Houston & Peach

Georgia university system chancellor talks dollars during grant seminar

FORT VALLEY — Despite budget cuts this year, the University System of Georgia has a responsibility to provide quality education to the state’s college students, said Chancellor Erroll Davis during a luncheon at the fifth annual Grantsmanship Institute Training Conference Monday at Fort Valley State University.

Representatives from government agencies, educational institutions and nonprofits gathered for a daylong series of seminars on grant writing strategies. Attendees received packets that contained previously approved grants, a list of grant terminology and a list of agencies that offer grants.

While state institutions such as the University System of Georgia, which saw a net decrease of 5.5 percent from last year’s budget, face economic strains, they are not able to rely on the same options as the private sector.

“We can’t adjust the work force to meet revenue demands,” Davis said of the publicly funded services.

“We do not have reduced demand. We have exploding demand.”

The University System of Georgia oversees 35 institutions and 40,000 staff, serving 283,000 students last year, according to Davis. Of the system’s $6 billion annual budget, $2.1 billion comes from the state, making up about 38 percent of the funds.

Other funding sources include tuition, as well as joint public and private funds, including grants.

“Education is a trial by fire, but it’s a worthwhile trial by fire,” Davis said.

Melody L. Carter, vice president for external affairs and executive director of the FVSU Foundation Inc., said the university holds the conference every year to help other organizations obtain grant dollars.

One of the most common challenges in grant writing is creating an objective statement with measurable and defined goals, Carter said.

“We wanted to educate the campus, as well as the extended community, on the technical steps for researching and writing proposals that result in grant awards,” she said.

Carter said Fort Valley State received about $30 million in grant money last year, primarily from the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Education and the National Science Foundation.

In addition to Davis’ keynote speech, Macon Mayor Robert Reichert and representatives from the city of Macon were invited to give a presentation about the College Hill Corridor Commission, a joint effort between the city and Mercer University to develop an attractive and defined corridor between the school and downtown Macon.

“It was another great opportunity to share with another group what we did with Mercer University and city of Macon,” said Andrew Blascovich, director of external affairs for the City of Macon.

Tracy Marshall, coordinator for Office of Diversity and International Affairs at Fort Valley State, said she attended the conference to learn how to write grants to expand funding for the school’s study abroad programs and to bring more exchange students.

She already has requested $1 million from Rep. Sanford Bishop’s office.

Marshall said it was reassuring to learn that even institutions as large as the University System of Georgia also depend on grants.

“There needs to be collaborative efforts and teamwork in these times,” she said.