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Office of the President

Office of the President

August 8, 2017

In this post:

Good afternoon,

Welcome to the new academic year.

There is a story about President John F. Kennedy that I think is particularly relevant today. As I understand it, President Kennedy was visiting the NASA headquarters in 1961 for the first time. While he was touring the facility, he introduced himself to a man and asked him what he did for NASA.

The man replied he was helping to put a man on the moon.

Turns out that man was a custodian.

That man who spoke to the president knew he had a part to play in the overall mission of the organization. His job – what he did every day – helped what they were all trying to accomplish.

THAT is what I am hoping everyone at Columbus State University can feel about our core mission of attracting, educating, retaining, progressing and graduating students. That’s what we do. That’s why we are here.

That’s what today’s discovery activity at Clearview Hall was all about. We tried to make it a little fun, but our goal was to build better connections among you all, while also revealing the kinds of very real issues facing our students. We also wanted to show how these issues can be overcome when committed employees work together to solve problems. All with our students in mind.

Think about the WHY behind the things we do

So as you reflect on what we did today, I would ask you to spend this semester thinking about the WHY behind the things we do? If there is a form or procedure that must be followed…why? Do our rules make sense? Are we putting roadblocks in front of students? Are we frustrating each other? Are we making our lives more difficult only because that’s the way it has always been done?

I’m just asking you to think about WHY because it is up to each of us, regardless of our roles on campus, to help every student, and each other, succeed.

This fall marks the beginning of my third academic year at Columbus State University, and I am more excited than ever about our future because of all the great things happening on our campus and in our community.

As we prepare to celebrate our 60th anniversary in 2018, I believe we are on the verge of something extraordinary. From state leadership in Atlanta, to unparalleled community support, to the magic happening in our classrooms, everything seems to be lining up for Columbus State University to shed its expired label as just a local university. The college this community envisioned, built and supports now draws students from across the state of Georgia, our nation, and our world. Look at the national recognitions that came in this past year, or the visitors we attracted, or the credentials behind our hires. You should be proud of our university.

Very proud.

Because we are so close to it every day, we sometimes do not realize how we are perceived outside our borders. From my many visits and meetings off campus, I can assure you that Columbus State University is held in high regard. Our faculty make us experts; our staff make us proficient; our community makes us envied; our supporters make us reach; our alumni make us proud; and our students make us try harder every day.

We need to keep pushing for greater heights – to be better in everything we do.

That is part of my message to you today, just as it was part of a message to me on my very first day on campus. I mentioned I am now beginning my third year at CSU. When I first started here, on my very first day on the job, I had a lunch meeting with Mr. Bill Turner, who you all know passed away last week.

CSU Event

Columbus is a place where no dream is too big

When we met, he was ailing a bit, but it was clear he was still a giant of a man. He welcomed me graciously and quickly made sure I understood that Columbus is a place where no dream is too big. I came to see that his vision and his actions shaped this university and this community in ways that most will never understand. Without him, this community would be so different.

I doubt CSU would have a downtown campus, and we certainly would not have a servant leadership program or a core value of effective, ethical leadership through empowerment and service. Our students in these programs have created a ripple effect for modeling servant leadership throughout the state of Georgia and well beyond. And now we are working hard to extend that servant leadership concept throughout our campus.

Mr. Turner would be pleased.

Our university is in great shape today, and is well positioned for a strong future. Over the past year or so while we have been immersed in strategic planning we have been laying the groundwork for the future and moving forward on several initiatives.

My overall goal is to make Columbus State University a national model of empowerment through transformational learning experiences that prepare students to serve the world as creative problem-solvers and high impact leaders.

That means we are regularly recognized as a university that does more than teach – we create learning experiences for ALL our students. It means we practice the kinds of skills here on campus that we know employers are looking for when they hire the next generation of their workforce. It means we impact every learner who comes onto our campus or connects with us online, and we give them the capability of becoming a better leader, higher-level thinker and more productive member of society.

My goal, and these ideals, are part of the university’s new strategic plan, which you will hear a lot more about this semester.

Now as we begin our third year, I’m planning for the implementation of our new strategic plan, which will enable some moving parts to start coming together. We have identified six strategic initiatives that we think will help us be a better university, and help with our Complete College Georgia objectives of attracting, retaining and graduating more students.

