Davis Ends Statewide Tour of University System of Georgia
New Chancellor Visits USG’s 35 Campuses and Skidaway Institute in First Four Months
Atlanta — June 20, 2006
University System of Georgia Chancellor Erroll B. Davis Jr. concluded his tour of the University System of Georgia on Friday (June 16), marking the end of a 36-site statewide trek that began during his first week on the job and wound around the Legislative Session and monthly Board of Regents’ meetings.
Davis’ tour of the USG was launched on Friday, February 6 at the System’s newest institution – Georgia Gwinnett College, in rapidly growing Gwinnett County. It ended on Friday in Savannah with a visit to Savannah State University and the USG’s Skidaway Institute of Oceanography. In between, the new chancellor touched all 35 of the University System’s colleges and universities in every part of the state – from Dalton to Valdosta, and from Columbus to Augusta – meeting with campus presidents, faculty, staff, administrators and students.
Included among the USG institutions Davis visited were four research universities, two regional universities, thirteen state universities, seven state colleges, nine two-year colleges, and the Skidaway research facility. (See map and websites of all the USG institutions at http://www.usg.edu/inst/)
At the tour’s conclusion, Davis reported that high-quality programs were in abundance throughout the University System, as he had anticipated, and that the USG touches the lives of all of the state’s citizens.
“As to be expected, I noted many areas of excellence on our campuses,” Davis stated. “But what impressed me the most was the overwhelming support that our campuses enjoy – not only in their local communities, but from the state of Georgia in general. This was especially poignant for me when our share of the state budget moved from 11 percent to 11.5 percent this year, at a time when support for public higher education is declining in other states.”
Davis said he also was impressed by the level of work being done on behalf of the USG’s campuses by members of the colleges’ and universities’ foundations, and by community leaders. “This strong external support is a critical factor in building preeminent institutions,” he stated. “In today’s higher education marketplace, we must diversify our revenue sources through externally generated funding. Such opportunities emanate from a base of solid support for the institution.”
The penetrating impact of the University System was not lost on the new chancellor. “I was provided with ample opportunities to note the impact of our colleges and universities on their local communities, the state, and even the entire nation,” Davis said. “Whether it is educating children, or providing technology, providing cultural enrichment or spurring community and economic development, what we do impacts every citizen in this state. It is clear that responsibility is not taken lightly.”
Davis also emphasized the diversity of the University System, and the fact that academic excellence is accessible not only at the large, research institutions such as the University of Georgia and Georgia Tech – both of which are nationally recognized among the Top 20 public universities – but also at the smaller four-year and two colleges in local communities.
“Some of our institutions have niches of excellence that are better known outside of the state than they are to Georgians,” Davis stated. “We must get the word out, and continuously tell our story in a compelling manner, so that our citizens are aware of the impressive resources they have at their disposal.”
In terms of next steps for Davis, he wants to move now toward establishing a new strategic plan for the University System. “My first step, now that I’ve wrapped up the statewide tour, will be to complete my discussions with the 18 members of the Board of Regents. Their feedback will be critical for me to mesh with the observations from the campus visits. “
Davis said he would delve earnestly into strategic planning this summer, with a primary goal of “better leveraging the resources of the entire University System. “
“The System works best when its leadership recognizes the benefits and advantages of being a part of a unified system of institutions, rather than a loosely linked ‘confederation’ of campuses.” Davis stated. “With all of the talent and resources we have on our campuses, I envision us engaging in more cost-sharing, enhanced collaboration, and sharing expertise across institutions for the better good of the System as a whole. If one institution has significant experience and strengths in particular areas of operational performance, we need to capitalize on those strengths and replicate them where appropriate.”
According to Davis, the System enjoys a tremendous reputation that is hard earned, and that must be continuously cultivated. “This is a wonderful system of public higher education that is wonderfully supported,” he stated. “We must not take that support for granted; we must earn it each and every day. That will be a key theme of my administration: working hard to earn and maintain the public support that we receive and enjoy.”