The following reflects the background and philosophy that gave rise to GGC's first Strategic Plan.
Georgia Gwinnett College (GGC) has a unique opportunity, and responsibility, to plan a new four year college, the first in the U.S. this century, and the first in Georgia since the 1970s, from the very beginning.
GGC was established and authorized as the newest four-year college in the University System of Georgia (USG) on March 15, 2005 by the State of Georgia to help USG accomplish its vision to, “Create a more educated Georgia, well prepared for a global, technological society . . . “
GGC will address the higher education needs of the rapidly growing population in and surrounding Gwinnett County. Gwinnett County is the fastest growing county in Georgia and will be the largest county in the state by 2010. The county’s population will exceed 1,000,000 by 2015. More students from Gwinnett County are enrolled in USG institutions than from any other county. The county is the largest county east of the Mississippi without a four-year college.
GGC is being created as a model of what a 21st century college should be as suggested by research and best practices in higher education. In creating GGC, we have carefully considered changes that are impacting and will impact our students, higher education, and our society. We have considering important trends from analyses including the recently published Spellings Report. These trends include:
- Globalization – graduates will be entering an interconnected and complex world that will present difficulties and opportunities that cannot be ignored by our educated citizens. Competition will be fierce, knowledge will be key, innovation and creativity will be essential, change will be relentless.
- Pervasive and rapidly changing technology that reduces the importance of “place” and access to information and increases the importance of the ability to judge and quickly use information. The speed of change of technology will require students, faculty and administrations to be comfortable with on-going adaptation to new technologies. Technology will also enable colleges to develop new and more effective approaches to education.
- Higher education is being asked to step up to the plate more, and help solidify the country’s capabilities. More students need access to higher education. Students will need to learn applied skills such as critical thinking and problem solving as much as basic skills. Higher education institutions will be required to be more accountable in delivering meaningful outcomes. Higher educational institutions will need to provide both academic training as well as skills that will help students succeed and become leaders in their chosen fields of work. Baccalaureate degrees will be an entry fee for many of the jobs in the future with ninety percent of the fastest growing service and information jobs requiring post-secondary education. Over five million new jobs are projected in healthcare, education, computer and the mathematical sciences through 2015.
- Students will be different. Increased access will result in a broader range of capabilities and preparation. Changing population patterns including more students of diversity and more students for whom English is not the first language will create challenges. Lack of preparation in secondary schools is a frequent complaint about students entering college, and this will create tension and additional curricula needs. The increase in non-traditional students, many of whom have very different needs and obstacles, will require increased flexibility. Specifically within Gwinnett County, public school enrollment has changed from being. 80% white in 1996 to only 42% white in 2006. One if five speaks a foreign language in their home.
We have worked with SACS, our regional accrediting body, to understand the criteria that have been established to ensure an institution is on sound footing. We have worked with the University System of Georgia to understand its strategic plan and how GGC can best support that plan. In working with USG we have learned about the experience, support and assets USG can provide GGC. And, we have taken into account the particular needs of the community and the surrounding area from which the majority of students will come.
The planning process has been thorough, inclusive, thoughtful, creative and continuous. Plans have been developed over the course of six months of active participation of all administrators and faculty, and with student input. Assessment plans have been developed in conjunction with the overall plans, enabling GGC to gear up for relevant assessments from day one.
A 21st century college should not merely be a college that was established in the 21st century. To be a 21st century college, GGC needs to break new ground while at the same time maintaining many of the positive aspects of existing colleges and universities. It is rare that a college has the chance to take the “best of the old” while at the same time design methods and structures that are specific to new needs and opportunities. GGC should be, and will be, a different kind of college.
Our hiring practices exemplify how GGC will be a different kind of college. GGC has recruited very competent faculty and staff who “buy into” the opportunity to create something new and important, as evidenced by many giving up their tenure at their last institution for non-tenure positions at GGC. We have worked with, and will continue to work with, our faculty and staff to help overcome some of the inertia and inefficiencies/ineffectiveness of doing things that we have unavoidably brought with us based on our past experiences.
GGC’s strategic plan is aggressive but realistic. We anticipate between 2,500 and 3,000 students in Fall 2007, and plan to grow to 8,000 to 10,000 undergraduate students within only four or five years. We have begun substantial building projects to support this growth. By working with the USG system and State government, we have helped them understand Georgia’s critical need for GGC and have secured financial support during our initial enrollment building years.
GGC’s strategic plan very much supports USG’s overall goals and mission. USG’s published goals to “ensure access to academic excellence and educational opportunities for all Georgians” are:
- Educate graduates who are intellectually and ethically informed individuals with well-defined skills and knowledge who are capable leaders, creative thinkers, and contributing citizens.
- Expand participation by increasing access, enhancing diversity, improving service to nontraditional students, expanding use of distance education, advancing public library usage, and marketing the advantages of post-secondary education.
- Increase academic productivity through improved recruitment, increased retention, accelerated graduation, expanded credit generation, augmented continuing education opportunities, and current technology.
- Emphasize the recruitment, hiring, and retention of the best possible faculty, staff, and administration.
- Help accelerate Georgia's economic development by providing needed graduates, offering appropriate academic programs, and marketing the System and its institutions as economic assets of the state.
- Seek the most efficient, effective, and technologically sound business and service best practices, and regularly compare ourselves to national peers.
- Provide and maintain superior facilities, funded by innovative mechanisms that shorten the time that elapses between approval and use.
- Ensure coordination, where appropriate, between University System of Georgia policy and practices and those of the Department of Education (DOE) and the Department of Technical and Adult Education (DTAE).
- Increase, diversify, and strategically allocate resources.
Read GGC's inaugural Strategic Plan.