What might seem like different plans calling for greater efficiency, moves like the consolidation of schools such as Augusta State and Georgia Health Sciences universities are part of a longterm strategy to get greater value and more focus on student services, a University System of Georgia spokesman said.
The system’s Board of Regents approved Wednesday a new Strategic Plan and also a new “sector policy” calling on the colleges and universities to more tightly focus on their particular missions, spokesman John Millsaps said. The process began with the arrival of Chancellor Hank Huckaby and has continued with his call for more judicious use of resources to respond to what he calls the “new normal” of reduced state funding, Millsaps said.
“His theme is to focus the system, to re-pivot it so that the focus isn’t necessarily on institutions or programs but how they serve students,” Millsaps said.
It includes things like a space utilization study to look at how efficiently schools are utilizing what they have and was one of the primary drivers behind consolidation, Millsaps said.
It is trying to answer the question of “how do you direct those resources to the primary mission in the best way possible,” he said. State funding took a hit in recent years but even with the economy slowly recovering Huckaby is warning “don’t expect that the way it has been done in years past is coming back,” Millsaps said.
For instance, a budget for new signage with the Georgia Regents University name, approved Wednesday by the board, will be funded by money from the clinical system and the margin it affords the university, a GRU official said.
There are people asking hard questions about the value of the education schools are providing and Huckaby wants schools to be able to answer that, Millsaps said.