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Honoree Headshot

Dr Jermaine Whirl

Augusta Technical College

Location: Augusta, Georgia
Founded: 1961
Industry: Higher Education

Don H Bravaldo

More than 10 years ago, Dr. Jermaine Whirl found himself at a significant crossroads. He was in a leadership position at an institution where the toxic environment was negatively affecting his health.

Though Whirl was the breadwinner of the family and had a newborn on the way, his spouse supported the decision to leave the company. With no job lined up, Whirl took an enormous leap of faith and resigned. The risk paid off.

Whirl considers that decision the best one he’s ever made. It enabled him to receive his doctorate and put him on the path to his current position as president of Augusta Technical College (the youngest president ever hired in the Technical College System of Georgia). Augusta Tech serves the constituents of the Central Savannah River Area by offering robust student support services and academic programs on campus and virtually, through the delivery of associate degrees, diplomas and technical certificates of credit.

Under Whirl’s leadership, Augusta Tech has established six new academic schools, a new School of Health Sciences Campus located in Piedmont Augusta’s Summerville Hospital, and the Jim Hudson Automotive Institute (the largest automotive training facility in Georgia).

Whirl oversaw record fundraising, securing the college’s first million-dollar gift and three million-dollar gifts, total, within eight months and increasing the college’s reserves from $2.2 million to $6 million in one year.

Whirl, an Aspen Fellow, is one of the most sought after two-year college presidents in Georgia and the nation. He has served on many boards, committees and task forces providing insights on workforce development or around his professional training as an economist. He is sought out as a thought leader from national media outlets such as Inside Higher Ed, AACC 21st Century Center, ACCT Perspectives Now, and INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine.

Outside the college, Whirl is a community leader in Augusta who is frequently asked to bring together groups of individuals for community change and development.

In his two years at Augusta Technical College, Whirl has been awarded the Outstanding Alumnus of the Year Award, in 2020, by Charleston Southern University; 2022 Man of the Year Recipient by the SuccessTeam Nonprofit organization; and he was selected a Georgia Trend 500 Most Influential Leader honoree.

Grounded in his faith, Whirl is a goal- and purpose-driven individual who leads in confidence. He credits his drive to early experiences with mentors who encouraged his gifts and foretold his calling to be an educator.

By being intentional in all that he pursues, Whirl finds lessons in his experiences, especially the one that led him from despair and hopelessness to his ultimate calling. “In the end,” he says, “ensuring that you’re a good fit for an organization/ community is more important than earning potential and titles.”

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Dr. Whirl is a great musician. He plays the piano, organ and drums. He served as a minister of music at churches for over 15 years.

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