TAKE 5 - President Jere W. Morehead on engaging students
Q: UGA enrolls some of the brightest high school graduates from Georgia and around the country. Why is it necessary to offer them programs like First-Year Odyssey seminars and the Freshman College Summer Experience?
A: We have an obligation to provide these outstanding students with an extraordinary undergraduate experience. Making sure our students have early contact with tenured and tenure-track faculty ensures that we give our students an enriching experience not always present at other major universities. As someone who has taught in the Odyssey program, I know that our students value the chance to get to know their professors in a small seminar setting. It prompts the kind of learning that sets us apart.
Q: The Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities is enrolling more first-year students. How does this complement their core academic curriculum?
A: When I served as director of the Honors Program, I had the chance to play a role in building CURO. I had no idea then it could ever become what it is now—a first-class program that cuts across the entire campus and provides the mechanism for undergraduate students to work closely with our faculty on research projects. These sorts of out-of-class experiences complement what our faculty do in the classroom and give our students a richer academic experience.
Q: Are there disciplines in which you would like to see undergraduate research expand?
A: Ideally, I would like to see undergraduate research opportunities in every academic discipline. The goal is to see more of our best students choose this option. From my conversations with the faculty, I believe they find this kind of work with our students to be particularly meaningful and rewarding. It’s what a great university should be about—linking our faculty with our students at every opportunity.
Q: What role does international education play in retaining and graduating students?
A: Thanks to so many individuals at UGA, we have one of the broadest and largest international education programs in the country. We believe these opportunities provide our students with unique experiences to leave their comfort zones and engage in challenging and innovative programs that enrich their undergraduate education.
Q: How do UGA’s freshman programs compare nationally?
A: I am pleased that we were recently given a grade of A by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni for the quality of our core curriculum. This recognition provides some evidence we are doing the right things. Our 94 percent freshman-to-sophomore retention rate is further evidence that we are doing well. However, I do not think we should ever be satisfied with the status quo. We want to strive for even higher graduation rates and more programs that will ensure our students leave here as successful graduates.
Graduate students Michael Levine (left) and Jessica Machacek pull a silk screen print onto T-shirts during an open house at the Lamar Dodd School of Art. Part of UGA’s second Spotlight on the Arts festival, the open house also included demonstrations in painting and drawing, ceramics and other disciplines. Held Nov. 7-15, Spotlight on the Arts featured more than 60 events across campus—concerts, theater and dance performances, art exhibitions, poetry readings, film festivals, discussions on the arts and creativity and more. Student-organized events included flash mobs and a campus-wide, interactive game of Clue. Photo by Peter Frey.