Speaking from Experience
Lynn McCraney, Macon State
graduate and now dean of students, knows firsthand how life outside
the classroom enriches the college experience.
By Renee Pearman
P-C-P student. That's how Lynn Weaver McCraney described herself
when she was a freshman at Macon State College 20 years ago. A Parking
lot-to-Classroom-to-Parking lot student.
"That's what I was all about," said McCraney, the new
dean of students at Macon State. "I was focused on going to
the classroom, then heading straight back to my car and going home
or going to work. I didn't get to know any of my classmates or my
professors and getting involved in student organizations never crossed
"I just wanted to get my degree and move on."
But McCraney soon learned that there is a lot more to college life
than just showing up for class.
Today, her mantra is "Student Life, Student Life, Student
Life." She knows firsthand what a difference it makes for students
to enhance their academic studies with learning outside the classroom.
"When I first came to this college, I was a full-time student
with a part-time job," McCraney said. "I left college
to work full time but came back a few years later when I realized
that my life would not be everything I wanted it to be without a
She returned to Macon State in 1987, with new priorities and a
new attitude. "I decided that if I'm going to college, then
I'm going to take advantage of all the opportunities available to
me as a student at this institution. I got involved, and it made
all the difference in the world."
McCraney shares this message with all students-freshmen and transfers,
traditional-age and mature adults-at every MSC orientation. She
tells them that Student Life at Macon State today encompasses a
great deal, from having a voice in student government and writing
for the student newspaper or literary magazine to studying abroad,
attending job fairs and participating in community service projects.
And don't forget the chance to participate in and attend theatrical
productions, concerts, arts festivals, intramural sports and lectures
by such distinguished guests as writers Tina McElroy Ansa and Nikki
Giovanni, syndicated columnist Walter Williams, playwright Steven
Dietz and the Georgia Sea Island Singers.
Student Life programs, publications, organizations, service learning
projects and special events are funded by the $44 per term activity
fee paid by students enrolled for four or more semester hours.
McCraney receives her associate of arts degree in English. She
graduated from Macon State College in 1987.
McCraney also reminds students that involvement in campus life
means connecting with their classmates and faculty. Relationships
they form now may continue long past their college years.
"One of our main objectives in Student Life is to provide
our students with opportunities to build networks of support that
will sustain them through a challenging but rewarding academic experience,"
As a matter of fact, the networks she established while a student
at MSC still exist today, including one with her former academic
advisor, Dr. Joe Popson, professor of English.
"From the moment I met Dr. Popson, I realized how invested
he was in my success as a student at this college," McCraney
said. "He was focused on making sure that I registered for
all the courses I needed to graduate, and he was always steering
me in the right direction for my career goals. He is representative
of our Macon State faculty who are committed to helping students
And there's Bob Durand, associate professor of history, who, McCraney
said, taught her that learning can take place outside of class.
"He would-and still does-bring historical presentations to
the campus and not just for his students but for all students. He
also arranges field trips to historic sites, and he remains one
of our biggest advocates for student involvement in organizations
and events on campus."
Enriching the College Experience
Dr. Martha Wilson, professor of English, coordinator of the college's
Honors Program and faculty advisor to MSC's chapter of the international
student honor society Phi Theta Kappa, also stresses learning outside
the classroom. Phi Theta Kappa sponsors campus events open to all
students, and its members participate in community service projects.
"Lynn is clearly committed to supporting the types of co-curricular
and extra-curricular activities that enrich the college experience
for every student," Wilson said. "The many programs and
services sponsored and coordinated through the Student Life Program
not only elevate the cultural and intellectual climate on our campus
but also facilitate important connections between the college and
And those connections, McCraney said, meet another Student Life
objective: getting students to think ahead by providing them with
additional avenues to make themselves more marketable once they
"I remind our students that becoming involved in Student Life,
whether being part of a student organization or helping coordinate
a campus event or project, is something they can add to their resumes,"
she said. "These types of activities show potential employers
that as college students they were active and concerned enough about
their academic and cultural environments to do more than what was
Lynn McCraney, center, serves sushi
during the International Food Festival at the college with
Dr. Gwen Sell, right.
From Student to Dean
Again, McCraney speaks from experience. When she returned to Macon
State College in 1987, she decided to explore what the college had
to offer. She began by staying on campus after class and studying
in the cafeteria. It was there she met other students and formed
She learned about the Student Government Association and decided
to run for office, and her election as senator put her in contact
with more students, faculty and administrators. Soon she found herself
serving as a student representative on the college's Academic Council,
writing for the student newspaper, participating in a peer tutoring
service and working as a student assistant in the office of the
Macon State College president.
