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Ossabaw Foundation names director emeritus

POSTED: February 11, 2017 6:30 a.m.
Photo by Elizabeth DuBose/

Paul Pressly, director emeritus of the Ossabaw Island Education Alliance, dyes a shirt with Ossabaw indigo during a workshop on Ossabaw Island last year.

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OSSABAW ISLAND — Dr. Paul M. Pressly has been named director emeritus of the Ossabaw Island Education Alliance by the Ossabaw Island Foundation Board of Trustees.

The appointment was announced last month at the Ossabaw Island Foundation annual meeting. The island is off Bryan County.

Pressly has served as director of the alliance since 2005.

He is an award-winning historian who has conducted research on the colonial and post-Revolutionary history of Georgia, with an emphasis on coastal Georgia and Ossabaw Island.

Under Pressly’s leadership, the Ossabaw Island Education Alliance led or collaborated on several key initiatives including:

• Ossabest (2007-2010). The alliance led the installation of a wireless network on Ossabaw Island; collaborated with Skidaway Institute of Oceanography to create a network of data collecting sensors, monitors and observatory web-cameras; and worked with Armstrong State University to devise a $1.1 million grant-funded program for Savannah-Chatham County students and teachers.

• African American Life in the Georgia Lowcountry: 2008 symposium and 2010 book. Pressly and the alliance coordinated this symposium, bringing 10 historians in African American history together to present original research to an audience of 450 people over three days. Those papers were revised and expanded, and compiled into an award-winning book published by University of Georgia Press.

• Teacher workshops on colonial and antebellum history from 2009-13, focusing on Ossabaw and coastal Georgia, for middle school, high school, and university teachers and professors.

• Moon River District. Since 2013, Pressly has led a team of seven historic and visitor sites in the southern portion of Chatham County to create the Moon River District, a promotional effort to focus attention on the interrelated educational and visitor opportunities in the area generally surrounding the Moon River.

Prior to serving as director of the alliance, Pressly was headmaster of Savannah Country Day School from 1983 until 2004.

He earned a BA in history from Princeton University, an M.A. in public administration from Harvard University, and a Ph.D. in history from Oxford University.

In his new role, Pressly’s focus will shift away from program development and leadership, and will concentrate on original historical research that reveals "the voices and mystery of Ossabaw Island" and Georgia’s coast.

As director emeritus, his first project will be the completion of Coastal Nature, Coastal Culture: Environmental Histories of the Georgia Coast, a book based on the symposium of the same name that was hosted by the Ossabaw Island Foundation and Education Alliance in 2016.

Pressly directed the symposium and is co-editor of the book, which is scheduled for publication by University of Georgia Press in 2018.

The alliance is a collaboration between the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and the Ossabaw Island Foundation to encourage and support use of Ossabaw Island by colleges, universities and researchers.

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