  1. Academic Excellence
  2. Student-centered campus
  3. Innovation and Creativity
  4. Partnerships
  5. Leadership
  6. Sustainability

You may notice that these look very similar to our core values. That was not an accident. A diverse group of faculty and staff has been working diligently for about a year now to develop goals for these six initiatives. Work is ongoing now to develop action items and measurements for our plan.

Cody's Corner

Thank you to all of you who participated in focus groups and have provided feedback during our summer leadership retreat. This week, we will release a draft of this plan for campus review and feedback. The committee and I will make final revisions to the plan before the end of the semester with an expected launch date of January, 2018. The CSU 2022 plan will provide a guide for us over the next five years and will outline our goals as we strive to be a campus that champions creativity, innovation, discovery, entrepreneurship, and inclusion.

You will continue to hear a lot more about inclusion and its importance to our campus this year. We started this conversation last year, which prompted us to conduct a survey of faculty, staff and students to learn more about how people perceive CSU and what you really think about our actions and practices. As a result of that survey and my reading of the findings, I have made several recommendations for immediate next steps. They include:

  1. Publish a letter every year from the president outlining CSU’s commitment to inclusion on campus and adherences to state and federal guidelines.
  2. Begin a thorough review of the university’s hiring and disciplinary practices to ensure compliance with state and federal guidelines, as well as how employees can report any suspected behavior that does not meet these standards.
  3. Proceed with the hiring of a high-level staff member whose focus is on ensuring CSU’s values of inclusion and engagement are modeled on a daily basis, at all levels of the university.
  4. Expand the university’s professional development opportunities so employees have more access to training and education on how to successfully model inclusion and engagement.
  5. Continue the “courageous conversations” that were originally part of the survey process, and make them a routine part of every semester.

Our commitment to inclusion was reaffirmed for me this summer during a meeting for University Presidents I attended in Boston, MA. During the meeting, we were all reminded of the rich history of that city and the historical significance of so many incredible people who sacrificed themselves for freedom. As we traveled along the freedom trail and learned details about stops on the Underground Railroad, it was sobering to walk in the footsteps of those who fought for many of the freedoms we enjoy today.

I am reminded that so many of our students come from populations that have been traditionally under-represented in higher education, be it because of race, gender, or socio-economic background.

We serve a significant number of students for whom this experience will be transformational – for themselves, and for their families.

In many respects, today, we too have our place in helping to secure liberty and freedom, not just by helping to ensure an increasing percentage of adults who have post high school credentials and creating an educated citizenry to help propel democracy, but to help ensure our students' freedom to learn,
their freedom to succeed,
their freedom to fail,
their freedom to create,
their freedom to challenge.

We have a role in helping our students gain intellectual freedom and economic freedom through higher education. We have a role to play in their freedom to become their best selves.

Our mission is clear. Our values are real. And our challenge is to accept our students where they are and get them where they need to be and to see our students for who they are, and help them become who they were meant to be.

A conference theme I saw recently was “Reach Every Learner.” As we begin this new academic year, let that be our goal!

Our state budget allocation this year has us on solid ground to reach this goal. Thanks to our legislative delegation, we have a new lab sciences building under construction, and planning under way for a renovation to the main library. And as a result of an enrollment increase two years ago, when state budget formulas are computed, our state allocation this year was one of the strongest in recent history. Due in large part to our growth, we are able to invest in a number of important areas.

The governor’s budget included $770,000 for merit increases. CSU added $374,000 to this funding to assure that total merit funding pool equaled 2% of all employees’ current salaries. CSU also added about $435,000 to the state allocation to address needs from our ongoing faculty salary study, meaning CSU will invest nearly $1.6 million dollars this year augmenting staff and faculty salaries.

This year we will continue our study of salaries on campus to include staff, and I have asked for a particular emphasis on developing career and promotion paths for as many types of staff positions as possible and to make more adjustments in the future, as the budget allows.

New funding from enrollment growth will allow us to add seven new faculty lines in high-growth areas such as cybersecurity, education and nursing.

Keeping in mind our strategic priorities of student growth and student success, we also have been able to hire two additional academic advisers, two new recruiters, a student life development specialist, and we are adding $300,000 to support tutoring and counseling efforts.

