NGU Celebrates Accomplishments of Four Faculty and Staff Members
Posted on: May 1, 2023
Tigerville, SC (May 1, 2023) Four members of the North Greenville University (NGU) faculty and staff were recognized during the final spring Chapel service for university personnel on April 26. Honorees included Dr. Jill Branyon, distinguished professor of education and mathematics education coordinator; Dr. Gerald Roe, program director and professor of intercultural studies; Dr. George Hopson, professor of sport management and leadership and Deborah O’Gwynn, director of student accounts.
Prior to joining NGU, Branyon served in Kenya for more than 20 years with the Southern Baptist Convention’s International Mission Board. She also taught in Lexington School District One for three years.
“When I ask students, especially alums, who their favorite teacher is, (Branyon’s) name comes up a lot,” NGU President Dr. Gene C. Fant, Jr. said during the service in Turner Chapel. “I don’t know that there’s anyone else in the state of South Carolina who has impacted secondary math education across the state any more than her. She really has an amazing legacy.”
Branyon has spent 46 years in the classroom. She is a past recipient of NGU’s Lamar Chapman Meritorious Service Award, and has received the Golden Gift Leadership Challenge Scholarship.
“I came to NGU at a time of transition in my life. I knew I needed to stay in the US to help my parents. NGU became my new mission field and my new family,” Branyon said. “I have taught here for 20 years and enjoyed it very much. God has blessed my life here, and I have had the privilege to disciple many students. One of my favorite parts of working at NGU along with the Christ-centered campus has been working with Third Culture students such as missionary kids. I will continue to teach a few courses and support the College of Education for a while longer.”
Prior to his role at NGU, Dr. Roe served as senior pastor of three churches and the Director of Missions for the Massachusetts Baptist Association. He was appointed by the Southern Baptist’s North American Mission Board as director of associations for the Massachusetts Baptist Association. Roe joined the North Greenville faculty in 2003.
“I have not gone to work a single day in the last 20 years,” he said. “I have done exactly what I wanted to do in the very place I wanted to do it. Higher Christian education was last thing I envisioned myself doing. However, instructing the next generation of missionaries, pastors and other church leaders has provided a joy and satisfaction I could never have imagined.”
President Fant said Dr. Roe’s commitment to missions has greatly impacted the university.
“I was with a group that was talking about North Greenville’s heart for missions in the US and they were bragging on our faculty and staff. Dr. Roe has been a great leader, and we look forward to hearing about what all he’s involved with next.”
Following a 35-year career in administrative roles at K-12 private Christian schools, Dr. Hopson came to NGU in 2007 to serve as the director of institutional research and effectiveness and liaison to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
“We are not where we are now if it weren’t for the folks in accreditation, who deal with all the federal data that goes through institutional research,” President Fant said. “We thank Dr. Hopson for making the university better.”
Hopson later moved to a full-time faculty position, serving as a professor of sport management and leadership.
“I am thankful the Lord has given me the opportunity to be at NGU for all these years and that he has provided strength for the tasks and provided good friends over the years,” Hopson said.
O’Gwynn joined NGU in 2018, and is a member of the leadership team in the Office of Student Services. She has served in higher education for 25 years, previously working at Palm Beach Atlantic College, Oklahoma Baptist University, and Oklahoma City University.
“Her time with Student Services has been marked by her dedication to students, as well as staff, and her empathetic and steady leadership,” President Fant said. “She’s created a number of policies and procedures that have really helped our students, and she’s known for her encouragement, humor, and baked treats.”
O’Gwynn said her greatest joy has been working with students and families at NGU.
“It has been a blessing to serve at NGU and to help students and their families move toward completing their degrees,” she said. “God has blessed the mission of this university and seeing that in the lives of our graduates is a great joy. Working under Rachael Russiaky and assisting in bringing the vision of NGUcentral into fruition has been rewarding.”
The Chapel service was followed by a reception in NGU’s Hartness President’s Dining Room, celebrating the career accomplishments of the four honorees.
About North Greenville University
NGU offers more than 125 areas of study across certificate, bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral, and early college opportunities. Online. In-person. At our main campus in Tigerville, SC, the Tim Brashier Campus in Greer, SC, or several educational centers around the U.S. One university, many locations. Every day. Epic. Learn more.