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More degrees, help needed to fuel new university's growth

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 The new name will still rankle many in Augusta, but Georgia Regents University is aiming to have 12,000 students by 2020 with a host of new degree programs and strengthened graduate and postdoctoral programs in a broader number of areas, officials said.

Augusta State University is focusing on first-semester performance, which has been found to be a reliable predictor of whether a student graduates from college.  MICHAEL HOLAHAN/FILE
MICHAEL HOLAHAN/FILE
Augusta State University is focusing on first-semester performance, which has been found to be a reliable predictor of whether a student graduates from college.

To strengthen its undergraduate program, Augusta State University will try to get more scholarships to students who are also working jobs and fix a dismal remedial math system. But to get there, it will take money, and the state will have to decide if it wants to commit to building a comprehensive research university, interim ASU President Shirley Strum Kenny said.

“If the state wants this, they’ve got to invest in it,” she said. “There is no way you can do it on the very tight budget on which ASU is running. I will say the budget is so tight it was a real shock to me when I came here. There should be a plan, a five-year plan, a 10-year plan that says this is the way we’re going to grow – and that the state commits to.”

The consolidated ASU and Georgia Health Sciences University is putting together ambitious plans for growth while trying to fix and enhance the undergraduate programs that are primarily at ASU, beginning with some changes this fall before the consolidation in early 2013. In its Complete College Georgia Plan, which came from Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal’s push to increase college graduation rates in the state, the universities acknowledge a dismal success rate in remedial math programs at ASU.

Of the 258 students who enrolled in remedial math in fall 2007, 128 – or about half – passed, but only 32 – or 12.6 percent – completed the follow-up math course. One solution would take follow-up math courses now offered three days a week over two semesters and combining them into a five-day-a-week, single-semester course, said Dr. Carol Rychly, the vice president for academic affairs at ASU.

“It’s just building in any remediation as it is needed,” she said.

ANOTHER APPROACH MIGHT be a “flipped” class, where math skills are broken down into modules of different skills and lesson plans are accessed on the students’ own time and at their own pace, Rychly said. Then in class “they are spending time on the things they really need to spend time on” and getting more individual attention, she said.

Kenny is a big fan of that, having started out teaching English composition half an hour a week with individual students as opposed to lengthy group classes.

“It was wonderful,” she said.

“You dealt with that student’s particular problems, which was different in every student and is different in every student. I have tried for the rest of my career to sell that model to faculty who complain that it takes too many hours a week to do that.”

ASU IS ALSO focusing on the “gateway” initial classes, some of which have withdrawal, D or F rates as high as 64 percent. A student survey found that a low grade-point average in the first semester is a powerful predictor of whether a student goes on to graduate, so more attention will be devoted there and instructors will be given more of a “toolbox” to address student difficulties, Rychly said.

Part of the solution is creating a “community college” with the new university, perhaps in conjunction with East Georgia State College in Swainsboro, to steer some of those students into two-year degree programs, Rychly said.

“What we do know is the data from the (U.S.) De­partment of Labor suggests that a two-year degree is much more valuable economically to a student than is having completed just two years of college, that actually getting that degree makes them more marketable,” she said. “What we also know is students who get associate degrees are more likely to go on and actually complete a bachelor’s degree.”

Another solution would be finding more need-based scholarships for students who are working – 29 percent of ASU’s students work more than 20 hours a week – or caring for family more than 20 hours a week, which was true of 14 percent.

THERE SHOULD ALSO be more offerings for those pursuing a degree. When combined, the two universities will have 111 degree programs, compared to 271 at Georgia State University, 474 at the University of Georgia and 141 at Georgia Southern University, GHSU Provost Gretchen Caughman said. The new university is considering offering new bachelor’s degree programs in anthropology and ecology and possible graduate programs that could combine an MBA with a medical or dental degree, she said.

There would be only 14 doctorate programs, most at GHSU, in the new university, compared to 98 at UGA, Caughman said. That has to change, Kenny said.

“If we are to be taken seriously as a research university, we really have to develop graduate programs, doctoral programs, across the spectrum,” she said.

The goal is to reach 12,000 students in the consolidated university, and it will take a lot of new faculty – for every 500 students there need to be 25 faculty members, Rychly said.

There also needs to be more of a focus on providing the type of environment, from on-campus housing and dining to a general atmosphere around town, that will entice students to come to the new university, officials said.

“This university is about the students,” GHSU President Ricardo Azziz said. “That involves the community. The community has to come together and assist us in that student-friendly environment.”

