Sheila Caldwell has joined the University of North Georgia (UNG) as director of Complete College Georgia. Caldwell was formerly the state coordinator of high school initiatives for the Technical College System of Georgia.
Complete College Georgia was announced by Gov. Nathan Deal as a statewide initiative in the wake of a 2011 study by Georgetown University that found Georgia will need to increase the percentage of its population with some level of college completion from a current 42 percent to 60 percent to meet projected workforce needs. Each of the state’s public colleges and universities have developed individual plans to support the initiative, which include coordination with the state’s technical colleges and other community organizations.
Dr. Al Panu, senior vice president for university affairs, said Caldwell's experience is an excellent fit for the needs of the new position at UNG.
"Sheila Caldwell brings a complete and excellent background needed to perform an effective job as UNG's director of Complete College Georgia, a very important initiative to the success of this university, the region that we serve and the entire state," Panu said. "Her years of experience in higher education and success in connecting with educators, parents and community members across the state will serve her well in this role."
Caldwell, who started on July 15, said she is excited and eager to get to work.
"I love this whole mission because I think it's really going to transform education," Caldwell said. "I think this is really going to be a catalyst to engage the whole community and get them involved in education. People know the value of education, but as we engage business and industry, K-12 and the entire community, we need to let them know how we're trying to help make a stronger community, a stronger region and a stronger Georgia."
Caldwell said she is very impressed with UNG's Complete College Georgia plan.
"The plan ensures that we're equitable and reaching all students, especially the underrepresented populations, but there also is a strong emphasis on being effective," she said. "We want students to graduate and become self-sustaining, contributing members of the economy."
Initiatives such as dual enrollment, in which high school students take college courses in conjunction with their own curriculum, and educating middle school students about courses needed to prepare for various career opportunities will help boost the initiative, she said. Institutions of higher education also need to improve, including instruction methods and reducing the time it takes to earn a degree.
"One of the great things about the Complete College Georgia plan is that it's going to foster more collaboration and we're going to see everyone get on the same page. It's going to merge our efforts and our interests so we can really work to advance students in a more efficient way," she said.
First on Caldwell's agenda is meeting with the various departments and divisions across the university to get up to speed on the work already being done on Complete College Georgia initiatives.
In her position with the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG), Caldwell worked on enrollment growth strategies with the technical schools and was focused on growing the state's dual enrollment programs. Before her position at TCSG, Caldwell worked in admissions at Northwestern Business College, Illinois Institute of Art and Georgia Medical Institute. She also served as dual enrollment coordinator for DeKalb Technical College.
Caldwell has a bachelor's degree in marketing from Northern Illinois University and a master's degree in educational leadership from Argosy University. She currently is pursuing a doctoral degree in workforce education from the University of Georgia.