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New funds help University System better serve students

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Atlanta — June 5, 2012

Ongoing work by Georgia’s public colleges and universities to increase college completion rates will get a boost in the upcoming year with $72.5 million in new funds. Gov. Nathan Deal and the General Assembly fully funded the University System’s enrollment formula, and as a result, all 35 institutions will receive new funding to strengthen programs serving the system’s almost 320,000 students.

“These new, targeted funds reflect our strong commitment to the Gov.’s Complete College Georgia Initiative and will be used by our campuses as they focus on better serving our students in ways that foster increased retention and ultimately graduation rates,” said Chancellor Hank Huckaby.

In the metro Atlanta region, Atlanta Metropolitan College, Clayton State University, Georgia Gwinnett College, the Georgia Institute of Technology, Georgia State University, Kennesaw State University, Southern Polytechnic State University and the University of Georgia in Athens are using the funds to increase the number of faculty (and consequently course sections) available to students, strengthen student advising and support programs aimed at student retention.

Here are some examples of the types of efforts these new funds will support.

Atlanta Metropolitan College is receiving $1,113,643 that will be used to hire nine additional full-time faculty and staff three academic advisement positions, as well as fund student progression and graduation programs, Hispanic recruitment and veterans’ services and other related efforts.

Atlanta Metro President Gary McGaha said, “The funds designated will increase college completion, enhance student success and close attainment gaps for traditionally underrepresented populations.”

At Clayton State University a total of $636,200 in funding will be used for seven new faculty and three staff positions that will enhance student services, as well as several other key priorities.

“We listed in our original statement of institutional priorities several faculty and staff positions that we considered critical to maintain and enhance our academic and student support mission,” said Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Micheal Crafton. “Our requests for funding were based upon strategic needs and upon overwhelming demand on our resources.”

Georgia Gwinnett College is targeting its $3.2 million in funding to making needed faculty hires to provide better student-faculty class size ratios and offer more course section options for students.

“Our access mission and location in Gwinnett position GGC to absorb a significant percentage of the USG’s projected system-wide increase of 100,000 additional students by the year 2020,” Georgia Gwinnett College President Daniel J. Kaufman said. “Georgia Gwinnett must continue growing dramatically for the next several years to meet that goal and ensure that the state has the educated and skilled workforce it needs for the future.”

Students at Georgia Tech will benefit from $7 million to address a number of issues with an emphasis on reducing the student to faculty ratio and campus safety initiatives.

“Georgia Tech is committed to provide the best possible learning environment for our students,” said Georgia Tech President G.P. “Bud” Peterson. “Under the leadership of the Board of Regents and with the continuing support of the legislature, we are able to provide world class education, research and economic development programs for the State of Georgia and its citizens.”

The state’s latest investment will allow Georgia Tech to provide additional courses/sections, increased opportunities for faculty and student interaction, as well as the ability for students to graduate in a more timely manner.

In addition to safety and other areas, a portion of the funding will also be allocated towards faculty retention, administrative support and programs designed to enhance the student experience, such as counseling, advising and student services.

Georgia State University plans to use its $8 million on a number of initiatives that directly benefit students. GSU will hire 42 academic advisors to provide enhanced student advising and 36 faculty to ensure availability of key course sections.

The advisors will assist students by employing a new, cutting-edge advising system that uses data to identify struggling students before their grades falter – the first of its kind in the nation. The university will also invest $1 million to provide needed research infrastructure support for its expanding research base.

In addition, GSU will use new funding to expand its successful “Keep HOPE Alive” program, where students who have lost the HOPE scholarship participate in a series of intensive academic workshops to help them get their grades back up. The program has shown striking results. Overall, only about 8 percent of students are able to gain the HOPE scholarship after they lose it. For those in “Keep HOPE Alive,” more than 60 percent successfully do so.

“Georgia State has raised its graduation rates by 29 percentage points in the last decade. With these new programs and resources, I am confident that our students will reach even higher levels of success,” said Timothy Renick, Georgia State’s associate provost for Academic Programs and chief enrollment officer.

Fast-growing Kennesaw State University has an allocation of $3.6 million, which it will use to boost its distance-learning efforts, including hiring a permanent executive director for KSU’s Distance Learning Center, which launched in 2010 to spearhead the university’s online learning strategy; hiring faculty and staff in under-resourced programs, and implementing efforts aimed at enhancing student success.

Ken Harmon, Kennesaw State provost and vice president for academic affairs, said that distance learning is a vital component in helping the university improve its student retention and graduation rates.

“We have seen a dramatic increase in demand for online learning,” Harmon said. “As the university continues to grow, distance learning is one way to help students fit the classes they need to graduate into their busy schedules, without compromising the quality of their education.”

Southern Polytechnic State University is investing $1.3 million in additional funds in new faculty positions in the areas of math, chemistry, biology and engineering; instructional equipment for laboratories; and technology and training to expand distance education.

Dr. Zvi Szafran, vice president for Academic Affairs at SPSU, said funds will help create new learning environments in which students will have the option on any given day to attend class “live,” take part in a real-time, interactive webcast from wherever they happen to be or watch a replay of the webcast at their convenience.

UGA plans to use its $7.8 million to strengthen academic programs and student support. The investment will fund new full-time faculty positions, build a center for molecular medicine, further UGA’s anti-obesity initiative, bolster online education, provide additional support for a new student information system, and restore and enhance library materials.

“This was an extraordinary year for UGA,” said President Michael F. Adams. “With these budget enhancements we have the opportunity to invest in some important programs of real quality that are important to the state and will show a strong return on the state’s investment.”

Over the past two years, the University of Georgia already has undertaken two faculty hiring initiatives to restore 60 tenured and tenure-track faculty positions. This third faculty hiring initiative will be focused on supporting the areas of greatest need in terms of addressing student enrollment pressures and reducing class size.

Adams notes that the UGA initiative will help ensure that students have the resources they need to graduate on time and, where possible, in smaller classes, thus directly contributing to the goals of the Complete College Georgia Initiative.

Editor’s note: for additional information and detail on the specific programs of the institutions listed in this release, please contact the institution’s public relations office, listed below. For information on programs at other USG institutions, contact that institution directly or phone 404-656-2250 for a name and contact number:

Atlanta Metropolitan College, Sheila Tenney (404)-756-4012

Clayton State University, John Shiffert (678)-466-4463

Georgia Gwinnett College, Sally Ramey (770)-316-5930

Georgia Institute of Technology, Matt Nagel (404)-660-2928

Georgia State University, Andrea Jones (404)-413-1351

Kennesaw State University, Tammy Demel (770)-423-6383

Southern Polytechnic State University, Sylvia Carson (678)-915-7222

University of Georgia, Cynthia Hoke (706)-542-8083 or Tom Jackson (706)-542-8090

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