Two popular institutions of higher learning in the Southern Crescent are taking part in an effort to bridge the gap between the number of Georgians who have college degrees and the number that officials believe will be necessary to meet the state’s workforce needs in 2020.
The institutions — Gordon College in Barnesville and Clayton State University in Morrow — have hefty Henry County student populations, and are among the 35 institutions in the University System of Georgia that will receive a share of $72.5 million in new funds to strengthen programs serving the University System’s nearly 320,000 students, according to officials.
The state’s public colleges and universities are taking up the challenge through the state’s Complete College Georgia Initiative, which seeks to further college completion rates, increase job market credentials, and close the college attainment gaps for underrepresented populations.
The Georgia General Assembly is fully funding the University System’s enrollment formula as part of the state’s Higher Education Completion Plan 2012, according to university and college officials.
They said the initiative is designed to close the 18-percent gap between the state’s current population of college degree-holding workers and the number of degree-holders believed to be necessary for the state’s future workforce.
Gordon College plans to use its $940,000 share of funds to address a laundry list of priorities, which include adding faculty (advisors and classroom instructors), a testing center, and other student-support initiatives.
The college anticipates adding a staff position for distance learning, two academic advisor positions, and nine faculty and support positions to reduce the dependence on part-time faculty as it implements new majors.
“While these new hires will help Gordon develop new curricular areas as well, they will primarily support the retention and progression goals of the Complete College Georgia initiative,” said Ed Wheeler, Gordon College vice president of academic affairs.
Gordon also plans to launch a Center for Teaching and Learning this coming year, according to Tamara Boatwright, public information specialist.
Boatwright said the goal behind introducing the center is to provide faculty support for experimenting with new course designs.
“The single most important dynamic at Gordon College is the desire to provide excellent teaching and learning environments for students,” said Boatwright, noting the college has a growing contingent of adult and part-time students.
At Clayton State, $636,200 in funding is planned to help with college completion efforts of its students. The university has specifically earmarked $473,200 for seven new faculty positions; $118,000 for three staff positions to enhance student services, which include a financial aid counselor, an academic advisor, and a position in the Registrar’s Office; and $45,000 for a development officer.
“Our requests for funding were based upon strategic needs and upon overwhelming demand on our resources,” said Clayton State Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Micheal Crafton.
Crafton noted that Clayton State’s primary strategic priority in academic affairs is health education, which includes nursing, dental hygiene, health care management, psychology and courses and majors that feed those health care majors.
Clayton State has also received $250,000 funding for the Complete College Georgia Plan — funds that will be used to hire a data analyst and to provide support for so-called bottleneck academic areas, like math and English, that have tended to lengthen a student’s time working towards their degrees.
The efforts will come under the direction of Mark Daddona, associate vice president for Enrollment Management & Academic Success, whose office overseas Clayton State’s First Year Advising & Retention Center (FYARC).
“Our Complete College Georgia Team is currently finalizing the Clayton State plan which will include a detailed budget developed to support the institution’s goals, objectives, and strategies,” said Daddona.
To learn more about Clayton State University or Gordon College, visit www.clayton.edu, or www.gdn.edu.