TAKE 5 - President Jere W. Morehead on partnerships with local schools

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Q: UGA partnered with the Clarke County schools this year to launch Experience UGA, a program that will bring every student in kindergarten through 12th grade to campus once a year. How does the university benefit from this?

A: Through this new program, the university is able to have regular exchanges with our local students and expose them to the many opportunities found at this great institution. For many students, it will be their first opportunity to step inside the gates of a college campus. We hope and expect this experience will encourage students to see college as an available option here or at another institution of higher education.

Q: The Institute of Higher Education at UGA oversees the Georgia Advising Corps program. How does the state benefit from this?

Jere W. Morehead

A: This program places recent UGA graduates in high schools across Georgia to work full time as college advisers to help students, especially low-income and first-generation students, aspire to and pursue postsecondary education. It assists students in the college search and application process, in applying for financial aid and in finding the “right fit” for matriculation. By increasing the number of Georgia high school students who are enrolling in and completing college, this program supports workforce and economic development for the state.

Q: How is this important to UGA?

A: UGA is a land-grant institution with a special obligation to serve the state. Our university is better when our state is stronger, and we believe our state benefits from a strong UGA. The more we serve the state, the more we help our own institution meet its special obligations and responsibilities.

Q: The Board of Regents also mandated that public colleges and universities increase their retention and graduation rates. UGA already has among the highest retention and graduation rates in the state. What can we do to improve?

A: We have outstanding freshman to sophomore retention rates—94 percent—and a rising six-year graduation rate—83 percent. These percentages put us in a very competitive position with our peer institutions. Through additional advising support and faculty mentoring, as well as more need-based aid, I believe we can move these numbers even higher. We certainly believe our four-year graduation rate, while in alignment with our peers, has room for growth as well.

Q: What obligation do colleges and universities have in helping educate children in K-12 schools?

A: There are many reasons for colleges and universities to support K-12 education. First, the students at UGA come from the K-12 education system and the better educated they are, the stronger we are as a university community. A second reason is that a stronger K-12 system will help make the state’s workforce stronger, smarter and more nimble. Finally, K-12 education systems need highly skilled teachers and principals and the University of Georgia has been a leader for over a century in training the best teachers and school leaders in our state.

Clarke Central High School 10th-graders Nicole Googe (left) and Evan Newman (center) take a close look at an insect with Courtney Holt, a Ph.D. student in entomology. Googe and Newman are AP biology students visiting campus for an Experience UGA program led by the Department of Entomology. Photo by Dot Paul.