Jones Named Trustee Emeritus

Georgia Rotary Student Program named officers and Chair J. Michael Sweigart honored former GRSP Foundation President Joe Jones with a resolution proclaiming him Trustee Emeritus at the 2023 Summer Trustee Business Meeting in Macon Saturday. 

Jones joined Rotary International in 1981 as a member of the Rotary Club of Sandy Springs, where he served as club president in 1986-1987 and has achieved perfect attendance at weekly club meetings for 25-years. He was named a GRSP Endowment Trustee in 1991 and served as the Endowment Chair from 2001 to 2021. Jones served as the first president of the GRSP Foundation Inc., from 2021 to 2023.  

In his 32 years serving GRSP, Jones has contributed to the success of countless international college students by promoting positive relationships among students, host families, sponsoring clubs and the program. He and his wife Ellen have served as a host family to several students.

Jones said, “I will never forget the camaraderie and the friendships I’ve made within this organization.”  

Sweigart thanked Jones for his leadership and his commitment to the program. To view, visit GRSP Joe Jones Resolution.   In the meeting, Jones was also recognized and named a Ronnie Waller Fellow for his $10,000 in cumulative contributions to the GRSP Foundation. Chair Emeritus Ronnie Waller of the Rotary Club of Gainesville was on hand to pin and congratulate Jones.


Guy Named Chair Emeritus

Georgia Rotary Student Program Chair J. Michael Sweigart honored Past Chair Bert Guy with a resolution and named Guy Chair Emeritus at the GRSP Conclave in Lake Lanier Islands August 19, 2022.

Guy served as GRSP Chair from 2018 to 2022. He has demonstrated his support for the GRSP Foundation as a Will Watt Fellow, a Hue Thomas, Jr., Fellow, a Kendall Weisiger Fellow, a Jake Cheatham Fellow, a Ronnie Waller Fellow and a Jim Brim Fellow. He served as a GRSP Trustee from 2009 to 2013 and as GRSP Vice Chair from 2013 to 2018.

Guy also served as Chair of the GRSP Camden County Student Weekend and has hosted dozens of GRSP students in his home and been a host family several times.

Guy joined Rotary International in 2003 as a member of the Rotary Club of Camden County, Georgia, and served as the club president  in 2008 – 2009. He was named Rotarian of the Year by his club in 2005-2006 and again in 2009-2010.  To view full resolution, click here: Bert Guy, Chair Emeritus Resolution


GRSP Celebrates 75 Years, Dedicates Peace Plaza & Will Watt Memorial Fountain

Georgia Rotary Student Program celebrated 75 years with a gala January 21 and dedication January 22 in historic Thomasville, home of GRSP founder Will Watt for the GRSP Peace Plaza and Will Watt Memorial Fountain. The celebrations were originally scheduled for August 2021 at Conclave and moved to the Winter Trustee Business Meeting in 2022.

GRSP Chair Bert Guy said, “When we reflect on the past 75 years, we are aware of the many leaders who played a vital part in the history of GRSP. GRSP is credited for connecting many smaller Georgia colleges with international students, often their first in the college or town.”

The gala featured a spotlight on student success and GRSP Foundation Fellow award recognitions for Trustees. Johnny Dukes, Rotary Club of Valdosta North; Michael Emanuele, Rotary Club of North Atlanta; Al Homebroek, Rotary Club of Lawrenceville; William “Billy” Kidd, Rotary Club of Hartwell; Gerald Smith, Rotary Club of Dublin and William ‘Bill’ Smith, Rotary Club of Brookhaven, were honored for their distinguished service, presented with resolutions and named Trustee Emeritus.

The GRSP Foundation partnered with the Rotary Club of Thomasville and the Courtyard® by Marriott® Thomasville Downtown in the GRSP Peace Plaza and Will Watt Memorial Fountain. The landmark will preserve the history of the program and provide a permanent marker for GRSP. Former GRSP Chair Emeritus and Treasurer J. Terry Gordon initiated the Generations of Generosity fundraising campaign, which raised more than $160,000 for the project. The Rotary Club of Thomasville led the way with more than $60,000 in contributions.

GRSP Foundation President Joe Jones recognized donors to the project, including a 1965 Alumnus from Israel who graduated from Georgia Tech, Dr. Shlomo Barnoon. Barnoon made a donation in memory of GRSP Chair Emeritus Hue Thomas, Jr of the Rotary Club of Savannah and Founding Committee Member Kendall Weisiger, an Atlanta Rotarian whose support of international students through the Rotary Education Foundation of Atlanta was merged into GRSP. Barnoon considered Thomas and Weisiger to be a visionaries who inspired him to support more than 300 international students of his own.

The Rotary Club of Thomasville made a $1,000 contribution in honor of Jeremy Emmett, the chief executive officer of Southern Lodging, the Thomasville business that owns the Courtyard Thomasville Downtown. Emmett was named as a Will Watt Fellow, which was presented at the dedication ceremony. Thomasville Mayor John H. ‘Jay’ Flowers read a resolution and dedicated January 22, 2022 as GRSP Day. Teri White served as the local event coordinator for the GRSP Gala and the Peace Plaza Dedication.

Will Watt III, grandson and namesake of GRSP Founder Will Watt, addressed the crowd, which included more than 20 members of the Watt family. He said Will Watt Sr.’s house at 714 North Dawson Street had an open-door policy for the Georgia Rotary Student Plan, the initial name for the Georgia Rotary Student Program.

“There are some wonderful pictures from the Thomasville newspaper of him enjoying the company of the kids,” Watt said. “He even served as a stand-in ‘Father-of-the-Bride’ for one student who couldn’t return to her country to get married due to civil unrest that had just broken out.  So he walked her down the aisle and she was married here in Thomasville.”

Guy closed the weekend with a toast stating, “We honor the legacy of our Founder Will Watt and the more than 3,692 alumni from 108 countries who have shared in the success of this program. We lift our glasses to honor the program that provides leadership, scholarship, excellence and service.”


Will Watt III Remarks at Plaza Dedication

Grandson and namesake of GRSP Founder Will Watt III shares his speech from the GRSP Peace Plaza and Will Watt Memorial Fountain dedication at the Courtyard Downtown Thomasville January 22, 2022.

GRSP 75th Gala, Plaza Dedication Photos

Photos by GRSP 6920 Director Milton Heard from Winter Trustee Business Meeting, 75th Gala and GRSP Peace Plaza and Will Watt Memorial Fountain dedication January 21-22, 2022 in Thomasville, Georgia.

GRSP 75th Commemorative Program

Generations of Generosity Donor Listings for 2022 campaign for GRSP Peace Plaza and Will Watt Memorial Fountain.

Johnny Dukes, RC Valdosta North

Michael Emanuele, RC North Atlanta

Al Homebroek, RC of Lawrenceville

William “Billy” Kidd, RC Hartwell

Gerald Smith, RC of Dublin

William ‘Bill’ Smith, Brookhaven

Bringing Nations Together Since 1946

Since 1946, Rotarians in Georgia, USA, have promoted world peace through understanding by offering scholarships to international students for one year of study in Georgia colleges and universities. Georgia Rotary Clubs sponsor students recommended by a Rotary Club in their home country.

The students become adopted members of a Georgia “host family,” living on-campus at the school they attend. This is an ambassadorial scholarship program, not an exchange!

Each year, students from all over the world make friends in the United States and other nations and learn about differing cultures and lifestyles. Georgia Rotarians believe “Peace is Possible” and through GRSP promote international goodwill through friendship and understanding.