Savannah State Gala To Raise Scholarship Funds And Honor Local Leaders


Savannah State University’s (SSU) Annual Scholarship Gala will be held Saturday, April 6, 6:30 p.m. at the Savannah Mar- riott Riverfront. Net proceeds from the university’s premier fundraising event will support student scholarships. With the theme of “An Evening of Gratitude and Celebration,” SSU will recognize scholars and community leaders. The event will also feature a special tribute to President Cheryl Davenport Dozier on the occasion of her retirement. Tickets and further information are available at and by following #SSUGala.

During the blacktie affair, the university will present Awards of Excellence in the areas of philanthropy, leadership, scholarship and service.

For generously supporting the university’s programs, there will be two Awards of Excellence in the area of philanthropy. Jacquelyn W. Stephens, Ed.D., class of 1960, has been a lifelong supporter of athletics, scholarships and many other programs at her alma mater. In 2013 she established the Jolly L. Stephens Football Scholarship Endowment in memory of her husband and fellow Tiger football player and fan. Robert Paddison served as a senior leader with Savannah Bank and Trust Company, coordinating their branch network and retail banking operations. Paddison is a generous supporter of many charitable organizations, including Savannah State University, the United Way, the public library system and public education in Georgia.


There will be two Awards of Excellence in the area of leadership. The recipients are Willie Seymore and M. Ann Levett, Ed.D. Seymore, a Savannah native, is the international executive vice president of the ILA South Atlantic and Gulf Coast district. Levett, also a Savannah native, is the superintendent of the Savannah Chatham County Public School System (SCCPSS). In 2015, she was also recognized for her accomplishments in education by the Georgia Senate.

For outstanding scholarship as an historian, W. Todd Groce, Ph.D., will receive the Award of Excellence in the area of scholarship. Groce is president and chief executive officer of the Georgia Historical Society (GHS), the independent, statewide institution responsible for collecting and teaching Georgia history. In addition to being a leader in the field of public history, Groce is a published scholar and authority on the Civil War and U.S. military history.

Dr. Ann Levett
Dr. Ann Levett

For excellence in the community service, Alton (Al) Wright will receive the Awards of Excellence in the area of service. Wright is the public affairs and community investment specialist at Gulfstream Aerospace. He has shepherded more than 450 high school students through Gulfstream’s Youth Apprentice Program, and is known for his volunteerism throughout the region. At more than 50 years, Wright is Gulfstream’s longest-serving employee.

The gala co-chairs are Kay A. Ford, chief banking officer, BankSouth, and Clemontine Washington, Ed.D., ‘66, mayor pro-tem, City of Midway.

W. Todd Groce, Ph.D.
W. Todd Groce, Ph.D.

The title sponsor is the SSU Foundation, Inc.

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