In events held in Gainesville and Dahlonega on Aug. 12, University of North Georgia (UNG) President Bonita Jacobs celebrated the university's achievements and announced initiatives to support research opportunities and professional development for faculty and staff.
"Over the past 18 months, we have created a new model in higher education. Through the scope of our degree programs, leadership development opportunities, and multiple campuses, UNG offers a rare educational experience that builds on our tradition of excellence while preparing for future opportunities," Jacobs said. "High quality teaching and a commitment to student success are established strengths at UNG, and they will remain our hallmarks."
The university's accomplishments during the last year include:
- National recognition for value and excellence by Kiplinger, Money magazine, U.S. News and World Report, and Military Times
- Prestigious national scholarships and awards earned by several students
- Continued trend of steady growth making UNG the sixth-largest university in the University System of Georgia
- Increases in dual enrollment and online credit hours in support of Complete College Georgia
- Merger of two philanthropic foundations, the only one of the four consolidated institutions to do so, and raising of more than $1 million for student scholarships in a year
- Expansion of baccalaureate programs offered on the Gainesville Campus from eight to 20 since consolidation
- Continued growth and excellence by the Corps of Cadets
|University of North Georgia faculty and staff gather in Memorial Hall gym
on the university's Dahlonega Campus before the beginning of the annual
During her speech, Jacobs announced the creation of a new position in UNG's Office of Academic Affairs – an associate provost for research and engagement – that will support a more robust research structure that intertwines engagement, scholarship and innovation with an aim for increasing external funding. UNG is one of only two public universities in Georgia to earn the Carnegie Foundation’s classification for community engagement.
"This year will be marked by an increasingly productive exploration of our responsibilities to our students‚ our colleagues‚ and to our region. To highlight this shared sense of commitment and purpose as a public institution, it is only fitting that we designate the current academic year as, 'The Year of Engagement,'" Jacobs said. "As we have seen with our initiatives from last year, I know this deliberative approach will produce great results toward our continued success in teaching, scholarship and service."
Jacobs also announced an internal investment of $350,000 in faculty and staff initiatives and awards, an increase of $150,000 over similar initiatives funded by the president last year:
- Six Presidential Summer Scholar Awards of up to $10,000 to provide for significant summer release time for faculty
- Six new Presidential Semester Scholar Awards that provide one semester of release time – fall or spring – to focus on research and external engagement opportunities
- 20 grants of up to $5,000 each for Presidential Innovation Awards, open to both faculty and staff to support opportunities to improve institutional practices in teaching, student success or other functional areas within the university
- Seven new Presidential Excellence Awards to recognize staff who have demonstrated excellence through outstanding performance in accordance with the strategic goals of the university
UNG also plans to complete the third year of the three-year equity adjustment plan for faculty and staff salaries, provided state funding is made available, and Jacobs also has increased the professional development budget for UNG's Staff Council.
Dr. Karen Holbrook, a higher education consultant and former president of the Ohio State University, praised UNG's student-centered approach and engagement during her keynote address. (Click here to read the entire text of Holbrook's speech.)
"The University of North Georgia is ideally positioned to respond to the goals of the Kellogg Commission Reports of the past and the nearly identical goals for the so-called 'University of the Future.' You have many avenues for access, various venues and price points for admission, programs that accommodate the non-traditional students, and through your academic and research initiatives you are extensively linked with the region for purposes of outreach and engagement, economic development and providing assistance," Holbrook said.
She also credited UNG for the vision presented in the university's new strategic plan.
"The University of North Georgia makes a difference — for students, society and broader civic purposes. UNG, like all universities, will need to continually evaluate where to place your focus to balance the needs of the public, demands of the students, requirements of the policymakers, interests of the faculty and academic community with quality, cost and access," she said. "You are well on your way today with this focus through your efforts in developing a new and truly strategic plan for UNG’s future."
Dr. Patricia Donat, UNG provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, also spoke at UNG's faculty and staff assemblies to provide information about the university's new strategic plan. This fall, a team will be identified to begin implementing the plan, which can be viewed in its entirety on the strategic plan website.