A 1981 honor graduate of Crawford County High School, McCraney
completed her studies at Macon State in 1987, earning an associate
of arts degree in English. Within the next four years, she received
a bachelor's degree in political science and a master's degree in
public administration, both from Georgia College & State University.
Several months after graduating from Georgia College, she found
herself back at Macon State.
"I was looking for a position in the public sector when I
learned that Macon State was hiring a director for its Office of
Student Activities," McCraney said.
"I remember thinking what an ideal job that would be for me
because I knew what a difference involvement in student life at
this college made in my success as a student. That was a lesson
I wanted to share."
She's been sharing that lesson for a decade now. This past September,
Macon State College President David A. Bell appointed her dean of
students, with the directive to serve as a student advocate.
"She brings to the position many years of dedicated service
to student life at our institution," Wilson said of McCraney's
In her new role, McCraney supervises the co-curricular Student
Affairs Program, which is designed to complement the academic program
of the college and provide leadership training for students. Additionally,
she is responsible for student social and cultural events, student
organizations and publications, student government and student discipline.
She also administers the Student Life budget.
"As a member of the faculty and an advisor to a student organization,
I've worked closely with Lynn for a number of years, and I've always
found her to be extremely helpful, enthusiastic and knowledgeable,"
said Charlene Goodwin, interim chair of the Division of Health Sciences
and faculty advisor to the Student American Dental Hygienists' Association.
Durand, who works closely with the Student Life staff on such events
as Family Night at MSC, National History Day in Georgia and the
Phi Theta Kappa film series, said McCraney is the right person for
the job of dean of students.
"She is graced with energy, talent, wisdom, business efficiency,
people skills and the compassion necessary for this demanding job,"
he said. "I've seem them come and go in leadership, but she
is the best. Our students are blessed with so passionate
Dr. Gwen Sell, professor of English and director of International
Education at the college, calls McCraney the most energetic, positive
person on campus. "She doesn't know the word 'can't,'"
Sell said. "She makes the impossible happen."
Student Life Evolves
McCraney has been part of student life at MSC as both student and
administrator, and she has witnessed- and promoted- its evolution.
"There are even more opportunities available to our students,"
she said. "Since I arrived here as a student in 1981, I've
seen Student Life at Macon State expand, especially under the leadership
of Dr. Bell these past few years.
"We now have a Health, Wellness and Recreation Program that
includes a Health Clinic supervised by a nurse practitioner, a Wellness
Center where our students can get personal training and take part
in aerobics and yoga, intramural athletics and outdoor recreational
activities such as rock climbing."
Macon State also joined with Wesleyan College and Mercer University
to create the CollegeTown Universal Ticket, which permits current
students at any of these institutions to attend, at no cost, six Central
Georgia venues, including plays, concerts, museum exhibits, lectures
Lynn McCraney, left, greets new
student Jennifer Johnson, far right, and her mother, Barbara
Johnson, during orientation.
Also, more financial resources are going toward service learning
projects outside the classroom. "One such project involves
respiratory therapy majors developing age-appropriate asthma education
lessons for children, then taking those lessons into the public
schools," McCraney said.
Then there's the $8.75 million, two-story Student Life Center which
opened in fall 2000, bringing all student services-related offices
to one location.
"The Student Life Center has been a renaissance for this college,"
McCraney said. "If our academic buildings are the brains of
the college, then our Student Life Center is the heart. Our students
can do everything from getting advised, registering for classes
and buying their textbooks to grabbing a snack, attending a student
meeting and just taking a break."
Nearly two decades after first setting foot on this campus, McCraney
said Macon State College is still giving her opportunities. "I
have a position at this college that allows me to work with people
who are attempting to better their lives," she said, "and
I consider this yet another wonderful opportunity Macon State has
Student Government Association president Crystal Jones, who is
a senior majoring in public service, said McCraney's
concern for MSC students comes from the heart.
"I admire her tactfulness, endless energy and vast organizational
and social skills," Jones said. "She is the perfect role
model for any person who wishes to work in a field that deals with
the public on any level."
Popson noted that McCraney, his former pupil, has never been one
to walk away from opportunity-or challenges.
"I think she knew from her student days that problem solving,
with the emphasis on solving, was going to be one of her strengths,"
said the English professor, who has been teaching here for 28 years.
"Lynn is creative and responsive, and we are lucky to have
her. I am sure that in her new role as dean of students she will
make this school even better than it is.
"Part of my joy is seeing a someone from my early years here
continuing to make a lasting impression."