A Vision for Georgia Gwinnett College

In the past few weeks since I had the honor of being selected president of the new state college in Gwinnett County, I have had numerous conversations with people who asked about my vision for the future of the new college. Having grown up in Georgia, I have long been impressed with the University System of Georgia’s commitment to the development of the whole person, with explicit emphasis on teaching, scholarship, and a commitment to life-long learning. Clearly the education in all of Georgia’s publicly funded colleges and universities is designed to develop versatile, creative, and critical thinkers who can adapt to the intellectual, professional, and ethical challenges that will confront them throughout their lives. Developing creative, adaptive, intellectually agile students has never been more important than it is today. The challenges of living in a global community require men and women of character who can anticipate and respond effectively to an uncertain and changing world. Education is a critical aspect of achieving that goal. I am confident that the new college in Gwinnett will play an integral role in educating talented men and women and inspiring them to careers as leaders in business, academe, and public service.

By Dr. Daniel J. Kaufman, President

In the past few weeks since I had the honor of being selected president of the new state college in Gwinnett County, I have had numerous conversations with people who asked about my vision for the future of the new college. Having grown up in Georgia, I have long been impressed with the University System of Georgia’s commitment to the development of the whole person, with explicit emphasis on teaching, scholarship, and a commitment to life-long learning. Clearly the education in all of Georgia’s publicly funded colleges and universities is designed to develop versatile, creative, and critical thinkers who can adapt to the intellectual, professional, and ethical challenges that will confront them throughout their lives. Developing creative, adaptive, intellectually agile students has never been more important than it is today. The challenges of living in a global community require men and women of character who can anticipate and respond effectively to an uncertain and changing world. Education is a critical aspect of achieving that goal. I am confident that the new college in Gwinnett will play an integral role in educating talented men and women and inspiring them to careers as leaders in business, academe, and public service.

How will we proceed toward achieving this vision? From the outset, we will work hard to insure that our academic programs effectively educate students to meet the workforce needs of the region. The key to success here is the development of a shared set of objectives, a task that will involve representatives of the college working with community leaders to address specific needs and to acquire resources necessary to accomplish the institution’s objectives.

Therefore, the first order of business is to determine the programs we will create both to meet the core academic needs of the University System of Georgia and to address the workplace needs of the regional job market. While the specifics of the individual degree programs will be developed in the coming year, I believe we will move quickly in four general areas that are important to meeting the needs of region and the state: teacher education for both early childhood and secondary schools, information systems experts, business managers, and health system employees. Beyond these four areas it is simply premature to make any credible predictions. We will continue to work with the Board of Regents and with community leaders as we constantly assess the changing needs for the growth and higher educational requirements of Gwinnett County and the region.

One of the most exciting prospects about the new college is that we are in an enviable position few institutions of higher learning ever experience. We are starting with a blank slate as far as the design and implementation of the operating systems of the college are concerned. Consequently, we have the opportunity not only to create a more efficient institutional design, but also a new learning experience. Many of our internal operations, such as human resources, accounting, and student financial aid may well be outsourced to other institutions or to the private sector as we build what is truly the college for the 21st Century, thus saving taxpayer dollars and instituting what we hope to be the model for modern college administration and operation.

Equally important, we have a wonderful opportunity to exploit the confluence of technology, learning, and student success. The hallmark of the new college in Gwinnett will be innovation and creativity, particularly in the use of educational technology. We will offer traditional classroom courses to be sure; but we also will develop an exciting blend of “hybrid” courses and on-line learning experiences whereby students will learn at home, in the classroom, and in the office using the Web and enhanced classroom solutions. All of our facilities will feature innovative, advanced “smart” classrooms where student learning is facilitated by technology, and our dedicated teaching faculty will be knowledgeable in the use of educational and information technology. In essence, no matter where the student happens to be in Gwinnett County, the region, the state, or around the world, learning can take place via a seamless extension of the classroom available at any time using educational and information technology platforms.

These thoughts reflect my vision for the future of this remarkable new state college in Gwinnett. All of us associated with the new college owe a great deal of thanks to a forward thinking Board of Regents, our state legislators and statewide elected officials, and most of all to a vibrant community that expressed its overwhelming and continuous support for this institution of higher education. I am absolutely confident that by continuing to work together we can make the new college all that we want it to be—one that combines technology and learning to make student success exciting and productive, and one of which the citizens of Gwinnett and all of Georgia can be justifiably proud.

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