Our Values in Bloom this Spring

As we welcomed hundreds of visitors to our Cochran, Macon and Eastman campuses on Saturday for the hugely successfully Open House, I noticed the banners behind the podium proudly showcasing our University’s four Core Values, including the first, “Stewardship”.

That was a major theme for us last week, especially during the Board of Regents meeting which confirmed the FY19 Budget for Middle Georgia State University, alongside the allocations for our sister institutions in the USG.

We did well last week, and I thank Nancy Stroud for leading the budget request and preparation process earlier in the spring.  We learned that we have received an additional $1.8 million dollars in state allocations for the next fiscal year.  This is very good news, and while not as high as our original request to the USG, it does show the confidence that our colleagues in Atlanta feel in the strength and sustainability of MGA.  After several years of allocation cuts and corresponding shrinking of operations on our campuses, a $1.8 million addition to state investment in the University will help us achieve a much greater level of financial stability.  Much of this funding will require mandatory expenditures – insurance and repairs, for example – but the remaining allocation does give us new discretionary flexibility to invest in those areas of excellence that will grow the University and its enrollment, and promote its academic reputation across the region.  In the coming days the University will share more about how it can resource more strongly those areas that will achieve these outcomes.

This ability to adapt to a changing environment – in this case a welcome fiscal one – is of course another one of our Values, “Adaptability”.  At the same time that we learned of our State Appropriation increase, we also learned that the Chancellor had decided on a three year schedule to align online and face-to-face tuition, enabling us to drive some of the funding we save from that longer timetable into merit awards to salaries.  In a tight fiscal environment, it is very welcome to be able to reward our faculty and staff with merit increases commencing January 1, 2019 – albeit modest – that are fully funded from within the institution and without any dollar support from the State.  We had the opportunity to decline this opportunity, but I felt it important to signal to our faculty and staff the value, excellence and recognition that they deserve for the change they are navigating at this time.

And change we are indeed navigating.  A new level of collaboration, urgency and determination exists across offices and campuses, especially about the enrollment needs of the institution, and the signs are looking very promising.  I believe that is a direct result of the value of “Engagement” that we prize at MGA, and that engagement has changed how we are doing business. For instance, our Strategic Plan Ad Hoc Committee is working with all stakeholders—students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community members—to chart a course for our next 5-7 years. In the coming days, they will ask you to weigh in on what our priorities should look like.

In two short weeks we say goodbye to the Class of 2018, and that will be a fitting moment to celebrate their success.  We have already begun showcasing how students are living our value of “Learning” with Honors Convocation and the Student Leadership Awards this month commemorating their growth both inside and outside the classroom.

For now, we can see success occurring at new levels and in new ways in our own work at MGA.  And that success will become an integral part of how we think and act going forward through the summer and beyond.  I am so glad that the USG has shown a new level of investment in our work, so that we can look forward to a stronger and more sustainable future.  A future that we are stewards of, and that we can steward to new levels.