Chancellor Huckaby’s Report to the Board of Regents
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Thank you Chairman Tarbutton. On behalf of the Board and the University System Office, let me express my appreciation to President Bloodworth and President Azziz for their hosting of this regents’ meeting. Dr. Bloodworth and Dr. Azziz, please extend our thanks to your great staff for their hard work. This meeting returns the Board to its long-standing practice of formally visiting two campuses during the year. I realize that hosting the board meeting represents a tremendous amount of work for our institutions, and we do appreciate all of the very fine efforts to make this a very smooth and informative meeting.
Over the past fourteen weeks, I have conducted campus visits, held meetings with legislators and regents, and met other responsibilities. In fact, during this Board meeting I did double duty, using the occasion to make my official campus visit yesterday to Augusta State. That visit was my 23rd. The others are on the books and I look forward to completing these visits.
Let me share with you some impressions from some of these visits. These don’t do justice to the depth of what I have witnessed, but give you an idea of the important work that is occurring.
The passion of the music students at Albany State was obvious. There is a proud musical tradition there, even given the space constraints. This sense of pride and tradition was not limited to the music students but was expressed by everyone we met, including alumni.
Georgia Southern was alive and vibrant with throngs of students crowding the pedestrian mall as we slowly made our way on a golf cart tour of the campus.
Bainbridge College students spoke of the accessibility of their faculty and administrators and of their genuine concern with student progress and success. They felt a very close sense of community.
Skidaway Institute of Oceanography research scientists spoke of their commitment to basic research and the critical importance it has on caring for Georgia’s coastal treasures. I met one Dutch scientist who expressed his surprise and dismay that Skidaway is better known in his country and the rest of Europe than in Georgia.
Savannah State students, faculty, staff, community and alumni have a devotion for that university that is inspiring. The Marine Science program in particular is a real point of pride. I spoke with several students who were doing their graduate studies there and are excited about the program.
On every campus visit, students have expressed their pride in their institution. All the students I have met have been very candid and frank. No one holds back. In many instances it is interesting is that students are asking as tough or tougher questions than faculty! When I talk to students and faculty I find that their thoughts and concerns fit the thematic outlines I put forth in the August meeting: those of performance, partnership and the value of higher education.
With that as a long preface, let me round out this report with an update on the three initiatives I announced in September – space utilization, design architecture, and campus consolidation. In addition, I will touch on a few other areas of activity related to our performance, partnerships and values focus.
There will be two phases to our space utilization review. Phase One will be assessments at six pilot institutions. We will use this to develop a uniform system approach. A working group composed of institutional and System Office staff will be central to this effort. We don’t do this work in a vacuum – it will be hands on with campus involvement throughout.
Phase two will roll out the model developed in the first phase to the remaining institutions. The next steps: we will solicit nominations for the working group from the presidents and then we will kickoff the pilot assessments with a charter meeting of this working group.
We are scheduling the first kickoff meetings with architects to discuss design principles. Our goal with this initiative is to ensure that all parties involved in the process are good stewards for the citizens of Georgia and that all stake holders involved in the programming, design and construction of a building share the same philosophy about the building’s character in the context of the campus.
Emphasis will be placed on the building’s functionality, and the appropriateness of construction materials to be used. We will focus on achieving both an efficient design that yields a return on investment thru operating cost savings over time and, even more importantly, on effective design that adds value by enhancing the teaching and learning process as well as the research and service that happens within our built environments.
As I travel the state and meet with various individuals, a constant question I receive is on consolidation. We will soon finalize the criteria for assessing consolidations and will share those recommendations with the Board. Following receiving your input, we will be able to share more details and our plans for moving forward. We want to do this in a careful and thoughtful way, but we also will move expeditiously.
Let me just touch on several areas that relate to our efforts to improve performance, strengthen partnerships and communicate value.
In the area of performance, we are moving ahead on our academic program and facility proposal process. We have now in place an integrated proposal review process. The purpose of this process is to lead to better decisions and to assure the public and state officials that we are thinking very carefully about how we allocate our resources. The first set of questions will focus on whether the new degree or program or building is needed. Academic Affairs, Fiscal Affairs, and Facilities staff will all review each proposal.
Another area of performance relates to our Shared Services efforts. We have listened; we have learned. We remain committed to obtaining efficiencies through a shared service approach. However, we have reassessed and will continue to reassess the concept to make sure it makes sense for the System and the institutions.
We are reconstituting the Shared Services Governance Council and appreciate the hard work by Mac McConnell and this group. Moving forward, Columbus State President Tim Mescon has agreed to chair the new council, which will have a mix of academic affairs, HR and other campus professionals, along with System Office staff who will serve ex-offico. Another structural change is that the council will report to John Brown, while day-to-day oversight will be provided by Dr. Curt Carver.
Another area of performance concerns our academic program delivery efforts through online learning or distance education. This also ties into our space utilization work – can specific online learning help us meet growing academic needs without a corresponding increase in space.
To help us focus on our distance education efforts, I am pleased to announce that Jon Sizemore has been named assistant vice chancellor for Distance Education for the Board of Regents. Jon is currently director of eLearning at Valdosta State University. He has both the knowledge of the University System and its history with distance learning, as well as the expertise in the field of online education and technology to move this critical function forward and in the right way for students throughout the University System.
In the area of Partnerships, I will note three current efforts.
On Monday, Oct. 17, we will host at the Georgia Tech Ferst Center a “Social Business and Microcredit Forum.” The daylong conference represents a true, collaborative, partnership effort with many educational, economic development organizations and agencies and the private sector. We have as our keynote speaker, Nobel Prize Winner, Prof. Muhammad Yunus, the “father of microcredit.” The conference features a competition among students at our institutions to develop a social business plan that will address a key issue in a community. Ideally, these plans will create the potential for new jobs.
During this board meeting, you have heard updates on two other partnership efforts: our work with the Technical College System on articulation and the college completion efforts through Complete College Georgia. Both of these efforts reflect our work to strengthen key partnerships to benefit the state and students.
In terms of value, I referenced in my beginning remarks the remarkable students I have met on my campus visits. As I meet and talk with groups around the state, I use every opportunity to advocate for the value of public higher education in terms of the values our graduates take into the world. We are going to continue to advocate for this core mission. We will develop a communications plan with input and participation by our campuses. We are committed to telling our story more effectively.
Some of our graduates are newly minted. Some of them, like me, have a bit a burnish from long and constant use. Let me close by mentioning one of this System’s graduates, who certainly has burnish. His career is a great example of an individual who is equipped with the values we seek to instill and who has used those values on behalf of the state and its citizens.
Tom Daniel, a UGA graduate, has been named as the 2011 recipient of the Marvin D. “Swede” Johnson Achievement Award. The Johnson award is a national honor and recognizes individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to the advancement, quality and effectiveness of state relations on behalf of a higher education institution or state system. It is a collaborative recognition by four national higher education associations.
The award is named in honor of the late Marvin D. Johnson, a longtime director of state government relations at the universities of Arizona and New Mexico. Tom will formally receive the award this December at the annual Higher Education Government Relations Conference. I’ve known Tom for virtually his entire career. He not only exemplifies what I mean about the value of higher education to the individual, but his work truly meets all of the very high qualifications demanded by this award. Join me in congratulating Tom on this well-deserved award.
Mr. Chairman, that concludes my report.