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puppydog
228
Points
puppydog 09/15/12 - 08:42 pm
3
1
The merger is between 2 incongruous institutions

The merger is between 2 incongruous institutions. If GHSU is trying to become a world class, top tier research university, they can't have a community college with low admissions standards and a low graduation rate pulling them down. Either forget about being a top research university and medical school, or force ASU to up their admissions standards. They will accept anyone who applies, with minimum GPA's & SAT scores. What do you expect when you accept this caliber of student- of course the graduation rates are going to be low and they are not going to be able to even pass the remedial courses- that is evidence right there that they are not ready for a university. Some people need to go to a 2 year Jr college or Augusta Tech (or East Georgia College), then maybe try to work their way up to a university. UGA does not have a problem with drop outs, low graduation rates or students not passing remedial courses (I seriously doubt if anyone accepted into UGA would even get accepted if they needed a remedial course. Their admissions standards are extremely high. Which, by the way, is more in accordance with a medical school).

Fools_and_sages
360
Points
Fools_and_sages 09/15/12 - 09:21 pm
1
1
Admissions standards
Unpublished

Criticizing admissions standards before you know of plans to change them is spurious. Admissions standards at the part of GRU that is now ASU will change because they have to. In time, they will become more like those at UGA and Southern. Of course, that means a lot of local people from Augusta may have to go to Augusta Tech, Georgia Military College, or East Georgia College in Swainsboro to get a two-year degree before they can even get into GRU. That means that local high schools need to do more skills assessments on their students to help these kids determine the best post-high school educational track for them. That means no more "4 year degree for everybody" mentality, which, honestly, will mean more people get two year degrees that lead directly to jobs and they won't drop out or flunk out of a four year degree program with loan debt they will never be able to pay. On the other hand, admissions standards mean that some top students who go to UGA or Southern might choose to stay home and go to college. But changing admissions standards must be phased in and the current remediation atmosphere at ASU needs to be gradually scaled back. You can't just cut off the latter and install the former immediately because there are too many kids who started at ASU before consolidation was even thought of and they need to complete their degrees or make their choices before new admissions standards and reduced remediation can become reality. Consolidation is done in terms of university administrative apparatus as of January. However, implementing R1 aspirations and achieving R1 status may take a decade or more to achieve.

Riverman1
90754
Points
Riverman1 09/15/12 - 09:38 pm
2
0
Kenny has said remediation

Kenny has said remediation will INCREASE. She also pointed out moving to R1 would take DECADES. She also pointed out it all must be funded. And that's the problem. It ain't gonna happen. Azziz leaves in a few years, the college continues with limited funding that Kenny also points out. We'll clean up the mess eventually.

Gage Creed
18920
Points
Gage Creed 09/15/12 - 09:43 pm
4
0
If we keep posting his resume

If we keep posting his resume on the job searches maybe he will get the message? Can we chip in for a head hunter?

Riverman1
90754
Points
Riverman1 09/15/12 - 10:07 pm
1
0
The Only Thing I Like

The only vision of Azziz I favor is enlarging the schools from their current locations. Instead of the nascent plans to move large portions of ASU to the Wrightsboro Rd location, he plans to branch out in the city... even with dorms.

Providing housing for med students and ASU students is really the best way to help the city. If you want to see immediate and dramatic changes that are like a giant rock rolling causing spin-off businesses, add a couple of thousand resident college and medical students to the city.

Fools_and_sages
360
Points
Fools_and_sages 09/15/12 - 10:13 pm
0
0
read what Rychly says
Unpublished

Riverman, read what Rychly says in the article about feeder community colleges. GRU will not have MORE remedial students a decade from now because they will be at Augusta Tech, Georgia Military, or East Georgia College in Swainsboro proving they can do college work and earning two year degrees. In simple terms, those students will no longer be at GRU. When Kenny discusses individualized remediation, she is referring to getting the remedial students currently at ASU to graduation in greater numbers. She is not implying that remediation will increase over the decades at GRU. Other schools that have gone R1 have taken 10 to 20 years to achieve that status. However, changes to R1 operations-- including admissions and remediation-- are implemented slowly within the first five to ten years. What takes the additional time is getting more graduate programs, more major programs, and the tenure-track full-time faculty in place to conduct the research programs that R1 schools are expected to have. I would imagine that younger faculty at ASU are looking forward to the changes and opportunities going R1 brings such as the chances to create new programs, build new departments, and work with higher achieving students. I would also imagine that some of the old guard (i.e. those who are about ten years to retirement) are chafing at the changes because they are firmly entrenched in a community that only accepts change on its terms. I think the community could egt over the naming issue if it would allow itself to see the forest for the trees. 12,000 students means dorms that they live in. That means all kinds of opportunities for entrepreneurs to build more restaurants, clubs, entertainment venues, bookstores, shopping centers, grocery stores, coffeehouses, arts venues, etc. in the areas where these dorms will be built. Maybe people should stop bellyaching and see the opportunities this presents for the community to experience some economic growth and clean up some areas that are eyesores.

