Happy New Year and welcome back to a new semester! I hope you all had a chance to rest and recharge, because while there is a lot to celebrate, there is also a lot to be done! (And for me, that includes getting back to the gym to lose my new holiday “expansion”!)
Looking at the strategic opportunities ahead of us in 2020, I want to share some highlights:
- In December, the Logistics Technology Leadership Council was charged, and Georgia Southern has taken a leadership role in being the educational partner in this effort, as we work together with area stakeholders (education entities, industry leaders, and SEDA) to establish this region and the state of Georgia as a global leader in logistics technology innovation through research, education, and technology transfer. In 2020, we will take strides toward achieving this goal with our partners as we work to create a business plan that will inform our path forward.
- In 2020, we will continue developing our regional education partnership network with area school systems and education stakeholders in both Chatham and Bulloch counties. In Chatham County, we will finalize a plan, in coordination with Savannah State and Savannah Tech, to fulfill the dual enrollment needs of the county. In Bulloch County, we will further implement early learning and Kindergarten-ready programs. As a reminder, the goal of these partnerships is to ensure that every student in this region has been given every opportunity–from birth to graduation–to become gainfully employed, enrolled in a local institution of higher learning, or enlisted in the military.
- I look forward to celebrating the completion of our new engineering research facility! The impressive structure, with state-of-the-art research labs, will be a spectacular addition to the Statesboro campus and will increase our capabilities for leading engineering innovation and serving the workforce needs of Southeast Georgia.
- We will continue developing our new hospitality management program within the Parker College of Business. A key piece of our regional academic plan, we plan to combine a highly sought-after curriculum with immersive management internships and coop opportunities in collaboration with regional partners and leaders in the hospitality industry.
- We will realize the full potential of our new learning center in Wexford, Ireland. When I visited in the fall, our excitement might have been overshadowed by the enthusiasm we saw from the leaders and community in Ireland. It’s clear our students will have an incredible experience with the people and our new facilities in Ireland.
- Our new potential partnership with Junior Achievement of Georgia has the opportunity to bring approximately 15,000-17,000 middle and high school students a year onto our Armstrong campus in Savannah in the coming years. Junior Achievement seeks to build a Discovery Center in Savannah, and we have identified the perfect spot in our rec center on the Armstrong campus as those operations move to a new location in the sports arena. These Discovery Centers are incredible hands-on learning environments for students and would give us an invaluable opportunity to engage Georgia Southern with the exact audiences we hope will become our future students. Stay tuned for more information as we move through the USG integrated review process and dialogue with Junior Achievement with the intent that this partnership will become a reality!
- This spring, I will need your help to educate our students about the importance of the 2020 Census. An accurate count of the residents in our communities ensures that we receive enough federal funding to support our population’s needs. It is important to know that the university will account for students who live on-campus. If students live off-campus, they need to respond to the online form and be counted as a resident of their off-campus location. College students should be counted where they live at the time of the census, not at their parent’s house! Please help me share this message to our students.
- In 2020, we will complete three searches for cabinet-level positions:
- Associate Vice President for Inclusive Excellence (and our Chief Diversity Officer): Three finalists have been identified and are scheduled to visit campus later this month. Please be on the lookout for more details as I hope you will take part in this search process.
- Athletic Director: We have formed a search committee, made up of a comprehensive group of campus and community stakeholders, and we have hired a search firm to help us identify highly qualified leaders from across the nation. We plan to have a new Athletic Director named mid-spring.
- Vice President for Student Affairs: Critical to the first pillar in our strategic plan, student success, we plan to kick off this search in the next few weeks.
- As guided by pillar three of our strategic plan, we will continue progress toward our Inclusive Excellence goals. Faculty attended a workshop on Friday that focused on these important issues. Inclusive Excellence will also be the topic of discussion for our upcoming Leadership Development Institute on Feb. 14. Additionally, the President’s Student Advisory Council (PSAC) has scheduled their next two “Courageous Conversations” for Feb. 17 and 18 on the topic of “Social Justice.” On March 9 and 12, we will talk about “Gender and Sexuality.”
Finally, I will point out that today is not only the first day of our spring classes, but also the first day of the Legislative session. Over the next few months, I will spend more time in Atlanta, helping to advocate for Georgia Southern and University System initiatives. I will be in Atlanta several days this week, in fact, to hear the Governor’s State-of-the-State address and also to present our budget and requests for the upcoming fiscal year to University System of Georgia personnel. Remember, this is the next step in the process we started in August by asking each division to assess and document their budget prioritization and needs.
Thank you for staying tuned through the end of this long email – I told you we have a lot to look forward to in 2020!
Here’s to a great spring semester!
