UWG Enthusiastic About Plans to Help More Georgians Earn a Degree

Friday, September 28, 2012

In a recently released plan, the University of West Georgia outlined its strategy to support Complete College Georgia (CCG) – Gov. Nathan Deal’s statewide initiative to substantially increase the numbers of Georgians earning a degree by 2020.

The CCG-UWG plan highlights 18 strategic efforts under key objectives: strengthening K-12 partnerships, serving populations such as adult learners, shortening the time (or credits) it takes to earn a degree and improving how students are taught.

UWG’s plan builds on efforts already underway to enhance student success and improve degree completion.

“The committee identified three things that we are doing well and will capitalize on to meet our goals,” said Dr. Beheruz N. Sethna, president of UWG. “First, we maintain an effective, collaborative relationship between our Academic Affairs and Student Affairs divisions to increase student retention and graduation rates. Second, UWG continues to provide top notch online and distance education where, for example, students can take their first two years of core curriculum classes online through eCore® or take one of our 100 percent online degree programs. Third, we’ve maintained an unwavering focus on fostering undergraduate student success by investing in best practices like our First Year Experiences program.”

“We are starting to see good results already, though we have a distance to go to meet our goals,” said Sethna.

Dr. Myrna Gantner, associate vice president for academic affairs and associate professor of educational leadership, shared some examples of how UWG is currently helping students and what is to come.

“UWG’s outstanding reputation for quality online programming continues to help students achieve their dreams,” said Gantner. “At West Georgia, students can earn a bachelor’s degree in criminology completely online. More online bachelor’s degrees, which will mirror UWG’s excellent on-campus programs, are under development. Plus, students can take the first two years of college completely online through eCore® classes.”

UWG understands that institutional support is very important for the online student to achieve success.

“Our UWG|Online Student Support Team works with online students to make sure they understand how to navigate their online courses, use the technology and enhance their organizational skills to make them effective learners in the online environment,” said Gantner. “Our new Early Alert – Early Intervention initiative gives faculty an efficient way to identify non-engaged students and refer them to intervention specialists for help.”

UWG has also increased the number of sections for high-demand courses to help students progress more quickly toward graduation. Its new Summer Transition program helps new freshmen adjust to the rigors of college academics and will be required next year for select students. Many more initiatives are underway, which are based on recommendations from UWG faculty-staff teams who continue to examine data, existing institutional policies and best practices in higher education.

“A plan is only as good as its implementation,” said Gantner. “That’s why, at the University of West Georgia, we have checkpoints and tools in place to monitor and measure our progress. For example, this year our department heads will provide data explaining how their units are contributing to the CCG-UWG Plan goals, so when red flags are raised, we can immediately take steps to make mid-stream corrections. That is a small taste of the many strategies our faculty and staff have embraced to help our students earn their degrees in a timely manner.”

What does all this mean for Georgians?

“In essence, the CCG-UWG Plan seeks ways to continue providing a quality education to a broader spectrum of students in a manner and timeline reflective of the demands of today’s lifestyles that leverage technological advancements,” said Sethna. “We encourage anyone considering starting a degree or who needs to complete a degree to see what the University of West Georgia has to offer. Earning a degree is a partnership that requires your commitment and effort and ours; we are here to support you from admissions through graduation and beyond.”

To learn more about the programs referenced or financial aid, please visit the University of West Georgia’s website or contact 678-839-4000.