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Regents Chair Outlines Key Priorities For Coming Year

Atlanta — August 6, 2003

The University System of Georgia’s Board of Regents received their marching orders today for the current fiscal year (July 1, 2003 - June 30, 2004) from recently re-elected Board Chair Joe Frank Harris. In remarks outlining his goals, Harris informed the regents that they shared a responsibility to meet rising expectations for educational access and high-quality programs, to strengthen the quality of the University System and to be good stewards of the state’s limited resources.

The former governor began his second one-year term as chair of the 18-member board that oversees Georgia’s 34 public colleges and universities in July. Using the Board’s Strategic Plan, approved in June 2002 as a framework for action, Harris said the focus during the upcoming year would be on strengthening quality and increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of the University System. In addition, Harris said he wants to place key emphasis on using the System’s resources to help promote economic growth.

As he addressed his priorities for the board’s coming year, Harris returned again to the overall theme of partnerships. “Our partnership approach will still be the deciding factor in how well we do,” Harris said.

In the area of quality, Harris said despite tough economic times, the System’s drive to maintain and strengthen the quality of its programs would remain paramount. “We will not be second-rate in the services we provide and the programs we offer,” Harris said.

He cited the focus on quality in recent years has created a University System whose students have record-high SAT scores. Georgia’s public colleges and universities are nationally competitive, attracting outstanding students and faculty, and producing superior programs and research.

Harris said these achievements contribute to Georgia’s ability to attract business investment and create jobs. The former governor noted the importance of using the University System and its high reputation as a tool to help the state recover from economic recession. He said that’s why he wants the Board’s priorities this year to include economic development.

In a nod to Gov. Sonny Perdue, Harris pledged his support for the current governor’s efforts to manage the state’s budget during tough economic times, citing his former role as governor of the state, who understands the challenges of balancing the budget. “I know what it is to serve as governor during an economic downturn,” Harris said. “We will continue our history of working with the Governor’s office and General Assembly to address tough budget decisions. We are a partner.”

The need to work together on budget issues is the impetus behind the board’s third priority, increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of the System. Harris noted a number of long-range efforts currently underway that will help achieve these goals, including a study to look at ways to regionalize or consolidate some key operations.

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