System chancellor seeks efficiency

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ATLANTA - Georgia's colleges and universities have to find a more efficient way of educating students, Chancellor Erroll Davis said in his first State of the System address since taking over as head of the University System of Georgia last year.

Mr. Davis' drive for efficiency comes as the system's enrollment is booming and the state's colleges and universities have coped with state funding that has fallen short of what was expected over the past several years.

The system has still received annual increases for growth in enrollment, with state funding for the system going from $1.5 billion in the 2001-02 budget year to $1.9 billion in 2006-07.

Meanwhile, enrollment has ballooned to nearly 260,000, an increase of almost 60,000 students since 1998, Mr. Davis said.

"Being efficient must not only be seen as the correct or right thing to do in the eyes of true believers," Mr. Davis said. "It also must be seen as being in everyone's self-interest as well. ... The simple reality is that today, in our system, it is not clear at all that operating with fewer resources is seen as being in anyone's self-interest."

Mr. Davis didn't lay out any specifics in his speech, though he did say that "significant structural changes" were likely. His remarks were centered on the administrative side, rather than the classroom.

Talking to reporters after the meeting, Mr. Davis backed away from any suggestion that funding was being wasted.

"I certainly don't want to stand here and say that we're wasting taxpayers' money," he said. "I believe that we can do more things than we're doing with the money that we're anticipating."

Mr. Davis goes before the Legislature's budget-writing committees today to talk about the university system's proposed budget for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1.

Reach Brandon Larrabee at (678) 977-3709 or brandon.larrabee@morris.com.


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