In 1982, the then Augusta College (AC) asked a group of leading citizens to recommend ways in which AC could best serve the Augusta community. One of the six suggestions submittted by the committee was for a research center to serve the needs of both public and private sectors of society. The advisory committee state, "The college should place more emphasis on faculty research to help solve local problems. Possibly an institution or center could be created to focus on these efforts."
As a result, the AC Research Center was formed. The center was first headed by Dr. Ralph Walker, who at the time was coordinator of the paralegal program and professor of political science. In 1984, the first year of operation, the Research Center made $49,000. Dr. Walker said that the money was used to pay people who worked on the projects, to pay overhead to AC, and to provide seed money for additional projects.
One of the most extensive projects of 1984 was the wage-and-salary study conducted for the city of Augusta. The purpose of this study was to evaluate all city positions in terms of responsibility, education, training and other variables, to write job descriptions for each position and to set up an equitable wage scale based on this information. The three-month study was conducted by four faculty members, two staff members, and one wage-and-salary expert. Among other projects completed that year were 15 political surveys, nine comparative cost-of-living surveys, numerous market surveys for local businesses and several community surveys for area hospitals.
Dr. Walker, the initial Director of the Research Center, led the Center for twenty-six years. He mentored countless students, student assistants, faculty and staff during his time as the Director of the Center and Professor of Political Science. You can often ask people who went to AC or ASU about Dr. Walker, and he was probably one of their favorite professors. The Mayor of Augusta, Deke Copenhaver, credits Dr. Walker with his interest in politics.
Professor Emeritus, Dr. Ralph Walker is now retired and living in Augusta with his wife of twenty years, Monica. You may even see Dr. Walker on campus, since he occasionally takes a history class.
In 2010, Dr. Saundra Reinke took the reins of the Research Center, maintaining its strong ties to the community. The name of the Center was expanded to the Center for Public Service and Research to better identify the true mission of the center. Dr. Reinke continues evaluations for federal grants on campus and is Professor of Public Administration in the Department of Political Science.