President's ColumnSeptember 1999: Vol. 78, No. 4

Students are our first priority

Michael F. Adams
In my first State of the University address, I said that our ultimate reason for being is to serve students. Yes, our research mission is important, as is that of public service. But if the University of Georgia is not perceived as a place that is student-friendly—as a place where the student is a priority—then the whole enterprise fails in its primary mission.

That's why I have been so pleased to introduce Dr. Richard Mullendore to the UGA community as our new vice president for student affairs and associate provost. I told Dick I wanted a student affairs vice president who was highly visible to students and their chief advocate with the administration. Dick's reputation at his previous appointment, the University of Mississippi, was as an activist whose place is not in the office but out on the campus—one whom the students view as mentor, friend, and champion.

Mullendore joins an administrative team that has heard the same marching orders. I want him and Tom Dyer, our new vice president for instruction, to be in such close consultation and communication that students have difficulty discerning the boundary between their respective areas of student life and academic instruction. A large part of learning on a university campus does not take place in the classroom. In preparation for my curent job, I learned as much from being in student government, my fraternity, and other extracurricular activities as I did in 60 graduate hours of instruction in higher education administration. Student life is every bit the learning environment that the classroom is. We must be equally intentional in enhancing it as such.

That's why, equally important as building the new Student Learning Center, is our ongoing program to enhance residence hall facilities and programming to bring more students to live on campus and place more academic resources within the residents' easy reach. The Learning Center will provide not only much-needed new classroom space, but an extension to our library facilities, new meeting places for study groups and student organizations, and a new hub to campus activity. Likewise, the just-completed renovation of Reed Hall and, as funding is available, a similar makeover of Myers Hall will provide modern living facilities to meet the expectations of today's student. These improvements will help foster a sense of campus community which we have been in danger of losing as ever more students commute from off-campus apartments.

Adams expects new student affairs vp Richard Mullendore (left) to be a champion to students. Here, he gets acquainted with student body president Tricia Page and vp Corey Stern.
Among the enhancements in Reed Hall is a 10-megabyte ethernet system, giving direct computer connectivity to every resident—"a port for every pillow." This fall, every room in Myers Hall will have a cable modem, providing the fastest-available Internet connectivity as well as cable TV. During this school year, work will continue to install this cable modem technology in most rooms in Brumby, Russell and Creswell halls. A new computer lab will be developed in Brumby Hall, with substantial upgrades to computer labs in Creswell, Myers, Russell, and Graduate and Family Housing.

Beginning this fall, the College of Arts and Sciences will open a permanent advising office in Brumby Hall, to be followed in the spring by an office in Creswell Hall. The great majority of students in these halls are freshmen. Not only will they now be able to readily access an academic advisor at an hour convenient to a student's hectic schedule, but also will receive information there on opportunities for involvements outside the classroom, from lectures to concerts to a myriad of extracurricular activities. An Honors Program advising office has opened in Myers Hall this fall, and an instructor of Romance languages lives in the Myers Community to collaborate with residence hall staff in cultural and educational activities, a program we hope to expand soon to other halls. An Academic Assistance Division office is now open in Brumby Hall to serve residents in all the high-rises through focused tutoring and guidance in time management. Freshman seminars will be taught in the residence halls this year, with faculty including vice president Dyer, Arts and Sciences dean Wyatt Anderson, and Alston Professor Zell Miller.

At UGA, our commitment to the quality of the student experience is real and growing. Our current students realize it, and they are spreading the word.

Michael F. Adams

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