At the start of each semester, I typically send a campus message welcoming everyone back and updating our community on the latest developments. This semester, due to two and a half days of cancelled classes, and a three-day shutdown of the federal government, I am a little late. However, this past week, we got the semester fully underway!
A couple of weeks ago, we announced the early admission results, where we admitted more than 4,600 students through Early Action. This is an outstanding group of students, both academically and in how they are impacting their schools and communities through their leadership. The 18,124 students who applied through Early Action represent a 16 percent increase over last year. While that is a reflection of Georgia Tech’s growing reputation for excellence, it also means a smaller percentage of very qualified applicants are admitted. To ensure that we can offer an opportunity to as many qualified students as possible, the Institute enrolls more than 1,000 students annually through different transfer pathways, giving more students an opportunity to become Yellow Jackets.
This past week we held our semiannual senior leadership retreat, where we brought together 62 members of our leadership team and the co-chairs of the three Action Teams formed last fall. At the meeting, Mike Vallecoccia, program and portfolio manager in Georgia Tech’s Strategic Consulting office, gave an overview of the Path Forward Advisory Group, the faculty-staff-student advisory group that is providing counsel in responding to and prioritizing the Action Teams’ recommendations. The advisory group is currently working to cluster and prioritize the more than 180 recommendations submitted by the three Action Teams. After they finalize the groupings, they will propose a set of objectives and measurable outcomes, and engage leaders and sponsors from across campus. In February, they will also begin tracking and reporting to leadership and the campus on the various Path Forward initiatives. Also at that meeting, I announced that we are continuing to discuss how to address the timing, formation, and composition of the fourth Action Team focusing on campus safety.
Finally, during the retreat, we divided into four groups to: (1) discuss ways to increase faculty and staff awareness in identifying and assisting distressed and/or disenfranchised students, (2) discuss the concept of the formation of a Student Mental Health Advisory Council, (3) discuss Georgia Tech’s core values and ways to increase awareness in the campus community, and (4) address the needs of our graduate students.
I closed the day with an update on the Library Next renovation project, the Student Center design plans, support for the Georgia Advanced Biomanufacturing Center, our strategic role with the city and the state in economic growth (including attracting business and industry), and our more than 20 innovation centers in and around Georgia Tech’s Technology Square. In fact, I left the retreat and immediately went to Tech Square, where I participated in the opening of the Chick-fil-A innovation center, the first center in the historic Biltmore.
This semester, we will be focusing on a number of systemwide initiatives in collaboration with the University System of Georgia (USG), including the recently announced Comprehensive Administrative Review (CAR). We will also continue to monitor other important issues impacting higher education throughout our nation. As is always the case, we have a great deal planned, with both challenges and opportunities, and this semester promises to be a busy one.
In closing, let me welcome you back and wish you all the best as we continue working together to make Georgia Tech one of the best universities in the world. Go Jackets!!
G.P. “Bud” Peterson