Being named director of the Armstrong Liberty Center was icing on the cake for Dorothy "Dot" Kempson.
She did not know walking into her first Armstrong State University class on Fort Stewart would take her on an 18-year journey from student to director of a local college campus.
Kempson is the new director of the Armstrong Liberty Center campus, a local branch of the main college in Savannah.
A Wisconsin native, Kempson was a military police officer. She and her husband of 25 years, who is also retired military, moved to Hinesville by way of the military. They have one daughter named Brittney and live in Richmond Hill.
Kempson first came into contact with Armstrong in 1998 when classes were available on post.
She earned four degrees from Armstrong, a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, an associate of arts degree, a master’s in professional communication and leadership and a master’s in adult education with a concentration in human resources.
"I started taking classes, fell in love with Armstrong, became a student worker in 1999 and just progressed through the ranks," Kempson said.
Her commitment to Armstrong really did carry her all the way. She was a student worker, then held a clerk 3 position, was a learning support coordinator, assistant director of academic support services, interim director of Armstrong Liberty Center and now the director.
Kempson was interim director for the Liberty campus for the 2015-2016 school year and thought she was there just to help with the opening of the newly built campus. The ribbon was cut on the new campus along Memorial Drive December 2015, with classes starting this past January.
"At the time I was just stepping in to make sure that we transition into our new facility and keep things running smoothly because of my background and knowledge of our institution," she said. "I never thought of it at time of being the director. So when they asked me to take it on, it was like ‘I can do this.’"
Kempson’s time as interim director prepared her for the job. She learned the importance of student success and how the Armstrong campus was able to thrive in Hinesville.
"It’s because we try to have our community relationships built as well as offer a quality education to this community," Kempson said.
Her goals for the campus are to create more relationships and partnerships with the community and have more of the military population attend the college.
One of the new programs the school will offer is a graduate program at the campus and a full bachelor’s degree program in early childhood education.
"As we continue to grow, our population changes. So we’re trying to make sure we offer the programs that are needed in this community," Kempson said.
The new facility is more than capable of handling those programs, with new labs and technology in the classrooms. Kempson said the students are excited about it.
"They enjoy the commons area where they can hand out, socialize, and also our faculty. They’re excited about the new classrooms and equipment. It’s a beautiful building, so we get a lot of potential students seeing the building and wanting to know what we offer," she said.
Approximately 435 students are enrolled at the campus for fall.
On her new position, Kempson said, "I’m excited about the opportunity to continue to lead Armstrong. I look forward to building relationships within the community of Hinesville and to foster students’ success. I love Armstrong and I love working at Armstrong here in Hinesville. It was just icing on the cake."