Building a Roadmap to Our Future

I have mentioned some of the upcoming and ongoing work at Dalton State College in recent columns. For example, we have been working with consultants on our branding and have received a lengthy report from an outside team offering suggestions for our student services. We have re-activated a committee formerly known as the Retention Committee, now named the Student Success Committee. This committee met once this fall and will begin its work in earnest this month to examine ways we can increase the likelihood of success for students who enroll at the College.

Additionally, we kicked off our Strategic Planning conversations in December with focus groups led by Dr. Stephen Portch, chancellor emeritus of the University System of Georgia. This month, we will launch the work of the Strategic Planning Committee on Tuesday, Jan. 26, with a retreat led by Portch, building on the work of the earlier conversations. The committee will be chaired by a seasoned and admired member of our faculty, Dr. Michael Hoff. The committee will prepare our institutional Strategic Plan for the next three years along with an updated vision statement.

Throughout the strategic planning process, there will be opportunities to review the work of the committee and provide input and feedback. In addition to our internal constituents, we will engage our external stakeholders in providing insights on this important work. Watch for information about how to access the work of the committee and share your ideas for helping push Dalton State College forward to becoming a first choice, destination college. I anticipate a strategic plan that is focused on three to five key themes. This will not be a top-down plan, handed down from the president. This will be an organic process that comes from those who care so much about this college and community, led by the committee but inclusive of the greater community. The president and vice presidents are non-voting members of the committee. Each of us who cares about the College has a voice if we choose to use it.

Finally, we have formed a committee that will begin planning both the installation of our fifth president and a number of celebratory activities for the year leading up to Dalton State’s 50th anniversary in fall of 2017. The Presidential Inauguration will be held on Friday, Oct. 21, 2016, so mark your calendars now! We will promote all of the anniversary and inauguration activities as plans develop.

All of this work is in the context of multiple construction projects too. We opened our new science building, Peeples Hall, in 2014. We are putting the finishing touches on the renovation and repurposing of what is now our Health Professions Building. We have begun renovations on our Pope Student Center. The new four-story residence hall, Mashburn Hall, is looming high on the landscape of campus and will open in August of 2016. We will seek funding to renovate and expand the building that houses our School of Business, the only AACSB-accredited (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business) School of Business in the state college sector of the University System of Georgia.

I arrived in Dalton just a year ago this month. I said when I arrived that despite my interim title we could not afford to be complacent, to sit and wait for the “real” president to arrive. Nevertheless, every decision I made, I made with a future permanent president in mind. Would this be something someone else would want to undo? Would this be something that would be helpful in preparing the College for the next president? We have been very busy this past year and I am grateful for the work that is behind us as I look at the work that lies ahead of us in the next year. Dalton State College is in great shape. But it is in such good condition because we did not stop working toward our goals of being better – of being the best, actually. I hope you will visit the campus and see for yourself what a quality institution Dalton State College is these days. Thank you for your support for this College. We exist to serve the needs of this community and region. We are successful, however, because of the support of this community.