University System of Georgia chancellor connects with students‚ faculty‚ guests during campus visit
During his annual visit to campus‚ University System of Georgia Chancellor Erroll Davis assures constituents of KSU's strong strategic position in the face of economic uncertainties. To view complete story‚ click on headline.
(Oct 23, 2008) — Despite tough economic times‚ University System of Georgia Chancellor Erroll B. Davis
assured key Kennesaw State constituent groups that KSU continues to be one of the
system’s strategic focal points during his annual visit to the campus Oct.21.
Davis' day−long visit and tour of the campus included a marathon of back−to−back meetings that started with KSU President Dan Papp‚ followed by the president's cabinet. At Jolley Lodge‚ the chancellor greeted members of the KSU Foundation‚ university administrators‚ and business and community leaders‚ including four Cobb County mayors and the Cobb County and Marietta school superintendents. Davis also met separately with faculty‚ staff and student group leaders. In each setting‚ the chancellor offered brief‚ unscripted remarks‚ then opened himself to questions.
“Kennesaw is in the sweet spot of our strategic plans‚” Davis said‚ referring to the investments the system and its Board of Regents have made in KSU‚ including a 12 percent increase allocated for its 2008−09 budget. “This university has done many things right‚ and we see the results in the continued increase in the number of students that come here.”
The chancellor explained Kennesaw’s alignment with a key strategic goal for the University System of Georgia: the redistribution of enrollment among the system’s 35 institutions.
“Right now‚ Georgia’s [college enrollment] distribution looks like a column with a bubble in the middle‚ with one−third going to research institutions‚ about 40 percent to comprehensive institutions like Kennesaw and about 30 percent to two−year institutions‚” he said. “We have to move closer to the norm in most states‚ which looks more like a pyramid‚ with junior colleges that serve the most students at the base and the costlier research institutions at the top.”
Across the groups meeting with Chancellor Davis‚ a common concern was the economy and its impact on the university’s growth‚ quality‚ affordability and stability.
“There’s still uncertainty about the extent of the cuts we’ll sustain — whether it will be 6‚ 8 or 10 percent‚” Davis explained. “It’s clear that Kennesaw will absorb decreases in the increase that has already been allocated. Everyone is watching to see what happens with the state’s tax revenues over the next couple of months. In the meantime‚ we’re committed to trying to preserve the university system’s core mission.”
A critical issue in the economic uncertainty is maintaining quality in the face of eminent cuts‚ Davis said‚ noting that a high level of cuts could reduce the number of faculty or increase class sizes.
“There are risks we all have to manage in an economic downturn‚” he said. “I continue to argue that the risks in higher education are greater than for other state agencies. It’s not a matter of whether we can get by with less phone service‚ for example. We are preparing future leaders who need qualified faculty and smaller class sizes to assure interaction sufficient to develop critical thinking skills.”
Davis spent almost an hour with about 20 student leaders representing registered student organizations (SROs)‚ Student Government Association (SGA)‚ the Student Advisory and Budget Activities Council (SABAC) and athletics.
Students raised a range of concerns including: restrictions on pay−card use by student organizations; a lack of diversity among faculty; mandatory advisement; the cost of tuition for international students and the shut down of students’ access to the inter−library loan system.
In response‚ Davis explained the need to enforce reasonable controls on the use of P−cards in the face of reported abuses‚ and the rationale for establishing lower tuition for in−state students whose families pay state taxes. Regarding diversity‚ he said the system can put in place incentives for “opportunistic hires‚” but the reality at the campus level is that “faculty hire faculty.” The real solution‚ he told students‚ is to communicate expectations “respectfully” to the administration.
Davis took exception to the term “mandatory advisement‚” an issue raised by students and faculty alike. “What we have done is address the concern students have expressed about the quality of advisement‚ and tried to make it better and more consistent. We’re making sure faculty have a clear understanding that quality advisement is expected.” Again‚ he stressed student responsibility in keeping track of classes and requirements‚ using tools like the new two−year calendar and peer advisement groups.
A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.