Education

University System chancellor addresses Rotary Club

Hank Huckaby, chancellor of the University System of Georgia, addresses the Macon Downtown Rotary Club Dec. 3, 2014.
Hank Huckaby, chancellor of the University System of Georgia, addresses the Macon Downtown Rotary Club Dec. 3, 2014. jtimmerman@macon.com

More than a million Georgians have started college without finishing, and Hank Huckaby wants to do something about it.

Huckaby, chancellor of the University System of Georgia, talked to members of the Downtown Macon Rotary Club on Wednesday. The running theme was the University System’s efforts to operate under the “new norm” in modern education.

“We know we can’t continue to do things the way we always have,” Huckaby said.

One of the major programs he discussed was the “Go Back, Move Ahead” initiative aimed at getting adults to go back to school.

Huckaby said an estimated 42 percent of the state’s adult population has a college degree. To remain competitive in a job market where more and more positions require a degree, Huckaby said studies out of Georgetown University have shown that number needs to reach 60 percent.

“We think we can do that, but it’s not going to be done without a great deal of effort and attention from all our institutions,” he said.

The Downtown Rotary Club’s president-elect, Patrick Goff, led the gathering, and he said the group’s role in the process would be one of support.

“Truthfully, reaching out to the leaders in the community that can support the initiatives he was talking about,” Goff said.

Huckaby said estimates have shown that nearly 1.2 million Georgians have picked up college credits, but they have not completed a degree. That’s the group that the initiative is specifically targeting.

“We’ve got to convince and support those students to come back and finish that education,” Huckaby said.

The initiative includes personal advisers, more online class options, an increased focus on transfer credits and a simplified enrollment process. That fourth facet, the process of even getting into college, has been part of an “intimidation factor” often present for anyone enrolling in college. (For more information, go to: gobackmoveahead.org).

“We’re sometimes our own worst enemy,” he said.

Locally, Middle Georgia State College, Central Georgia Technical College, Fort Valley State University and Georgia College and State University are all part of the initiative, which is a portion of a broader Complete College Georgia movement. Huckaby also pointed to partnerships with private institutions like Mercer University.

Middle Georgia State’s president, Christopher Blake, said he was glad to be involved.

“A place like Middle Georgia State really needs to be able to provide a student-friendly schedule for going back,” he said.

Middle Georgia State itself was also a topic of discussion. A product of the University System’s recent consolidation efforts -- the new college combined Macon State and Middle Georgia colleges -- Middle Georgia State is working toward becoming a university.

“We want it to be a university, not just in name but in reality,” Huckaby said of the process.

Blake said that he thinks the college is in a “very, very exciting” time. The consolidation process is in the rearview mirror, and university status is in the future.

“We have become a single institution,” said Blake, who has been at the college’s helm for about a year. “I can tell you in that year, we have really become united.”

To contact writer Jeremy Timmerman, call 744-4331.

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