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UNG well-positioned to contribute to University System's strategic goals

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The University of North Georgia stands poised to meet the goals outlined in the University System of Georgia's recently adopted "Strategic Plan and Public Agenda," as work nears completion on the university's own strategic plan. The University System plan centers on college completion and includes aligning college and university missions with system goals.

On Aug. 14, the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia (USG) approved a new "Institutional Function and Mission Policy" to ensure that individual missions and functions of the institutions are in sync with the USG mission.

The board has established four sectors for the system's 31 institutions: research universities, comprehensive universities, state universities and state colleges.

UNG remains classified as a state university; the 10 schools in the state universities sector offer a number of undergraduate and master's-level programs, but very few doctoral programs. UNG is one of five USG state universities approved to offer one or more doctoral programs.

UNG also is designated as The Military College of Georgia, making the university one of only a few USG schools to carry a special mission designation. With more than 15,000 students, UNG is the largest institution in the state universities sector.

The board also adopted the system's new strategic plan, which acknowledges a new environment for public higher education and positions the state's 31 public colleges and universities to meet changing needs and new expectations.

"We are in a 'new normal' when it comes to public higher education," Chancellor Hank Huckaby said. "The old days and old ways of structuring, funding and advancing higher education are gone and will not return. Our responsibility as higher education leaders in Georgia is to seize the day and ensure that the University System is structured and focused in ways that serves state needs and above all, serves students well."

The document notes that while some have questioned the value of a college degree, data continue to show future jobs will require higher levels of education.

"As a board, we are committed to ensuring the University System is ready and able to change to meet the demands of a new era," said Board Chairman Dink NeSmith. "We are going to accelerate our commitment to educational attainment, accountability, partnerships, performance, value and global competiveness."

The cornerstone of the plan is Complete College Georgia, which has the goal of increasing by 2020 the percentage of Georgians completing college from 42 to 60 percent, helping ensure the state can compete in a global economy. Each of the state's public colleges and universities has developed a plan to support the initiative, which includes coordination with technical colleges and other community organizations. Among other initiatives in UNG's Complete College Georgia plan, the university is spearheading a regional collaboration to ensure students from across northeast Georgia graduate from high school prepared to continue their education and contribute to the region's economy.

UNG's strategic planning process corresponds with the development of the USG strategic plan.

"The world we live in today changes rapidly due to technology, politics, the global economy and other factors," UNG President Bonita Jacobs said. "As a university that has a major impact on the economy, workforce and culture of this region, we need to be both responsive and proactive in meeting the needs of the state, this region and the country. The strategic planning process helps us determine how to best meet these needs that we continue to provide an academic and developmental experience that is relevant to educating globally prepared citizens."

Preliminary work on the university's strategic plan has been ongoing, beginning with an environmental scan conducted by faculty members this past fall. The university has published the data, as well as a draft of institutional values and vision, on the Strategic Planning website. Members of the university community are invited to review and comment on the information currently posted.

UNG's strategic plan is projected for completion in mid-October. Implementation will begin as soon as the plan is developed, and the UNG strategic planning process will operate on a three-year cycle from that point.

To read more about the recent Board of Regents actions, visit the USG website.

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