As you may recall, we did not see an enrollment gain last year, and next year's budget will likely reflect that lack of growth so our investments this year are strategically important.

Enrollment growth from two years ago was a key to our funding success, and we are investing significant resources back into our efforts to attract, retain and graduate more students. Let me reiterate, we do not simply want more bodies.

We are looking for more and better students who will continue to elevate our capabilities and our reputation.

We have restructured some of our practices and personnel in our Enrollment Management area to help with our recruitment and admissions effort this year. With more changes to come in the area of marketing and branding, I expect us to begin to grow strategically, steadily and incrementally over the next several years.

Last semester, Chancellor Wrigley launched a system-wide taskforce on efficiencies. His goal is to envision ways we can be more responsible and creative with the resources to which we have been entrusted. As we fully participate in the Chancellor's efforts (I am serving on the system-wide steering committee) we will begin our own review of processes, procedures, and organization to make sure we are managing our resources effectively and efficiently. As we stress creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship at Columbus State, I encourage new and innovative ideas for how we can be better.

Another area that underscores our stability is community support and private giving. As you may remember, we are in the midst of the First Choice comprehensive campaign that has successfully generated more than $83 million to date in gifts and commitments toward our priorities. That total goes up if you count in-kind gifts, but we need to focus on meeting our campaign priorities.

We need to involve more of our alumni. We need to invest more in scholarships. We need more endowed professorships. And we need to identify more ways to help students in need. You will hear more about these efforts this year.

I do want to say a particular thank you to all of you who participate in our annual fund and who have gone above and beyond to support our First Choice Campaign.

This past year, CSU faculty and staff committed almost $114,000. In fact, we had about 30 different units and departments with 100 percent participation, including the College of the Arts.

The importance of this type of participation cannot be understated. When we approach major donors, funders, and foundations, often one of the first questions we are asked is to what degree do the faculty and staff support this campaign. We are thrilled to be able to report such strong support.

If you remember when I first arrived at CSU, I embarked on a listening tour spending much of my first year learning as I visited with friends, alumni, supporters, staff, faculty and various offices to find out more about this great university.

CSU has some amazing islands of innovation that might be strengthened if we could do more to connect them to each other.

My analysis was that CSU has some amazing islands of innovation that might be strengthened if we could do more to connect them to each other.

Making these connections and building those bridges was an intentional part of my agenda during my second year, as we looked for ways to build on our strengths, identify priorities, and – thanks to a great budget year – started putting the right resources in the right places.

Let me share with you just two examples of how these bridges and connections are being made.

Leadership and leadership development have been strengths at CSU. In fact, from my experience, while many campuses have varying programs related to leadership, it is rare to have a campus that puts a stake in the ground and states that it matters HOW you lead. It is impressive that CSU places a value on servant leadership.

Yet, while we had an undergraduate program for select students, a graduate program, and a separate leadership center, there did not appear to be significant collaboration or coordination. Over the past year, I am pleased that we have brought those areas together, begun strategic conversations, and have developed a model of what servant leadership means for us at CSU.

Further, this summer, we made servant leadership a significant focus at our Summer Leadership Retreat, bringing together more than 160 faculty and staff from across campus.

We are expanding on our expertise in leadership development for faculty, staff, and students

But in addition to just bringing together those already working in the area of leadership, I am also pleased that as a result of these broader conversations, we are expanding on our expertise in leadership development for faculty, staff, and students.

First, we have launched the inaugural cohort of Lead CSU, a year-long leadership fellowship program for faculty and staff. Developed in conjunction with CSU’s Leadership Institute, the Faculty Center for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning and Staff Council, this program is designed to enhance professional development and build the skills and competencies needed to be an effective leader at CSU.

Second, we are launching a new student leadership development program this semester called iLEAD. Open to all students, the iLEAD program is a conduit for students to engage in multiple leadership experiences occurring on campus. It is directly connected to our university’s core values and every iLEAD workshop incorporates active learning, soft skill development and student reflection.

And third, we have launched a new student extended orientation for first year students called Camp PROWL, a 4-day, 3-night camping experience designed to better connect students to campus before classes begin. P.R.O.W.L. stands for pride, relationships, opportunities, wisdom, and leadership – all themes that directly connect to the values of CSU.

