October 7, 2021

Jessica Pope
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator

VSU Expands Impact by Taking Teaching, Learning to Local Housing Community



VALDOSTA — Valdosta State University recently partnered with IDP Properties to provide educational services for the residents of The Ashbury Apartments, a senior affordable housing community on North Ashley Street in Valdosta.

Facilitated by VSU’s Center for South Georgia Regional Impact, this cooperative agreement highlights VSU's desire to serve as a resource for South Georgia, utilize its highly talented faculty and staff to help drive community and economic development and shape the future of the region, and offer students real-world transformational and experiential learning opportunities.

“Our partnership with VSU is imperative to the success of our resident services,” said Laurie Jarvis, director of operations and compliance with IDP Properties.

Residents of The Ashbury enjoy a number of amenities, including a wellness center, a gazebo, an arts and crafts room, and a community garden. The VSU classes are an added benefit and help contribute to the housing community’s focus on healthy, active living.

“Part of IDP’s mission is to provide more than just housing,” Jarvis said. “We want to provide the residents a sense of community. IDP is successful due to the partnerships we develop. Our goal is to have a positive impact in Valdosta by serving our community and partnering with VSU.”

The Ashbury opened in June. Discussions with Darrell Moore, executive director of VSU’s Center for South Georgia Regional Impact began several months before that, while the housing community was still under construction.

As IDP Properties developed a wish list of classes for The Ashbury residents, Moore connected with VSU’s College of Nursing and Health Sciences, Harley Langdale Jr. College of Business Administration, and Office of Professional and Community Education and brought them on board.

The first classes were offered in July.

“Financial literacy, cyber security related to finance, retirement planning and basic investment knowledge is crucial for every American, especially with the changing retirement culture that puts the responsibility of both financing and managing the retirement funds on the shoulders of the individuals, as opposed to the traditional defined-benefit retirement plans,” said Dr. Elvan Aktas, professor of finance and interim head of the Department of Economics, Finance, and Healthcare Administration. “We had a small group during our first visit; however, we were still able to cover these important topics. The audience was very interested and engaged.

“It is a very important part of VSU’s mission to serve our community, and helping the citizens in our service area with improving their financial literacy, retirement planning, and basic investment knowledge is a valuable contribution by VSU.”

VSU’s classes at The Ashbury meet twice a month, with a morning session and an afternoon session to accommodate as many residents as possible. They are taught by VSU faculty, staff, and students and truly promote what VSU believes — that learning is best done actively and in collaboration with others. Classes cover a variety of topics of interest or value to the residents.

“We have so far provided two exercise classes, Ballet for Balance and Range of Motion, which demonstrate that ‘moving more’ is something that can be accomplished various ways and easily worked into everyone’s daily routine,” said Suzanne Ewing, administrative coordinator for the Office of Professional and Community Education (PACE) at VSU. “We also provided a Mock Stained Glass demonstration class where everyone got to make and take home a simple craft project.”

Ewing said she hopes this partnership will introduce more people to PACE’s Learning in Retirement Program, a member-led and VSU-sponsored organization that provides people ages 50 and older a host of things that are “good to know,” trips and tours, book reviews, and classes in the areas of health and fitness, fine arts, leisure, history and social studies, science and nature, and computers. With its focus on cultural growth, lifelong learning, and recreation, she said Learning in Retirement aligns perfectly with what The Ashbury envisions for its residents.  

Dr. James Pace, professor of nursing and dean of the College of Nursing and Health Sciences at VSU, said his team is busy preparing future presentations that will assist The Ashbury residents in maintaining, improving, and sustaining science-based health-promoting behaviors. He also plans to introduce the housing community residents to VSU’s Center for Exercise Medicine and Rehabilitation, which is located just half a mile away.

“The services offered by our faculty, staff, and students in the Center for Exercise Medicine and Rehabilitation have the potential to maintain The Ashbury residents’ mobility and core strength, which will increase their overall quality of life.”

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