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Doctors, Math and Science Teachers at Head of Class in $2.3 Billion FY09 Budget Request by Board

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Regents Also Request $215 Million in Construction for University System

Atlanta — August 7, 2007

Georgia needs more doctors, mathematicians and scientists, along with teachers in mathematics and science, and the University System of Georgia (USG) Board of Regents wants to take action to ensure the state gets them. A key part of a record $2.3 billion Fiscal Year 2009 budget request approved by the regents today for the USG includes recommendations for $7.2 million to expand the Medical College of Georgia (MCG) and $10 million for a Science, Technology, Engineering, Math (STEM) initiative.

The regents also approved a recommendation for $215 million to build needed University System facilities. The FY09 budget proposal and capital recommendations now go to the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget.

“This budget request is truly strategic in outlook,” said Chancellor Erroll B. Davis Jr. “Both in the enhancements we are proposing and the buildings we are recommending to Gov. Sonny Perdue, we are following the blueprint of the Board’s new strategic plan. Our overall policy objectives are driving our budget request to ensure we meet the state’s highest priorities in a timely and efficient manner.”

Davis is referring to a broad, six-point Strategic Plan for the System, also approved today by the board, which has as a central theme building the USG’s capacity to ensure it is ready to meet the state’s growing needs for higher education, research, and economic development.

The proposed $7.2 million in the FY09 budget request for the Medical College of Georgia expansion would be added to $2.8 million in planning dollars previously appropriated for this effort by the General Assembly in the FY08 budget. The additional dollars will enable MCG to rapidly assemble key components of a significant expansion of class size, such as additional teachers and temporary space, once the planning process is complete.

“The planning process will help us identify the best framework and timeframe for additional, quality expansion,” said Dr. Daniel W. Rahn, MCG president and USG senior vice chancellor for health and medical programs. “Clearly the state has a compelling need for more physicians and we must move efficiently and effectively to meet those needs.” Expansion planning includes examining the school’s home base in Augusta as well as clinical campuses in Albany and Savannah and a potential four-year satellite campus in Athens.

Rahn said that Georgia needs the additional physicians, as the state ranks ninth in the country in population but 37th nationally in the supply of physicians, and 35th in the number of medical students to population.

The $10 million STEM initiative is designed to meet increasing state and national personnel shortages of students graduating in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines, as well as a shortage of middle and high school teachers in these fields.

Jan Kettlewell, associate vice chancellor for P-16 initiatives, who is heading up the STEM effort, said the “math plus science equals success” initiative will have three interconnected strategies: to increase both the level of preparation for and interest by K-12 students in majoring in STEM disciplines in college; to increase the academic success of STEM majors in college; and to produce more and better science and math teachers for the K-12 system.

In FY2006, only three teachers were prepared by the USG to teach high school physics, said Kettlewell. Currently the USG produces less than 700 science and mathematics teachers to meet a growing need by 2010 of approximately 4,500 teachers in these fields, she said. The goal of the initiative is to increase the number of bachelor’s degrees awarded in the STEM disciplines from 4,726 in 2006 to at least 7,200 by 2013. Over the same time period, the number of math teachers the System produces will increase from 411 annually to 750 and the number of science teachers from 267 to 590.

The STEM initiative is structured as a public-private partnership and will seek a one-to-one match of private funds for the $10 million public investment. Private dollars will be used for scholarships and for service-cancelable loans equal to full tuition and fees to attract traditional and non-traditional students to prepare to become middle and high school science and math teachers.

In addition to the recommendations for MCG and STEM, key features of the $2.3 billion FY09 budget request are $116.6 million in new dollars generated by increases in the USG’s base funding formula. Most of the increase in the formula funding – $81 million – is the result of a 3.6 percent increase in the number of college credit hours taken by the USG’s 260,000 students. The formula increase also includes increased funds for building maintenance and operations ($9.7 million) and additional funds to cover increases in the costs for electricity ($2.8 million), retiree fringe benefits ($4.7 million), and health insurance premiums ($18.1 million).

The FY09 Budget request also includes $17.5 million in cash for needed major repairs and renovations (MRR) to the System’s 3,115 buildings. This requested amount, when added to $17.5 million in cash already in the current base budget and an associated $35 million in general obligation bonds requested by the regents as part of the capital outlay package, will provide the University System with a total of $70 million for MRR projects.

The $215 million requested for new capital construction in FY09 is the first time the Regents have utilized a new strategic capital model, approved by the board last year. Designed to be more responsive and dynamic than the former process, the new model is strategic in nature, data driven, and is based upon each institution’s current enrollment, anticipated enrollment growth, total square footage on campus, the age and condition of current facilities, as well as the priorities of the board as reflected in its new Strategic Plan.

Included in the $215 million request is $191.5 million to construct or upgrade nine facilities, six of which support the regents’ focus on medicine and the mathematics and science fields. These include:

  • MCG – School of Dentistry, $70 million
  • Southern Polytechnic State University – Engineering Technology Center, $38 million
  • Valdosta State University – Math and Computer Science building renovation, $4.5 million
  • University of West Georgia – northwest campus infrastructure improvements, $2 million
  • Clayton State University – Business/Health Science building remediation, $9 million
  • Georgia Southern University – Health and Human Sciences building renovation, $4 million
  • Georgia Tech – Innovative Learning Resource Center, $50 million
  • Skidaway Institute of Oceanography – Marine operations infrastructure, $1.2 million
  • Georgia State University/Georgia Perimeter College – academic facility at the Alpharetta Center, $12.8 million.

Also recommended is $7.9 million in design money for six projects:

  • Albany State University – Ray Charles Fine Arts Center, $1.5 million
  • Coastal Georgia Community College – Health Sciences Building, $1 million
  • East Georgia College – Statesboro Academic Facility, $500,000
  • Gordon College – Nursing/Health Building, $1 million
  • Gainesville State College – Academic Facility, $2.4 million
  • University of Georgia – Special Collections Library, $1.5 million

There were five projects previously funded for construction that now require funds for equipment totaling $15.6 million at Fort Valley State University, Kennesaw State University, Macon State College, Savannah State University, and UGA. These equipment funds also were included in the regents FY09 capital request.

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