Good morning and thank you to everyone as we finish out the fall semester with final exams, grades, projects, and commencement – it is the season when we reflect back on the year that is quickly coming to a close.
It has been a whirlwind first full semester at Georgia Southern. I am so thankful to work and collaborate with colleagues who believe in the transformational power of education. Ultimately, the success of our students is the pinnacle measurement of our success, and we have many stories that evidence the achievement of our students and graduates.
For instance, I recently received a letter praising one of our students, John Benz, for stopping to help a family who had just been in a terrible accident on I-16. Also, you might have seen the story on Good Morning America about one of our graduates, U.S. Army Brigadier General Vincent Buggs, who surprised a group of kindergarten students who he became pen pals with when he was deployed in Iraq (the students are now high school seniors.) Hopefully you saw the news that our fall 2019 Honors Program enrollment is the largest in the history of the institution, and that College Gazette just named Georgia Southern as one of the top ten “hidden gems” in the nation.
I am thankful for the Eagle Nation family that cares so deeply for this University and its mission. Every day, I am inspired by the commitment I see in our faculty, staff, students, and alumni.
I want to thank all who attended and engaged in our initial “Courageous Conversations” programs last week. Sponsored by the President’s Student Advisory Committee (PSAC) on Inclusive Excellence and facilitated by the Office of Multicultural Affairs, the focus of our first program was “Privilege, Respect, and Social Responsibility.” We had almost 200 participants.
As we press into these Courageous Conversations, I was so pleased with the openness and civil discussion that underscores our unwavering commitment to diversity and inclusion. No doubt, these are challenging times…our goal is to educate and elevate the dialogue so that inclusive excellence continues to define our values and behaviors. While it is difficult to for us to allow protected speech with which we vehemently disagree, we must uphold the Constitution of the United States.
Future town hall discussions will also aim to help us grow together through dialogue on how our differences, our diversity, makes us better and stronger together. In February 2020, PSAC will sponsor a town hall/panel discussion on “Social Justice” and in March 2020, the topic will be “Gender and Sexuality.” We will continue to press into these conversations. Please engage and visit the inclusive excellence website to learn more: https://www.georgiasouthern.edu/inclusive-excellence/.
Later this week, we will honor approximately 2,200 graduates at two commencement ceremonies – one in Savannah and one in Statesboro. You are all aware of our changed format this year. Our commencement committee, made up of departments across all divisions, has been meeting weekly since the beginning of the semester to ensure our graduation ceremonies provide the best possible experience for our graduates and guests. My sincere thanks go out to the planning team and all the people who will be working behind the scenes on Friday and Saturday in Savannah and Statesboro. I am excited to shake the graduates’ hands and celebrate their success!
Hopefully everyone saw my email to the university earlier this month about the FY2021 budget prioritization and development process. The timeline and process provided opportunity for each level of the institution to engage. It also required leadership to communicate prioritization decisions at each stage of the process – from departmental and unit discussions in August to prioritization decisions at the college, major unit, and divisional levels, to the submission of our FY2021 documents to the system office on Nov. 20.
As a reminder, we have completed the FY2021 budget prioritization and recommendations and provide the document links via the MyGeorgiaSouthern Portal (these documents are located on the Performance Excellence – FY2021 Budget Documents tab). Please contact your supervisor or divisional vice president if you have any questions.
Finally, I encourage you to nominate your exceptional colleagues for the newly announced University Awards of Excellence for Faculty and Staff, which are designed to identify and reward individuals and teams who make outstanding contributions to the success of Georgia Southern University.
Faculty Senate and Staff Council collaborated on this new award process, which will recognize individuals and one team that demonstrate excellence in performance and contributions to one area of the University’s pillars and values. A total of 25 awards will be given annually: 12 Strategic Pillar Awards (1 Faculty, 1 Staff), 12 Institutional Values Award (1 Faculty, 1 Staff) and (1) Team Award. The five strategic pillars have 6 award categories (Student Success; Teaching; Research; Inclusive Excellence; Operational Efficiency, Effectiveness & Sustainability; and Community Engagement) while our values also have 6 award categories (Integrity, Academic Excellence, Discovery & Innovation, Openness & Inclusion, Sustainability, and Collaboration).
For more information and/or to nominate someone, please go to www.georgiasouthern.edu/gsawards/.
Lots of information to share and so many wonderful things to celebrate at Georgia Southern. I wish everyone a wonderful holiday break. My hope for each of you is that your time off is filled with family, friends, laughter, and joy! And don’t forget to cheer on the Eagles at the Cure Bowl in Orlando on December 21 – Go Eagles!
People. Purpose. Action: Growing ourselves to grow others!