USG Chancellor Hank Huckaby Visits Dalton State Campus
University System of Georgia Chancellor Hank Huckaby met with administrators, faculty and students and also performed some ceremonial duties when he spent a recent afternoon at Dalton State College, his 33rd of 36 campus visits since taking office July 1.
He called it a “great day at Dalton State College” when he dedicated granite benches placed on the College quadrangle in honor of the four original land donors to the College. Chancellor Huckaby said that 50 years ago, when the state was deciding where to place a junior college in Northwest Georgia, it was the overwhelming community support of Whitfield County that tipped the scales in favor of Dalton. Part of that support was demonstrated by the contribution of 136 acres of land by the late Glen Bevil, Tom Lambert, Tom Swift, and John Tibbs. Family members of the four gentlemen were on hand for the ceremony.
After the dedication, Huckaby made a quick golf cart tour of the campus before meeting with campus groups. In addressing faculty, the Chancellor said that the University System of Georgia is one of the three or four largest university systems in the country, serving more than 320,000 students and employing more than 40,000 faculty and staff.
The Chancellor spent about an hour and a half responding to questions from faculty and then students, and made the following points:
The Chancellor said that, at his urging, the Governor appointed a statewide Commission to review the process of formula funding for the University System. “There doesn’t seem to be a lot of rhyme or reason to how funds have been allocated over the years,” he said, reminding the groups that formula funds in the amount of $177 million were requested of the legislature last year and $0 were funded. “We are cautiously optimistic about next year’s session,” he said, adding that the University System will request $102 million in funds.
“We can’t make corrections overnight,” he said. “We are aware and concerned (about inequities) and we want all to get their fair share.”
The problem with the formula, he said, is that it has been funded solely on the basis of full time equivalent students on campus. The formula has been basically unchanged since it was established in 1982. He indicated support for a performance-based budget such as Tennessee, Virginia, Ohio, and Texas have implemented. “We’ll look at those systems and take some of the best components from them.
“Our funding has been based solely on enrollment, the number of people coming in the front door. There’s been very little accountability and we’re reworking that now,” he said.
“We’re revising the formula, but how do we measure whether Dalton State is doing a good job or not? We know that graduation rates of first-time, full-time students is not it,” he said, acknowledging that Dalton State and Georgia Tech are very different institutions with different missions, serving different student populations.
He said that the Governor’s Commission is expected to report at the end of 2012 and that new recommendations for funding the formula could begin being implemented for the FY2014 budget year.
“Ours is a very large and complex system,” Chancellor Huckaby said. “If we can achieve efficiencies and savings on administration, then we can pump that back into academic programs,” he said, explaining his call to consider consolidation of some of the University System’s 36 institutions.
The Chancellor said that guidelines and principles that will guide thinking have been drafted and will be shared with the Board of Regents at its next meeting. Once they are adopted, he said, they will be used to identify “three, four, no more than five consolidation options” that will be presented mid-December to early January.
“There is no list at this point; the criteria will apply equally to all institutions,” he said. “Maybe it’s better to say that everybody is on the list.”
When pressed about Dalton State as a candidate for consolidation, he added that “Given your relative distance from other institutions, you’ll be on the list, but I don’t know that you’ll be very high up on the list.”
MBA Program/University Status
When asked about the possibility of Dalton State taking over the Master of Business Administration program that has been offered on campus by the Coles College of Business at Kennesaw State, the Chancellor said, “I’ve just learned about this, and I will address it directly with our Academic Affairs folks.
“Moving from bachelor’s programs to master’s degree programs is a big step, but there are some extenuating circumstances here … I will follow up and get an answer back to Dalton State,” he said.
He took the opportunity to explain that approval of new degree programs will be a more rigorous and comprehensive one with review of facility, academic and budgetary needs occurring simultaneously as opposed to separately as they have been in the past.
“We will have a much more integrated approach to granting new degree programs and facilities requests,” he said. “We will be looking at them very judiciously. There must be documented need. Is there sufficient faculty? What is the cost if you have to hire additional faculty? Do you have facilities for a new program? What happens if you reach capacity four or five or six years out?” he asked rhetorically.
When asked about the possibility of Dalton State ever offering PhD programs, the Chancellor commented that “It will be increasingly difficult to get approval for PhD programs. It will be a challenge to approve the MBA program; the best thing you’ve got going for you is that you already had a successful one and you have an AACSB-accredited School of Business.”
Raising Admission Standards and Articulation
“You cannot abandon your access mission,” the Chancellor said, “You will have to balance your mission with the new emphasis on retention, progression, and graduation,” he said when asked about raising admission criteria.
“The System’s new policy is that those students requiring remediation in three areas will not be admitted to a University System institution – they must go to another System for remediation,” Huckaby said.
“The University System has been criticized for the money it has spent to remediate high school graduates – too many of them want to go to college but are not ready to go to college. High schools want to increase their graduation rates, but the answer is not to dumb down standards,” he said. “The answer may be in identifying these students in the tenth and eleventh grade and remediating them then. I think we will see more students in the future taking their core classes in the Technical College System and then coming to us.”
He added that a plan for articulation will be presented to the Board of Regents next week before going to the TCSG board. He said that 10 courses have already been approved for articulation and there are “hundreds of agreements” between individual schools.
The Chancellor was asked about online and proprietary universities and their prolific advertising and marketing efforts, and conceded that “We have got to do a better job of telling our story.
“We offer a tremendous value and we are critical to the future of our state; we don’t just want to be defensive – we have to be more proactive in getting our good message out.”
When asked about Dalton State’s plan to build more residential housing, the Chancellor explained that “The University System does not provide funding for housing” and that the construction of additional housing units will have to be accomplished as a Public Private Venture (PPV) project. “With all the classrooms, laboratories, and libraries that have to be built, we realized we’d never have enough to fund housing, dining halls, and parking garages,” he said. As with other projects, need for housing has to be documented as well as the financing structure and cost determined that students will actually be able to pay.
Of the state-imposed institutional fee that was due to roll off next year, the Chancellor said, “I’d be very surprised if the institutional student fee is discontinued. It may be adjusted down, I don’t know, but I think it will be in place in some form for awhile.”The Chancellor heard presentations from several students on topics including service learning projects and leadership development initiatives. Later in the evening, he attended the Dalton State Foundation’s annual Scholarship Dinner for scholarship recipients and donors.