Georgia Tech and Emory – with a PhD program, satellite campuses in Newnan and Douglasville, and a student population 12,000 strong.
“I’ve moved to a bigger, better and more prestigious place every few years,” Sethna told the crowd of colleagues, family, friends and community members gathered at the university’s ballroom to honor his long stint at the helm of the institution.
Sethna, who has taught classes throughout his presidency, will stay on as an instructor after his retirement becomes effective in June. Dr. Kyle Marrero, vice president for university advancement at the University of West Florida in Pensacola, has been named Sethna’s successor.
“I’m a strong supporter of the chancellor’s next choice for president,” said Sethna, whose vision for UWG has set in motion the planned move and expansion of the Newnan Campus.
UWG last spring announced its intention to renovate the former Newnan Hospital building on Jackson Street for classroom, laboratory, office and support staff space, which will move operations from the campus’ cramped Shenandoah Industrial Park site.
At Thursday’s dinner, Sethna called himself “simply an instrument, a cog in a wheel.”
“The only thing I’ll take credit for is an impatient vision,” he said. “When I became president, the chancellor said, ‘West Georgia College is a nice place that has been asleep for 20 years’ and charged me to wake it up. I think you’ll agree we’ve done that.”
Sethna thanked his wife, Madhavi, his children Anita and Shaun and their spouses.
“My wife always said UWG is the other woman,” he said. “I am truly luckier than I deserve to be.”
He got a surprise tribute as student singers, horn players, cheerleaders and school mascot Wolfie suddenly converged on the room to show their appreciation to Sethna, who is known for his spirited participation in campus life and is on hand each year to personally help incoming freshmen move into their dorms.
Sethna joked that he will find out who his real friends are in July. He said he’ll miss his parking spot and the people he works with every day and ended his speech the same way he ended his inauguration speech 19 years ago.
“My wish for each of you is to live long and prosper,” he said.