Friday was a very special day for Enterprise State Community College as the school hosted a commendation ceremony for one of its founders.
Dr. Joe Talmadge, who was instrumental in ESCC’s creation and served as the school’s first Dean of Instruction before becoming its president, was honored by former and current ESCC faculty and staff as he received a commendation letter from Governor Kay Ivey Friday morning. ESCC’s Associate Dean of Students and Athletic Director Kevin Ammons called the ceremony to order and thanked Talmadge for his many years of service to the school.
“If it wasn’t for Dr. Talmadge, many of us may never have been here as a student or as an employee,” Ammons said. “From the bottom of my heart Dr. Talmadge, I want to thank you for your years of service and for all the wonderful things you did for Enterprise State.”
Following the invocation given by First Baptist Church Senior Pastor Ben Bowden and a video tribute, ESCC President Matt Rodgers spoke of his relationship with Talmadge throughout the years and said that Talmadge is a testament to true success.
“When I think of Dr. Talmadge, I think of success, because of the success this college has had and continues to have, the impact on the community,” Rodgers said. “I think it goes without being said that Dr. Talmadge has been a success, but it’s not just because he’s been a college president or a Dean of Instruction. I think we all understand the impact he’s had: he’s a wonderful husband, wonderful father, wonderful grandfather, wonderful church member, a deacon in his church, a Sunday school teacher… Those are the things that make this man a special man. At the end of the day, we’re not judged by wins or losses, by the number of books we sell or the money we have in the bank account — we’re judged by the impact that we have on other people, the difference that we make for other people, and I’m just honored today to say that Dr. Joe, you have been successful, you have succeeded, and job well done.”
Rodgers declared April 26 to be “Dr. Joe Talmadge Day” on the ESCC campus before conceding the podium to ESCC Student Financial Aid Director Chip Quisenberry. Quisenberry, who has known Talmadge for more than 40 years, said that Talmadge’s life and actions with ESCC are true testimonies of faith, hope and love.
“It struck me in talking about faith, hope and love that the love of teaching and working together is what made Enterprise State such a great place long ago, and it’s love for our former dean and our president, the man we honor today, that’s brought all of us here today,” Quisenberry said. “Dr. Talmadge, thank you for your faith in us, your hope for what our beloved school could become, and thank you for your unabashed love for this college and for everyone who’s served here. God bless you and God bless Enterprise State in years to come.”
Nick Moore then took the podium on behalf of Governor Kay Ivey to present Talmadge with a commendation letter. Prior to presenting the letter, Moore, an ESCC graduate himself, thanked Talmadge personally for his dedication to students and the community college system over the years.
“If it wasn’t for the Foundation scholarship that I received that you established as president, I wouldn’t be standing here today in this role. Personally, I thank you sir,” Moore said.
After the commendation letter presentation, Talmadge thanked former and current ESCC faculty and staff for their commitment to a positive vision for the school.
“When I first came to Enterprise, the first house I bought was across the street on George Wallace Drive, and I looked across the street and this was a peanut field, and I knew there was supposed to be a college here but it’s awfully hard to get a college out of a peanut field. But we did,” Talmadge said. “We put the bricks up outside, but somebody has had the vision to make the inside look nice, and that’s really great. I’m really proud of the school now because it has wonderful leadership, wonderful faculty members, and I think that every year that goes by we get better and better and better. I’m proud of the college, I’m proud of Matt and what he’s going to do, and I hope he stays out here the next 25 or 30 years and keeps on building on what we started here.”
The ceremony was concluded with the unveiling of an updated portrait of Talmadge that will hang in the newly-renovated Talmadge Hall on campus.