At Convocation last August, I challenged us as a community to engage with each other more powerfully, as we bounce back from the pandemic. That engagement is at the heart of our new strategic plan, Middle Georgia's Path to Excellence.

Congratulations! The current evidence is clear that our engagement across campuses is growing. There are a surge of activities, such as the recent Student Leadership Conference, more campus club activities, external trips, and new ways of bringing teaching and learning together in a way that connects us more closely. The Administration is monitoring these engagements, and I am proud that our students are staying at MGA in larger numbers than before. That is no accident but part of a process of retention in which engagement is core. And engagement can be fun! Later this month I am hosting a “Pickleball with the President” event with our students in Cochran. My lack of sporting prowess will be on full display!

This January, MGA hosted more than seven times the number of events than last January, drawing over 1,800 attendees, a thirteenfold increase from January 2023. This year's events have doubled the attendance, with an average of over 60 students at each event. The momentum continued into February. MGA not only added seven more events, like Basketball Knight, but also saw an increase in the average attendance at each event in relation to last year. Compared to last February, 713 more students engaged at these events. Our Housing & Residence Life engagement initiatives have also experienced remarkable growth. In the first two months of this year, Housing & Residence Life hosted 57 events, more than doubling the number from the same period in 2023. Nearly 3000 students have already participated in Housing & Residence Life events this year, surpassing the total participation in all of spring 2023.

During the State of the University address, I highlighted USG Chancellor Sonny Perdue's frequent reference to the vision of "E pluribus unum" – out of many, one. We have taken significant strides in building that unity across the diversity of our campuses and student groups. I thank each of you for building this unity and vibrancy across our community, building an MGA where memories are made and lifelong friendships are forged. Let's continue to create these unforgettable experiences together by staying actively involved in future events and initiatives, even as we anticipate a new class of students arriving in just five months to experience that engagement.

Go Knights!