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Starting the new academic year

The beginning of an academic year is a great time to review where our university is – and where we are headed.  This is especially true in Fall 2012, when we have so many new members of the university community joining us.

In this note, I’d like to focus on the future – and my vision for what this university will become.  Although the timeframe may be flexible, the target year of 2020 makes sense to me, based on multiple efforts currently underway.

In that future, Southern Polytechnic State University will be a comprehensive university with a special-purpose mission that emphasizes science, engineering, technology, and design.  We will value, recognize, and reward excellent teaching.  We will be known for collaborative research that engages both undergraduate and graduate students with faculty members who are applying knowledge to solve real-world problems.  We will be closely connected with the local and regional community that we serve.

We aspire to be the best in the world at graduating students who seek creative, practical, and sustainable solutions to the problems confronting society today.  SPSU will be a first-choice institution for students who will be successful in the programs we offer.  Our graduates will have the skills needed to be immediately employable and to contribute to the local and regional economy.  And, just as SPSU will be the first choice for students who enroll here, SPSU graduates will be the first choices for employers to hire.  We will continue to build on the strong relationships that the university has with business and industry, reminding the business world of the value we offer and remembering that this institution was founded at the request of industry.

We will have a campus that is safe, clean, well landscaped, and well cared for, inside and out.  SPSU will be the national model for how to renovate, remodel, and reinvent space so that it supports teaching, scholarship, student life, student services, and the physical and technological infrastructure that supports a powerful learning environment.  However, we can’t meet our enrollment goal of 8,000 students in 2020 through renovations alone, and we will need new facilities, housing, parking, and people to support that enrollment.

SPSU will meet the challenge of doing our part to address the state’s goal of increasing the number of Georgians with college credentials, steadily increasing the number of graduates with SPSU degrees as we move toward the target date of 2020. 

We will develop a robust endowment that can support the university’s funding needs – beyond state allocations – to provide student scholarships and create a margin of excellence in the academic and support programs.

In all of these actions, we will have a strong set of values that we share, as a community, and that guide our daily operations and interactions.

I can’t imagine a more amazing opportunity than to work with the SPSU community to help make this vision a reality.  Happy new academic year!