OAKWOOD - Since 1976, Russell Vandiver has come to work every day at Lanier Technical College. Come March, after 37 years, Vandiver will retire.
Vandiver made the announcement earlier this week. He has served as Lanier Tech's president for the past three years.
"I was 23-years-old when I came to work here," said Vandiver. "You know, it's just time to move on. I've got two beautiful grandchildren that really like to have their Papa around."
The grandchildren will have to wait a few more months, though, since Vandiver said he still has a few things he'd like to accomplish on his "Lanier Tech bucket list."
He said he started a youth movement on the staff and he'd like to make a few more hires before he leaves.
"The new energy they have and [young faculty members]they bring...the technology skills they bring; it enhances our classrooms," said Vandiver.
Vandiver said he has seen amazing growth at Lanier Tech during his tenure.
"When I came here in 1976, we had two buildings and we had about 250 students," he said. That was on the Oakwood campus only.
Now, Lanier Tech boasts 14 buildings on five campuses in north Georgia. Enrollment is around 3,500.
Not only that, but the student population is trending younger. Vandiver said about 27% of Lanier Tech students are age 20 or younger.
Vandiver said he thinks the Lanier Tech concept is so successful because he has deans on each campus that allows to become the face of the college in each community.
He pointed to the new Dawson County campus as a prime example.
"It takes on the flavor of Dawsonville and Dawson County. Even the artwork inside matches what you would see in Dawson County with the water and rivers...fantastic!"
Even as he looks toward retirement, Vandiver emphasized that he still loves what he does.
"I don't have any burnout," he said. "It's time...you just know when it's time. Someone else will come along into this position and have all this vision and energy to go to an even higher level with the college."