University of Georgia President Jere Morehead gave his annual State of the University Address on Jan. 29 in the Chapel on North Campus and detailed his five year strategic plan.
Morehead said a committee worked over the past year to develop three points of emphasis: promoting excellence in teaching and learning; growing research, innovation and entrepreneurship; and strengthening partnerships with communities across Georgia and around the world.
To promote teaching and learning, Morehead wants to expand experiential learning opportunities for students while also supporting instructors by modernizing classrooms and laboratories.
“We must ensure that as the teaching methods of our faculty evolve, so do the spaces and technologies that support them,” Morehead said.
Morehead said Victor Wilson, UGA vice president for student affairs, will work with the University Health Center to lead new mental health initiatives on campus.
The university will introduce online therapeutic support to further expand part of the center’s existing mission of mental health care. The other initiative will enhance UHC’s outreach efforts with wellness coaching and peer mentoring programs implemented over the course of this calendar year.
“College students today are much more attuned to their personal well-being, including issues of mental health,” Morehead said. “Our strategic plan recognizes this reality and seeks to expand wellness programs and services available to our students to support this goal.”
For the second area of emphasis, he said the research “will demand interdisciplinary and multi-institutional approaches.” Morehead added that UGA’s greatest strength concerning research are its $6.3 billion impact on the state of Georgia and its ability to cover different subjects across campus.
Morehead said he wants to promote collaboration among different units and organizations to help further research efforts while also focusing on a “diverse and inclusive educational environment.”
The third and final area of emphasis seeks to create more global partnerships, projects and study abroad programs. Morehead referred to places UGA students can study beyond Athens, from Washington, D.C. to Cortona, Italy to Oxford, England. Morehead said he wants to create more opportunities for “students to engage” in the future.
To reach the goal of stronger partnerships, the strategic plan seeks to increase UGA’s role in economic development of underserved communities in Georgia with help from the Small Business Development Center.
Morehead also highlighted achievements over the past year, including the newest freshman class, which was chosen from the “largest pool of applicants ever,” and the high percentage of class of 2017 graduates who had a job or were attending graduate school within six months of graduation. He discussed the “Commit to Georgia” fundraising campaign, which asked UGA alumni for donations to remove financial barriers for students to enhance the learning environment on campus.
According to Morehead, the campaign’s benefactors “have responded with unprecedented support, creating over 500 endowed scholarships, totaling a commitment of more than $77 million to help students from low-income backgrounds earn a degree” among other academic and infrastructure benefits.
“The State of the University of Georgia is strong and growing stronger,” Morehead said. “Our future is bright and boundless.”