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Board Recognizes ‘Best Practices’ Within System with Awards

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Atlanta — October 12, 2005

Awards were given to nine University System of Georgia institutions at today’s meeting of the Board of Regents for implementing new initiatives determined to be “best practices” in maximizing the use of USG resources.

The awards recognized exemplary practices implemented at Augusta State University, Darton College, Georgia College & State University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Georgia Southern University, Georgia State University, the University of Georgia, and Valdosta State University.

“This program recognizes and rewards innovative and efficient initiatives and business models,” said William R. Bowes, vice chancellor for fiscal affairs. “It is a fine example of positive competition, and the results continue to be impressive.”

This year’s competition drew 84 submissions from 20 institutions, divided among four categories: academic affairs, finance and business, student affairs, and information technology. Senior University System administrators in each of the four categories evaluated and scored the entries on the basis of their impact on operations; the benefits the practices provided to students, faculty, staff or others; and the effectiveness and efficiencies created, including cost savings, cost avoidance or productivity increases.

Two top recipients were identified in each of the four categories, with the top recipient receiving a $15,000 award and the second-place recipient receiving $10,000. Funds were provided from a strategic allocation established by the University System Office to reward programs of excellence.

This year’s “Best Practice” recipients are:

Academic Affairs

  • First Place: Georgia State University has implemented a freshman learning program comprised of a new-student orientation course and a freshman learning community program to increase retention and graduation rates at the large, urban research university. U.S. News and World Report has listed the GSU freshman learning community program on three different occasions as an “outstanding example of academic programs believed to lead to student success.”
  • Second Place: Valdosta State University’s “Learning More than we Teach: Service Learning in the Hispanic Community of South Georgia” initiative requires Spanish and foreign-language education majors to complete community work to enable them to effectively communicate with the constantly rising Hispanic population in the university’s forty-one county service area. Students work as mentors to migrant children and as interns in various programs, including providing support services such as interpreting to families to help them adjust to life in the United States and South Georgia.

Finance and Business

  • First Place: Georgia Institute of Technology implemented a low-cost online payment strategy this past spring by outsourcing the handling of credit card payments for tuition and other student fees, resulting in a cost savings of approximately $600,000 in FY 2005. The savings represent fees that the institution would otherwise have had to pay to merchants for use of the credit cards. Total savings are expected to be approximately $900,000.
  • Second Place Tie: Georgia State University’s bookstore is one of the first college and university bookstores in the country managed by Follet that has integrated course registration via BANNER with an e-commerce site for the sale of textbooks and supplies. Before this project began, GSU students first had to register for classes and then either visit the bookstore or its e-commerce site and match book numbers and titles with bookstore shelves to buy the books. Now, students register for courses online and are given the option to buy the textbooks listed for those courses, new or used, at the same time.
  • Second Place Tie: Augusta State University’s bookstore was able to reduce the cost to students for textbooks after a comprehensive faculty-satisfaction survey indicated that competitively priced textbooks are very important to faculty. In the wake of the survey, the bookstore improved communication and cooperation with faculty; improved the way used textbooks are acquired; and improved its relations with textbook vendors.

Information Technology

  • First Place: the University of Georgia’s Office of Information Security implemented an online security-awareness training program to inform staff about the risks and threats they face and the simple countermeasures they can take, regardless of their technical skills and abilities. The goal of the program is to reduce the risks that organizations face due to lapses in security.
  • Second Place: Darton College received a United States Department of Agriculture Rural Utilities Service grant to fund a live-video-streaming project for the benefit of rural communities in its service area. A pilot program offering two complete degree programs to the communities of Cordele and Colquitt was so successful that the project now has been expanded to include other areas. The greatest benefit of video -streaming is its low cost to rural communities, where there may not be enough enrollment to hire faculty and build a program. Via streaming technology, students in these areas can be “piggybacked” into existing classes already being offered on campus.

Student Services

  • First Place: Georgia College & State University delivers financial aid award letters to students online. E-mails are automatically sent to a student each time his or her award is made or adjusted. The student then may accept the awards online, adjust the award, or decline any portion or the entire award. Students now have an easy, highly accessible means of viewing their aid packages and no longer have to wait for paper notification to be delivered through the mail.
  • Second Place: Georgia Southern University students benefit personally and academically from a program called House Calls. Based on the principle of physicians making house calls to patients, Georgia Southern faculty and staff members visit students in their residence halls during the second week of classes. Students are able to see and interact with faculty and staff members in their own living environment, and they learn from them what it takes to succeed in college.

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