The man who ushered in the Thomson campus of Augusta Tech will be retiring Sept. 30 after 34 years in education.
Dr. Peter Crawford, vice president for operations, will retire from the top spot which he has held since the Thomson campus opened seven years ago.
Today is Pete Crawford's last day as president of the local Augusta Tech campus.
Before coming to the Thomson campus, Dr. Crawford served in a variety of positions at Augusta Tech including academic vice president, continuing education official and professor of accounting, math and business.
Born and reared in Appling, Dr. Crawford embraced the opportunity to launch the Thomson campus in the fall of 1997.
"McDuffie County is my home area. I liked it here and I wanted to try something different," he said.
"I'm very proud of what we have done with the school."
Under his administration and with the support of the Thomson community, the campus grew from a small school serving 157 students to a larger facility with an enrollment of 600 students seeking degrees and diplomas. In addition, between 400 and 500 students are involved with the continuing education program.
"Within five years, I predict enrollment will be 1,000," he said.
The dramatic rise in enrollment is linked to the changing work force.
"Today, a person needs to be well educated and have a skill and a license," he said.
Some of the best jobs today are in health care, while computer skills remain important, he noted.
Dr. Crawford discussed the old, slow mainframe computers of the 1970s that took an entire room to house. When schools began using microcomputers in the early 1980s, Dr. Crawford bought three of them, and started a continuing education class of 15 students.
"We had five students to a computer," he recalled.
The following year, he requested two more computers, so had only three students sharing.
"It just took off from there," he said.
Computers aren't the only area Dr. Crawford has observed changing. The manufacturing industry and the plastics industry have evolved, and require workers with different skills than in the past.
The Thomson campus prepares those workers for jobs.
"Ninety-seven percent or better of our graduates go to work," Dr. Crawford said.
Following retirement, Dr. Crawford plans to travel. He is especially interested in visiting England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
"My ancestors came from Scotland. I'd like to find out about them," he said.
In addition, he plans to continue his volunteer work with The United Methodist Volunteers in Missions organization, visiting areas such as South America.
Dr. Crawford, who is experienced with construction, plans to add onto a lake house.
"I might piddle at farming, too," he said.
Whatever the project, he plans to stay busy with local family and friends.
"I grew up in this area, and I want to stay in this area," he said.
Ted Duzenski, vice president for economic development at the Augusta campus, will serve as interim vice president of the Thomson campus following Dr. Crawford's retirement.