These are just three new efforts underway as we bridge the islands of leadership innovation.

Muscogee Counter School District

A second example of this is our growing partnership with the Muscogee County Public School District. We are fortunate to have had a strong relationship with our local school district for many years. Our College of Education and Health Professions has worked particularly closely with our school district for years. It is because of this collaborative relationship that we are able to take our partnership to new levels with unprecedented opportunities.

You may have seen one announcement recently of a National Security Agency grant that resulted from one of these partnerships. In what may be a first for Georgia, Columbus State University is partnering with Rothschild Middle School Leadership Academy to develop and implement a course in cybersecurity education specifically designed for 7th and 8th grade middle school students.

We will see more exciting announcements in the future as we work together with Muscogee County School District in six areas:

  • Align university curriculum with what MCSD seeks in a teacher.
  • Collaborate on faculty development to help implement active learning in classrooms.
  • Plan for the development of an urban lab school.
  • Plan for the transformation of school libraries into innovation and discovery centers.
  • Continue the joint MCSD/CSU planning and development for a focused effort develop soft skills in PK-graduate education.
  • Expand Move On When Ready participation, with Columbus Technical College

We have had faculty and staff working in each of these areas for some time, but I believe bringing them together as a focused partnership will allow us to leverage resources and expertise to achieve more significant results.

But this partnership is also part of something bigger. Many of you may have heard about the Columbus 2025 initiative, a community strategic plan to improve the competitiveness of the greater Columbus area as a place to live, learn, work, visit and do business. Columbus State University will have an important role in this initiative, which promises to transform this region over the next decade.

One of our shared responsibilities with our other educational partners is to make sure that ALL our graduates are well-prepared to enter the workforce, and life. We are part of an educational ecosystem and working with our partners to help produce more graduates with required the new-century skills is critical.

These are but two examples of how faculty and staff are joining together to provide more and better opportunities for each other and our students. There are many other examples such as the Center for Career Development’s “Career Ready” tool for students, the early warning system now fully implemented in the Academic Center for Excellence, or the new mentoring tool that’s being developed by the alumni office.

Implementation of our new strategic plan, which will enable some moving parts to start coming together

Now as we begin our third year, I am planning for the implementation of our new strategic plan, which will enable some moving parts to start coming together.

We have released a draft of this plan for campus review and feedback. The committee and I will make final revisions to the plan before the end of the semester with an expected launch date of January, 2018. The CSU 2022 plan will provide a guide for us over the next five years and will outline our goals as we strive to be a campus that champions creativity, innovation, discovery, and entrepreneurship.

Several of our current initiatives will play a prominent role in the CSU 2022 Plan:

LEAP

LEAP

LEAP stands for Liberal Education and America’s Promise, a national public advocacy and campus action initiative that champions the importance of a liberal education—for individual students and for a nation dependent on economic creativity and democratic vitality. Georgia became part of the LEAP network in 2016 and our CSU Faculty Senate endorsed the LEAP principles as part of that process.

LEAP Georgia has stated it’s commitment to developing the LEAP vision through creation of purposeful pathways for students and high levels of student achievement of the Essential Learning Outcomes. LEAP values, the values of liberal education, are essential for future professionals, future citizens, and future leaders. LEAP Georgia is committed to the Principles of Excellence toward the goals of inclusivity, civic connection, and lifelong inquiry.

For me, LEAP brings together many of often perceived disjointed initiatives of what students need to learn, how we should help them learn, how we should assess their learning, and how we should serve all student populations.

According to their website, LEAP promotes:

Essential Learning Outcomes—as a guiding vision and practical approach to college learning

Principles of Excellence—offering both challenging standards and flexible guidance for an era of educational reform and renewal

High-Impact Educational Practices—ways of engaging and challenging students—such as first year programs; intensive writing, collaborative assignments, undergraduate research, internships, and major projects that help students achieve essential learning outcomes

Authentic Assessments—using students’ own work and faculty-validated rubrics, probing whether individual students have developed essential capacities, and can apply their learning to complex problems and real-world challenges

Students’ Signature Work—challenging higher education to prepare all students to complete a substantial cross-disciplinary project in a topic significant to the student and society, as part of the expected pathway to a degree.

