University of West Georgia outlines strategic goals

The University of West Georgia's East Commons. PHOTO CONTRIBUTED.
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The University of West Georgia's East Commons. PHOTO CONTRIBUTED.

Plans include more student projects, faculty research

University of West Georgia leaders on Thursday announced a five-year strategic plan officials hope will boost enrollment, improve graduation rates and increase research opportunities for its faculty.

The “Becoming UWG” plan includes pushing students to complete projects that take more than a semester and reevaluating the cost of some fees. University leaders will also work to enhance its graduate program. About one-quarter of the university’s enrollment consists of graduate students, one of the highest rates in the University System of Georgia.

The university’s six-year undergraduate graduation rate, 44%, is 14 percentage points lower than the systemwide average. UWG’s president, Brendan B. Kelly, believes the extended student projects will help their academic performance, citing data that shows such work and other experiences improve student outcomes.

“It’s about us defining our own value,” Kelly, who became the university’s president last year, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We want to make sure when looking at universities in the metropolitan Atlanta area, UWG is among that first choice.”

UWG has about 13,000 students, the seventh-largest enrollment in the University System.

An unrelated part of Kelly’s plan is to repair his relationship with faculty, who voted 263 to 129, with 55 abstentions, in October that they have no confidence in his leadership. Their complaints included that Kelly’s restructuring of some departments reduced faculty classroom instruction time. University System and student government association leaders released statements at the time supporting Kelly.

Kelly said he believes the relationship with faculty is improving in part after hiring a new provost and by engaging with them more frequently.

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University of West Georgia President Brendan B. Kelly. PHOTO CONTRIBUTED.

University of West Georgia President Brendan B. Kelly. PHOTO CONTRIBUTED.
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University of West Georgia President Brendan B. Kelly. PHOTO CONTRIBUTED.

Faculty senate chair Daniel K. Williams said he supports the administration’s academic goals and noted some have been recently proposed by other UWG leaders and others have been implemented. Williams said he and other faculty members want more involvement in the decision-making process.

“Many faculty have a lot of promising ideas for creative ways to meet the needs of students in their programs, but their ability to implement those ideas and help students has been hampered by administrative directives over which they have little control,” Williams said.

Other goals include recruiting more students from the Atlanta region and Alabama. The main campus, located in Carrollton, is about 110 miles from Birmingham. About 7% of its enrollment is out-of-state students.

Kelly also talked about having a more diverse workforce. While nearly 50% of its students are non-white, about 22% of its faculty are non-white.

Kelly said his team will continually monitor to see how the plans are working and what adjustments are needed.


BY THE NUMBERS

13,419 - fall 2020 enrollment

44% - six-year graduation rate

3,088 - graduate student enrollment

21.6 - the percentage of non-white faculty

Source: University System of Georgia

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