Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Higher education is critical to Georgia’s economic prosperity and the success of individuals, and so the public rightfully has high expectations of the University System of Georgia (USG), said Chancellor Hank Huckaby in his first report to the System’s governing Board of Regents.
“Our efforts are essential to creating a more highly educated Georgia,” Huckaby said. “Our success will be a major determinant in Georgia’s success in becoming a global economic leader.”
He said that Georgians must have faith in the University System to “deliver a world-class graduate, equipped with the knowledge and even more critically, the values, needed to be successful in a very competitive and global world.”
Huckaby outlined three broad areas of focus as chancellor: performance, partnerships, and advocacy for the true value of higher education.
In the area of performance, Huckaby promised that everything the University System undertakes, from academic programs to buildings, is going to receive a higher level of scrutiny. “No longer will higher education be immune from answering questions of effectiveness and efficiency,” he said. As chancellor, more questions will be asked about academic programs to ensure they mesh from a System viewpoint and construction projects to optimize the use of scarce resources.
A key shift of focus related to performance will be from growth to results. Huckaby said the focus would intensify in the System on improving the retention, progression and graduation of more students.
Increasing Georgia’s postsecondary attainment levels also is dependent upon how well Georgia’s educational agencies work together, Huckaby said, his second area of focus. “We do not pursue this great goal alone,” he said.
The System’s upcoming work with the Technical College System of Georgia to ensure students can move easily between the two systems and his service on the Governor’s State Education Finance Study Commission that is reviewing K-12 funding were both cited by the chancellor as examples of the type of partnerships needed to improve educational outcomes. “The future success of our system is inextricably linked to the success of K-12 education,” Huckaby said.
“We must all work together to identify and champion what is best for the citizens, not what may be perceived to be in the narrow and parochial interests of a particular agency or institution,” Huckaby said.
While Huckaby listed the continuous advocacy for the true value of higher education as his third area of focus, the chancellor clearly placed this very high on his priorities for the System.
“Economists, authors and economic development professionals continue to cite higher education as a necessary and critical key to a sustainable and vibrant economy,” Huckaby said, a key rationale for Georgia’s history of investing in public higher education. “This investment enables the University System of Georgia to create Georgia’s future, student by student, achievement by achievement.”
Huckaby said that more can and will be done by the System to spur the state’s economic recovery, again citing the need for stronger partnerships with other state agencies charged with economic development.
Beyond the economic value of higher education, Huckaby said it is critical that the public recognize the role of higher education goes beyond just preparing someone for that first job. “Of equal value is the role of college in shaping someone to live a productive life, no matter what the career path he or she chooses,” he said.
Huckaby closed his comments on an upbeat note. “The unquestioned academic strength of our system gives me positive reason to be optimistic,” he said. “Our responsibility and great privilege is to work together to take a great system and make it even better. That is a challenge that I and my colleagues throughout the system eagerly embrace.”
The full text of Chancellor Huckaby’s remarks can be accessed at