He has fathered hundreds even though they do not bear his name. He has steered thousands to their final career destinations through his mentoring even though no one has kept record. Yet his call to fame will not be how many he has helped, but the way in which he has done it, and that is by getting involved in “Student Affairs,” literally.
Dr. Randolph “Randy” Gunter, Ph.D., a native of Augusta, has always “admired social workers,” and has, therefore, dedicated his whole life to helping others. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Central College in Iowa (1974) and his Masters of Social Work (1977) from the University of Georgia, ending his matriculation at Clark-Atlanta University with his Ph.D. (2000) in Social Work Planning and Administration, fulfilling his life-long dream of helping his “fellow man.”
Even though Gunter has held several administrative positions starting from a licensed social worker and subsequent director over the Child Development Project at the Bethlehem Community Center in Augusta (1976-80) to interim vice president for Enrollment Services and Student Affairs (2009-11) at Clark-Atlanta University, he is affectionately remembered and admired in Bulloch County for his leadership role as director of the Upward Bound and Educational Talent Search at Georgia Southern University (1980-91). He was still director when it was renamed the Educational Opportunity Program (1991-01).
While director, he said he believed in giving each of his students “an opportunity to make a difference.” His list of high achievers include doctors, lawyers, teachers, preachers and several politicians. His propensity for getting involved in “student affairs” has resulted in the success stories of many students who were fathered, loved, and mentored for more than 20 years by Bulloch County’s one and only “Mr. G.” He accredits the success of these programs to parent and community involvement.
Gunter’s commitment to Upward Bound programs still runs deep. Not surprisingly, he is an Upward Bound alumnus from Paine College. In 1990, the GSU Randolph Scott Gunter/ TRIO Scholarship was founded, established by former Upward Bound participants to acknowledge Gunter’s work and dedication to the success of the programs. In addition, in his pursuit to stay involved in student affairs and to give back to the community, Gunter and his wife of 11 years, Anne Smith Gunter, established the Samuel and Weorsie Smith/John and Willie Mae Gunter Endowed Scholarship at Savannah State University in honor of both of their parents.
And mentors need mentors, too. Gunter credits Dr. John F. Nolen, GSU Vice President Emeritus of Student Affairs (1999) as the “guiding force” in his life, the one who encouraged him to pursue his own educational successes. These include the vice president for Student Affairs at Savannah State University (2003-08) and associate vice president for Student Affairs and Dean of Students at Georgia Southern University (2001-03).
Believing in living life to its fullest, Gunter committed many hours to community and civic involvement: National Association of Social Workers (2013-16), the National Association of Black Social Workers (2013-16), Southeastern Association of Educational Opportunity Program Personnel (1981-06 ), the Council for Opportunity in Education (1988-present) where he has worked as consultant, chair, and board member; and the U. S. Department of Education (1997-17), working as consultant to other Upward Bound and TRIO programs. Locally, he has served in several capacities at the Original First African Baptist Church, which includes chairman of the deacon board, choir member, and he is presently the finance committee chair.
A career of service
As a scholar and humanitarian, Gunter holds membership in the following organizations: Omicron Delta Kappa Leadership Society, Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity, Alpha Lamba Boule; Frogs Inc., the NAACP, and the King-Tisdale Cottage/Beach Institute Foundation Board of Directors. As a professor, he has taught at Savannah State University as a graduate adjunct professor in the Department of Social Work (2013-17). While at Savannah State, he served on several committees: SACS Leadership, the President’s Cabinet, Orientation Committee for New Students, and numerous others. His services to Georgia Southern University include the following: Adjunct instructor (1988-03), instructor of Sociology (1987), and he has chaired and served on several committees: President Convocation Committee (2001-02), Multicultural and International Student Center Director Screening Committee (2001), Educational Opportunity Programs Director Screening (2001) and the Black Student Leadership Summit (1994); these are just a few.
Officially retired as of 2008, Gunter is not one to just sit around and rest. Bicycling, golfing, reading and traveling now fill up his days. Having lived a fulfilled life, when asked, “What is the one thing that you would change about your life or redo?” He responded that he would live his life over “exactly as it was.”
In other words, he has done basically everything that he has ever wanted to do, which his wife Anne confirms.
“If there is something that he wants to do, then he will make it happen,” she said.
Both retirees are now doing extensive traveling; they have visited South Africa, Ghana, Egypt, Australia, Spain, Portugal and Morocco. This year they will visit China. Their son, Anton Harris, and wife Tara, along with their niece, Adria Gunter, and granddaughter, Adara Harris, will bask in later photos and stories.
Gunter’s life is filled with many academic successes as well as personal rewards. Anne says that he is “generous, caring and thoughtful.” And those who know him can attest that he lives by these words: “To whom much is given, much is required.”
According to Minister Penny Gary, “His passion matches his actions; his legacy is now speaking.”
Upward Bound gave him his start, but helping others keeps him going strong.