University System of Georgia (USG) Chancellor Dr. Steve Wrigley was the guest speaker at the Douglas Rotary Club on Thursday, May 2, 2019, sharing news and updates from the System Office. South Georgia State College (SGSC) is one of the 26 public institutions of the USG under his leadership. SGSC President Dr. Ingrid Thompson-Sellers, along with several faculty and staff representatives, members from the Rotary, Lions and Exchange Clubs, Chambers of Commerce and other community members were in attendance at the luncheon.
Dr. Wrigley shared with the attendees that the System is in the knowledge business. They are focused on creating and transferring knowledge because knowledge is the key to innovation and innovation drives the economy. He stated, “There is a direct relationship between educational achievement and economic development.” This focus has led to the University System of Georgia’s main goals: to graduate more students, to make colleges and universities more affordable and to make them more efficient.
Initiatives are currently being put in place to address each of the goals. He stressed that graduating students is imperative to raising educational attainment. New approaches to remediation, such as offering remediation in the classroom and through tutoring, along with proactive student advising, is making a positive change in the success of students. Advisors at USG institutions are also encouraging students to take at least 15 credit hours per semester whenever possible, and they are devising pathways for students to follow to finish their degree in four years.
The Chancellor shared that the USG has been able to keep tuition down because of the investment of the state and the taxpayers. “We have only raised our tuition costs by 1.8% in the last five years,” stated Dr. Wrigley. “Research has shown our tuition costs are actually 25% less than peer states.” The USG is also tackling the high costs of textbooks by implementing programs across the state to make online text books and course materials free and more accessible. “This is creating a savings of approximately $9 million annually for students,” he explained.
Efficiency at the system level and within each institution is a high priority goal as well. The consolidations that began in 2011 brought the number of institutions from 35 down to 26 in the system. He described how this has caused changes that moved the focus on administration to student functions and student success. In addition, a Comprehensive Administrative Review (CAR) has been performed at the system level during this year; and as a result, all institutions have reviewed processes and identified ways to become more efficient.
In conclusion, Dr. Wrigley commended the Rotary Club for the presentation of a check at the onset of the meeting to the South Georgia State College Foundation to provide funds for students who fall short and are unable to pay tuition balances. The Rotary Club presented SGSC Foundation with a check for $2,000 as a part of the “Bridging the Gap for Student Support” campaign currently underway. He emphasized that this type of support is so important to the success of our students and he thanked them for being a part of it.
“As a fellow Rotarian and SGSC President, I am very honored that Chancellor Wrigley took time out of his busy schedule to visit with us in Douglas, Georgia,” said Dr. Ingrid Thompson-Sellers. “This is an indicator of the strength of his commitment to and support of what we do at the institutions.”