HANCEVILLE, Ala. –The Alabama Community College System Board of Trustees on Wednesday honored the legacy of the late Dr. Garlan Gudger, Sr., by approving the naming of the Wallace State Community College Student Center as Garlan E. Gudger , Sr. Student Center.
Dr. Gudger served as the college’s first Dean of Students beginning in 1976 and was instrumental in the growth of the college for two decades.
“He was passionate about student engagement, physical health and wellness, and the benefits of sport to a student body,” read WSCC President Dr. Vicki Karolewics in the formal resolution presented to the board. ACCS Board of Directors. Dr. Gudger started the college’s athletic program in its first year on campus and advocated for more teams to be added. He also formed an extensive intramural sports program with students, involving hundreds of students in basketball, flag football and more.
“He helped the students through everything from personal dilemmas and financial issues to mentorship and kindness and a strong work ethic,” Dr. Karolewics continued. “In some cases, he generously personally funded the student’s college career.”
“This is a wonderful day in my father’s life and my father’s legacy,” said Sen. Garlan Gudger, Jr. “He loved the junior college system and especially Wallace State Hanceville.” Dr. Gudger, also known for founding Southern Accents and Architectural Antiques in Cullman, died in 2018.
His wife, Dot Gudger, was Wallace State’s first business teacher.
“Our family is incredibly honored and humbled and very grateful that the building is named after Garlan,” she said. “His passion was Wallace State students. I know he’s smiling at us and he’s really happy.
Their kids practically grew up in Wallace State.
Senator Gudger and his sisters Joy Barker and Jill Howell all have fond memories of their time on the Wallace State campus, whether it was eating at Woody’s Grill or “helping” student chaperones dance with their dad.
“There’s nothing that could have thrilled him more than having the student center named after him,” Barker said. “His heart was definitely here. He loved children.
“I am grateful on behalf of my family that we are here today, as what you are embracing today is a visual reminder to all of us to continue to be at the level of service and leadership that my father, their grandfather, wanted us to be,” Senator Gudger said.
Al Thompson, chair of the CASC board of trustees, recognizes the relevance of naming the student center for Dr. Gudger, whose career he described as a “labor of love and a lifetime of service” at the college.
“This is a wonderful tribute to an exceptional gentleman and beloved member of the Wallace State family,” District 4 President Matt Woods said. “The world needs and certainly our community college system needs more people like Garlan Gudger Sr.”
The Dr. Garlan Gudger, Sr. Endowed Scholarship was also established through the Wallace State Future Foundation.
The Garlan E. Gudger Student Center is home to the 950-seat Betty Leeth Haynes Theater, Student Engagement Offices, E-Sports Lab, and Lions’ Kitchen Food Bank. Renovations are currently underway on a new Wally’s Grill and student activity area.
Enrollment for Spring 2021 will begin next month, with classes beginning in January 2021. For more information, visit ww.wallacestate.edu or call 256.352.8000.