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New Board of Regents Chair Sets 4-Point Plan For His Term

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Focus Will Be On Students, Communications, USG’s Impact and Facilities Needs

Atlanta — August 2, 2005

Incoming Board of Regents Chair J. Timothy Shelnut officially began his “Year of Creating Opportunities” today, chairing the first public Board of Regents meeting of his term at the helm of the governing board for the state’s public colleges and universities.

Shelnut said “creating opportunities” would be at the core of his work as chair during the coming year, because the University System “has the opportunity to leverage important work already being done in some instances, and in other instances, the opportunity exists to forge new ground.”

The new chairman said the board’s top priority for the next few months would be the selection of a new chancellor for the System’s 34 colleges and universities. He noted “the full board is hard at work on this task, pursuing an ambitious schedule to fill this critical post by year’s end.”

Before outlining the “Four Point Plan” that will serve as the agenda for his chairmanship, Shelnut said: “The University System of Georgia currently faces many significant challenges that the Board of Regents is prepared to tackle in the coming months,” Shelnut emphasized. In addition to moving forward with the chancellor’s search, he said these priorities include accommodating rising enrollment in the System, meeting the demand for new facilities, and wisely directing increasing state support for the University System, and ensuring that the System maintains and enhances its national preeminence.

To launch the board’s emphasis on the identified priorities, Shelnut announced the formation of four special task forces charged with addressing the following specific goals and objectives:

  • Student Success (Retention, Progress and Graduation of Students): To be chaired by USG Senior Vice Chancellor for Academics and Fiscal Affairs Daniel S. Papp, Shelnut said the goal for this committee is to identify innovative strategies to improve the retention, progression (on-time completion of each year’s course load) and graduation rates of students. The group’s work will include a special focus on minority students’ performance in these three areas, where there are large gaps against their peers in other ethnic cohorts. The committee’s work would build upon recent successful System efforts in this area.
  • Expanded Communications: To be chaired by Board Vice Chair Patrick S. Pittard with assistance provided by Associate Vice Chancellor for Media and Publications Arlethia Perry-Johnson, Shelnut wants this task force to develop a communications plan and strategies to emphasize the System’s strengths and achievements, including the creation and publication of a new periodical for the board.
  • The University System’s Impact on the State of Georgia: To be chaired by Georgia Institute of Technology President G. Wayne Clough, with staff assistance provided by Joy Hymel, executive director of the University System’s Office of Economic Development, this task force will shape a comprehensive assessment of the University System’s total impact across a wide variety measurements. The assessment will initiate with the USG’s four research universities, and subsequently expand to the System’s remaining institutions. Shelnut said he would like the group’s work to reflect “our total impact on the state, from the number of jobs we create, to our cultural impact, to our economic ramifications, among other factors.”
  • Accelerated Facilities Financing: To be chaired by Regent M. Allan Vigil, with staff assistance provided by Vice Chancellor for Facilities Linda Daniels, this task force’s goals include: identifying recommendations to address the current need and backlog for System construction projects; assessing the effectiveness of the board’s current capital priority selection process; identifying ways to get ahead of future demand for facilities; and balancing the need for new buildings against the priority of maintaining existing structures. Shelnut said the committee might bring to the board recommendations for a special capital bonds package and ways to increase the use of private dollars to build new facilities. “We want the leadership of our campuses to know we recognize the critical nature of their ever-increasing facilities demands, and that we will do everything in our power as a governing body to ensure that these needs are being addressed,” he said.

Shelnut told the board the work would definitely adhere to board protocol, and intersect with the board’s standing and special committees as appropriate. In addition to the named chairs and staff, he said the task forces will involve other involve regents, University System office personnel, campus presidents and System staff and, in some cases, support and input from the private sector. Shelnut said it is essential to him that “all of the initiatives will have measurable goals and action plans.” He committed to bringing status report updates to the board as early as November, and future progress reports as progress dictates.

“These initiatives will require many people rolling up their sleeves, working together,” Shelnut stated. “I think we all would agree that we have a very aggressive and ambitious agenda for the year ahead, but this is work that is essential, and it’s doable.”

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