Retired U.S. Army Col. James T. Palmer, commandant of cadets at the University of North Georgia, who has announced that he will retire from UNG at the end of June, was recently honored with a commendation from Gov. Nathan Deal.
Palmer's accomplishments and service noted in the commendation include: a 75 percent increase in the size of the Corps of Cadets from 1999 through 2018; founding the Corps Advisory Council and the Corps of Cadets Alumni Network; supporting the deployment of cadets in the Georgia Army National Guard to Iraq and Afghanistan in 2004; and serving as interim vice president of student affairs at UNG.
"Few others have invested so much of themselves into the success of the Corps of Cadets and this university nor upheld so strongly the values of both,” said UNG President Bonita Jacobs. “I am thankful to Col. Palmer for his service to the university and his service to the nation during his distinguished military career. His legacy at this university will be long-lasting, and his presence and leadership will be missed. "
Palmer said he was surprised and honored to be recognized for a second career that has been almost as long as his 26-year Army career. With 20 years of service, Palmer is the longest-serving commandant in the Association of Military Colleges and Schools of the United States.
Palmer said he is most proud of helping to grow the Corps of Cadets in both size and quality during his tenure. But what legacy does he hope to leave?
"That I had a small part in developing many highly educated leaders of character," Palmer said. "My friends and colleagues will probably remember that I was always a proponent of academic achievement, that I favored professionalism over tradition, and that I expanded the opportunities for all cadets to serve others after graduation."
Palmer graduated from UNG (then North Georgia College) in 1973.