Riverman1
90754
Points
Riverman1 09/16/12 - 05:57 am
0
0
Good points, Fools and Sages.

Good points, Fools and Sages.

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 09/16/12 - 09:38 am
1
0
This will never work...

1) Merging ASU and MCG is analogous to merging a dog and a pencil. There is absolutely nothing in common.

2) More students, more scholarships, more professors, more programs, more buildings... What do they have in common? Money. In case this new "interim" president hasn't noticed, we are in a recession. Can we say pipe dream?

3) Kenny wants to create a research university, but she failed to research the budget size before applying for this job. Huh? I'm shocked that it took her physically arriving in Augusta to be "shocked" at the budget.

Butterbean
245
Points
Butterbean 09/16/12 - 11:36 am
0
0
Mixed Messages?

OK. I now read where the INTERIM president is "worried" about the future funding and support from the University System Board of Regents with regards to making GRU a research 1 level institution. Isn't this the reason that the regents merged these two institutions to begin with? How long is the interim president going to be at Augusta State University? What will her assignment be at GRU after January 1, 2013 when Dr. Azziz becomes THE president? The interim president has pointed out that work loads are excessive for faculty at a research 1 institution. Work loads (teaching loads) are four 3-hr. classes at present each semester. This teaching load should be three 3-hr. classes per semester at a research 1 institution. Dr. Azziz has stated to the existing faculty that there will be no reduction in teaching loads.
What IS the plan for the future GRU? Research 1 or not? Regional University status or not? Some basic questions need to be addressed to this community to clarify just what was "sold" to us when this merger was presented to us. Surely others have seen these mixed messages from the existing president of GHSU, the interim president of ASU, and the future president of GRU.

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 09/16/12 - 12:35 pm
3
0
Only two options...

Once you put aside all of the spin and academic speak, there are only two options to make Azziz's dream research university a reality ...

1) Raise admissions standards significantly, or

2) Make the pool of students (AKA Richmond County) that ASU draws from truly "college ready." Dr. Bloodworth called it correctly a while back. Someone graduating with A's and B's from Richmond County shouldn't be failing out of remedial classes at ASU.

At the end of the day, this is the reality MCG and ASU faces.

palmetto1008
9782
Points
palmetto1008 09/16/12 - 01:43 pm
0
0
Butterbean, the consolidation
Unpublished

Butterbean, the consolidation was not "sold" to Augusta residents. It was a mandate as so was the new name..even though Augustinans were asked to provide input for the new name, I very much doubt that Augusta was a serious consideration by the BoR or Dr. Azziz from the very beginning.
And, the typical teachng load at a R1 school is 2/2, at some it's 1/1.
So, this will be huge investment by the state. Kenny says that the faculty will be thrilled by the move toward R1. I wonder what the faculty are saying in response to that?

Little Lamb
48010
Points
Little Lamb 09/16/12 - 01:45 pm
0
0
2012

Insider Information posted:

In case this new "interim" president hasn't noticed, we are in a recession.

If Obama gets re-elected, there will be four more years of downward spiral.

crkgrdn
2287
Points
crkgrdn 09/16/12 - 02:23 pm
0
0
We are besieged from the Left Coast and Northeast

Where is the money coming from?
Expect our taxes to go up for the "good" reasons.

palmetto1008
9782
Points
palmetto1008 09/16/12 - 02:54 pm
0
0
That's real good, crkgrb.
Unpublished

That's real good, crkgrb. Blame the "foreigners.". Exactly where are the members of the BoR from? You know, the ones who mandated the consolidation and the ones who were in charge of approving the new name and adopting the vision of GRU becoming R1. And, further, where is the governor from who appointed them??

Butterbean
245
Points
Butterbean 09/17/12 - 02:38 am
0
0
Palmetto clarification accepted...

Palmetto, you are correct. I was thinking regional university work loads. Thanks for pointing this out. Taking you observation one step further, this translates into twice the faculty that is in place now just to handle the teaching load. And also you are correct on the "not sold" part of my comment. I meant the "justification" for them attempting to "convince" us that it was a great idea.

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