Good Things Take Time: Courage to Continue

During the course of the last two weeks, my experience of the “public square”—a metaphor I have used to describe the environment for a public university—was being at the State Capitol to meet with our representatives and senators about funding.  Specifically, we are asking our elected officials to support our request for nearly $1M to begin the planning and design work in the upcoming fiscal year FY19 for renovations on our Cochran campus that are vital to enrollment growth.  If we are successful, and the legislature and the Governor sign off on the University System of Georgia’s request, then we can look forward to the planning stage of our Cochran renovations beginning this summer.

In addition to our current requests for support, some of our Aviation students visited the Capitol during Aerospace Day at the Legislature. Over the past several years, the state has invested in our Aviation programs, and it is important for our elected officials to see the return on their constituents’ investment.

I share these as illustrations of our plans and the work that is needed to keep them alive, and eventually successful.  We are developing a great plan for our campuses, but renovations on just one of them will take about three years of constant work, thinking, planning, persuading, adjusting, designing and constructing before the very first student opens a laptop and starts working in newly renovated buildings.  Our plan needs constant attention, and the end result is something that then takes off, in this case, a student learning in a better environment.

I talked in the White Paper issued earlier this month about intentionality.  By that I mean knowing what we are going after, and why it serves our mission.

We have seen the effectiveness of intentionality with our Spring enrollment efforts. Thanks to many working together across divisions under the leadership of the Enrollment Action Team, we are just 71 credit hours away from exceeding last Spring’s enrollment! After our 4.8% decline in the fall, I cannot overemphasize what an accomplishment this is. Yet, as Churchill once said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts.”

As we continue our efforts to draw students to Middle Georgia State and help them succeed here, many of us will be asked to work in new and different ways. For instance, this Spring, we will host Saturday Open Houses—in both Macon and Cochran—on March 24 and April 21. We expect these day-long events to bring hundreds of prospective students and their families to our campuses. Our ability to provide the support these students need to enroll can help make the difference for continued growth through the Summer and Fall.

At the same time, we have started organizing to work on our next Strategic Plan, and I am pleased the campus will contribute to that process in many ways. I am grateful to those of you who have already provided feedback on our White Paper. It will take all of us to drive success, and I am grateful we have the collective courage to continue.

Continuing to engage with them both in Atlanta and here at home, I also am grateful to our elected officials in the General Assembly.  They have thousands of requests for help, but they focus on the Governor’s priorities and begin the long work of evaluating and funding the chosen projects.  Let us hope that our funding request is one they will see as paying forward the promise to our students.

Good things often take time.  Our students know that.  Their degrees take years to accomplish.  They are intentional about their learning.  They adjust their lives to reach their goals.  They set aside distractions.  They commit to their growth.  The success of our students provides an apt model for us at this time, as we commit at the age of five to a new chapter and era in our life as Middle Georgia State University.