by Tunisa Williams | July 31, 2012 3:19 pm
So far, it seems that much of the discussion about the consolidation of ASU and GHSU has focused on the merits of consolidation or the name of the new university. In his latest blog post, Dr. Azziz elaborates on one of the most daunting questions: How do we consolidate two very different institutions into America’s next great university?
Read Deconstructing the University: The Work of the Consolidation Work Teams, and join in the dialog.
The consolidation of ASU and GHSU has been dominating our landscape and will likely do so for some time. Like all things of great value, it is fraught with difficulty and challenge.
Hurdles abound. How do we mesh two apparently divergent institutional missions? How do we ensure local access at a research university with a statewide mission? How do we meld vastly different faculty cultures? How do we improve the baccalaureate experience while continuing to excel in graduate education? How do we expand non-health science offerings while ensuring the competitiveness of our health programs? How do we transform our commuter-oriented campus into a residential campus? How do we keep tuition affordable while meeting the needs of a research university? How do we stay nimble while maintaining staff alignment? How do we ensure communication in a diverse university? How do we build and grow during a recession?
Many great challenges…. Not for the faint of heart.
Of course, tremendous benefits will arise: A new comprehensive research university for Georgia. A higher-quality university for our students and community. A greater portfolio of offerings for our learners. Greater collaborative opportunities for our faculty. Greater economies of scale.
And one of the major benefits that is becoming evident arises from our efforts to deconstruct the university. This deconstruction isn’t coming from jackhammers, backhoes, cranes or dump trucks. It is coming from our Consolidation Work Teams as its members reduce the university into its component elements, analyze the results, and propose a better path to the future.
Few opportunities exist for a university to examine its operations in such a panoramic manner. The consolidation of our universities is rare not only in Georgia, but in our nation-perhaps a once-in-a-century event.
And two principal elements will determine the success of this process deconstruction and reconstruction: The process being used… and the vision being pursued. Let’s take a detailed look at each of these elements.
Deconstruction and self-examination require a relatively broad, deep and well-coordinated review process. Over 50 Consolidation Work Teams are overseeing the unification process (see http://asughsu.org/work-teams), each led by an ASU and a GHSU representative. Another 25 or so joint subteams are addressing more specific issues. Focus areas include macro-level issues such as faculty governance and campus security, and micro-level issues such as honors and traditions. Our team mascot? School song? Official colors? These and many other issues will strike at the very heart of our collective culture, and none are being overlooked.
Overseeing the entire initiative is the Consolidation Action Team, a group of GHSU/ASU senior staff members (http://asughsu.org/cat) who vet the work teams’ and subteams’ recommendations, honing their outcome and direction. The recommendations they approve are forwarded to the Consolidation Work Group (http://asughsu.org/cwg), a group of community and university leaders appointed by the University System of Georgia Chancellor to advise the Board of Regents about consolidation. Communication between the Consolidation Action Team and Consolidation Work Group is bidirectional and iterative, fostering the development of the best recommendations possible.
The complexity of this project requires careful and continuous coordination. The Division of Institutional Effectiveness is applying project management methodologies to organize the efforts, communications and documentation of the Work Teams’ efforts, as well as providing data analysis and assessment to inform the recommendations of work teams for implementing the consolidation. All of these endeavors should ultimately result in the approval to consolidate by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools’ Commission on Colleges this December.
The many students, faculty, staff and community members involved in the entire undertaking are performing yeoman’s work (see Box), a true labor of love. Thanks to all!
We should recognize that successfully ‘deconstructing and reconstructing’ the university requires everyone involved to fully embrace a future-oriented vision of the new university.
To be clear, the goal of consolidation is to create a new comprehensive research (‘R1′) university (see http://azziz.georgiahealth.edu/archives/460). All such universities are anchored around foundational areas of expertise and focus: Georgia Tech around engineering and architecture, the University of Georgia around agriculture and environmental sciences, Georgia State around policy, law and urban studies. We will join the prestigious national ranks of those who, like Johns Hopkins and the University of Alabama at Birmingham, are anchored around the health sciences.
A foundational anchor does not preclude excellence in many other areas: Georgia Tech in business, UGA in law and journalism, Georgia State in education, Johns Hopkins in the liberal arts, etc. Consistent with our goal to definitively create Georgia’s fourth comprehensive research university.
And we are also creating a national resource, the next great American university … competitive and competing with the best of the best in our nation and the globe. That means we need to unabashedly and unwaveringly strive for excellence and quality. We cannot simply be “good enough.”
Herein lies the next great hurdle for our Work Teams and ourselves: The need to excel and aspire to be the best, rather than simply striving to find common ground and compromise, or worse, aiming towards the lowest common denominator.
We will fail if we simply strive for ‘good enough.’ Doing what we have always done is compromising… and compromise for its own sake generally leads to mediocrity. We must aspire to excellence, to delivering the highest quality of education and research, to being best in class.
We must be future-oriented, fully embracing the creation of the next great American university beyond what any of us can imagine. For who would have imagined a generation ago that Kennesaw State University would now have 24,000 students, or that Georgia Tech would be one of the top-four engineering schools in the country, or that distance learning would so immeasurably enhance access to higher education in our state?
We must ensure excellence and global relevance. It would be a pity-a sin, as my mother would say-to squander this once-in-a-century opportunity to create the next great American university for our community, for Georgia and for the world for the sake of compromise, fear, complacency or simply lack of imagination.
We must remain vigilant, ensuring that our work groups and subteams remain focused, and are fostered and supported, to create the next great American university. This is our time!
Source URL: http://www.asupr.com/asureport/2012/07/deconstructing-the-university/
Copyright ©2013 ASU Report unless otherwise noted.