Upon arriving to the State of the University Address on Thursday, I was struck by how few students were in attendance. As the only student there (or so it appeared), I perhaps have a different perspective on President Jere Morehead’s remarks than the suit-clad men and professional women who filled the the room. Following the standard introduction, the president our illustrious university rose to speak.
I’d like to mention a few points of interest Morehead made in his address. A bragging point of his are the University’s rising GPAs. Specifically, he mentioned that the average GPA for athletes is 3.01, the first time it ever exceeded 3.0 in the university’s history. While potential NFL drafts don’t require good grades, only 2 percent of college football players eventually play professionally. Other sports send about as few athletes to the pros. If UGA intends to educate those who won’t be drafted, 3.01 is too low a number to be a success story.
Associated with this is the university’s low four-year graduation rate for all students, 62.4 percent. At other top-tier public universities, this number is 71.7 percent.
Morehead outlined a series of new, costly projects, but was not forthcoming with details. While financial details don’t need to be disclosed in a broad address, greater elaboration would have been useful — particularly for donors Morehead so clearly courted in his address. The science learning center proposed to — and recently accepted by — Governor Nathan Deal will costs $4.7 million dollars. The building will house projects in ten different disciplines. No other information regarding the purpose of the multimillion dollar project was divulged. I am certain there is value in this addition and the additional $11.6 million proposed for various projects, but the statements lacked substance.
However, Morehead described new, positive developments related to student issues.
The creation of a Student Veterans Resource Center last year promotes academic excellence for those who are struggling to transition back to civilian life.
The University’s work with the state government to foster economic development in Atlanta piqued my interest, as UGA sends so many leaders to Atlanta that our continued presence there serves the best interest of the University and the city.
Competitive, merit-based pay initiatives for faculty, one of the president’s biggest goals, will help retain UGA’s best professors while encouraging better teaching.
A growing reliance on graduate students for research and teaching also demands attention, so Morehead proposed a $2 million increase in stipends and tools to help graduate students find jobs.
A welcome one-year price freeze for housing and food service will keep college more affordable.
Of particular importance to this publication, Morehead said that he hoped to listen to all groups and voices during his time as president. As seen in last semester’s protests against uncouth Facebook comments (which The Arch Conservative covered in its pages and on National Review Online), Morehead makes decisions based in part on how the student body reacts to events and situations.
—Brennan Mancil is a freshman studying political science and international affairs
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