President Michael F. Adams on the State of the University
On Jan. 26, 2012, UGA President Michael F. Adams presented his 15th annual State of the University speech. In it, he cited five things that must happen for UGA to remain strong and contribute to the success of the state.
“First, the (state funding) formula must be funded fully and fairly. While I am sympathetic to the legislature in its efforts to prioritize the allocation of scarce resources, another year without funding the formula will do significant damage to UGA and the [University System of Georgia] as a whole. We owe the governor another round of thanks for including the system’s formula funding request in its full amount in his budget proposal. I assure you that we will play strong defense to protect that effort throughout the legislative session. When the increase in the formula was not funded at all last year, it meant the loss of some $15 million at UGA. That pattern is clearly not sustainable.”
“We must—absolutely must—have help on faculty and staff salaries. I have made the case in Atlanta to the point that some members of the Legislature turn away when they see me coming—but I chase them down! They need to know that we have lost ground to our peer institutions, our aspirational institutions and our competitors, both domestic and global. And when UGA loses ground, Georgia loses ground, and none of us can afford that. One of the strongest statements of the commitment of UGA’s faculty and staff to the mission of this place is the continued high level of productivity despite the recession, despite the lack of a salary increase pool, despite the increased work load as a result of unfilled positions. I am deeply grateful for that.”
“Third, as successful as we have been, we need yet more help from our alumni—now 280,000 strong, with thousands added each year—and friends. Our most pressing need is a significant infusion of current and endowed funds to support faculty positions, with an equal commitment to student scholarships and fellowships. I am proud that over the past 15 years we have moved from 92 endowed positions to 219, but that is not enough. In fact, we could use twice that many. The number of student aid applications we receive has increased 34 percent in the past five years, with two-thirds of that growth occurring in the past two years. UGA families are hurting, and we need help in helping them achieve the dream of a University of Georgia education.”
“Fourth, we must remain diligent in self-examination. While a flagship should provide the broadest curriculum in the state—the full symphony—we do not fulfill our obligation to the state if we do not ask the necessary, and often difficult, questions about what we do and how we do it. Those questions should include but are not limited to enrollment and admissions; placement of students; the quality and qualities of the student body; student satisfaction; scholarly production; teaching effectiveness and proficiency; meaningful service to the state; and research productivity. That is what mature, confident institutions do.”
“Finally, we must remain true to our roots and to our heritage as the first state-chartered university in America. Out-of-state and international students will always be welcome and will always be an important part of the UGA family. But the flagship institution is supposed to be reflective of its home state. It is supposed to be the place that sets the academic standard for the state, a standard that demands strong college preparatory curricula in Georgia’s high schools. It should say to the people of the state that it will not tolerate the existence of any program that is not first class.”