By Curt Yeomans
Dr. Tom Eddins came to Clayton State University in 1982 to see what he could do with the school's drafting and design program.
He had taught at Paul D. Camp Community College in Franklin, Va., but was attracted to the idea of shaping the direction and style of a new program at what was then called Clayton Junior College.
In December, Eddins, 59, will retire from the school he has seen grow from a junior college to a university.
The professor will leave after more than two decades of teaching architecture, surveying and mechanical design to his students. He's currently using up the last of the vacation days he's built up over the years.
"The program is being dropped, so it seemed like a good time to retire," Eddins said. "I'll miss my students the most, especially the ones who came to class every day with enthusiasm, wanted to learn, and put in the hard work needed to get the job done."
Eddins has been involved in several areas of the university during his tenure. He interviewed candidates for the Governor's Honors Program every year he was at Clayton State, and was involved in the Georgia Occupational Awards for Leadership.
During the last 14 years, he's been the faculty's representative to the Clayton State athletic department. He won the Outstanding Technical Teacher Award in 1992, given by the American Technical Education Association.
Benita Moore, acting dean of the College of Professional Studies, said Eddins' involvement at the university made him well known among both faculty and students across the entire university. She also came to Clayton State in 1982. The drafting and design program that Eddins taught was in the College of Professional Studies.
Moore said Eddins also was known for performing acts of kindness to others in the Clayton State community. "He was known to randomly bring coffee to other professors without reason," Moore said. "I'm not a coffee drinker, so he never brought me any coffee, but he was known to take coffee to other members of the faculty."
Clayton State is losing "a very dedicated individual," because of Eddins' retirement, Moore said. "He kept in touch with his former students and got them to help his current students find jobs after college," she said.
Eddins said there are two things he's tried to impart on his students over the years - to be self-sufficient, and have a sense of responsibility. "Once they are working in their industries, their employers aren't going to be looking for excuses, and won't accept any," he said.
Eddins plans to use his retirement to spend time with his grandchildren and try to follow his own advice about being self-sufficient. He said he'll make some money in his retirement by engaging in some of his hobbies, like blacksmith work, and making woodcrafts.
"I've also got my golf clubs, but I don't think I can make any money by doing that," he said.