We opened the semester with a national expert on this initiative, Dr. Susan Albertine. LEAP is being embraced by many universities like ours across the country and I am pleased that we will all have the opportunity to learn more about LEAP and how we can utilize the LEAP resources to help students.

Assessment

The only area of concern when we went through our recent re-accreditation process with SACSCOC was how we assess what we are doing and use that information to improve learning, performance, and outcomes.

From university accreditation requirements, to the core curriculum learning outcomes, to strategic planning initiatives, you can expect we will be working to developing a culture of assessment and data analysis to guide our actions.

In an effort to help provide better data by which to evaluate our progress, we are expanding our capacity in the Office of Institutional Research and Effectiveness, which has now moved to the second floor of Richards Hall. All departments, units, and divisions must take this responsibility seriously.

To aid in this process, we have added to the substance of the annual reporting process and now ask Deans and other leaders to give annual presentations to the Executive Leadership Team on the progress of their college/unit in meeting their goals as well as how they are using assessment to inform discussions and drive change.

Research and Creative Activity

One of the benchmarks of a University's reputation is the productivity and impact of faculty research and creative activity. We have seen significant accomplishment and acclaim for our faculty. Last year, our faculty published more than 30 books and 66 book chapters, authored about 200 peer-reviewed publications and 22 conference proceedings. They presented at more than 200 state, regional national or international conferences and they hosted more than 50 performances, master lectures or artist residencies.

Innovative and Responsive Curriculum

CSU will continue to look for ways to connect with our local and regional communities to offer the types of degree programs that prepare our students for life in the 21st century and can lead to employment. We have seen several examples of colleges and departments pursuing programs to meet critical needs in very creative ways. Our cyber security program has a special focus on financial security, responding to the needs of our local industry. We moved quickly to become part of the Georgia Film academy and are now a significant player in this state-wide initiative. With private support, we have launched a dance program that is essential for expanding into musical theatre. These are just a few of the more recent examples.

It is exciting to hear of additional ideas being generated by faculty and by members of our community. Last semester, I was approached by several groups to inquire about CSU adding particular programs to meet perceived needs. I expect that the results of some of the Columbus 2025 workforce analysis will also inform us on what additional types of degree programs are necessary in the community that we might consider for the future.

Embark

Inclusiveness

As part of this value that reminds us to reach every learner, I’m pleased to announce that we will be expanding our food pantry program to the RiverPark campus. You may remember that we have created a foundation account, named “Embark,” to collect and distribute funds to current or aspiring CSU students living in transient situations. Funds will be used to purchase housing, food, clothing and other essential items so needy students may start or complete their degrees.

The account supports the network’s vision that: Any person who has experienced foster care and/or homelessness will have ample academic, financial, social, and emotional supports to access, navigate and complete a postsecondary education.

Policies and Procedures

Time and time again this past year, we have run into an issue that could have been easily resolved if there had been a policy that was clearly established and listed somewhere so that everyone could find it. We have been working hard to fix that problem. The Provost's Office has had two Summer Faculty Policy Fellows working over the past few months to gather and review existing policies and identify where gaps exist. We will continue working on our policies and procedures this year, and will house them all in one website.

So, as I outline all these initiatives that I expect will move forward this year, the reality is that our world is changing every day -- and at an increasingly rapid pace -- and that’s what we really need to be equipped to handle.

Just as we thought we had finally come to grips with what the millennial generation needed from us, generational followers and scholars tell us that the first of the next generation -- generation Z or the Homelanders (or whatever they end up being called) may be entering our classrooms as early as next week.

It is expected that this new generation of students will be as different from the millennial generation as the millennials were from the generation Xers.

Group Activity

What is clear for higher education institutions is that our environment will continue to change

What is clear for higher education institutions is that our environment will continue to change and as a result, we will need to continue to change and adapt. We need to be able to respond more quickly to societal, community, and employer needs. We need to equip our students with the skills necessary to manage and succeed in such a change-focused world.

So what do our students need from us now?

What does our community and the workforce need from us now?

For CSU, I believe our focus on our core values and our drive to develop students, faculty and staff who model creativity, innovation, discovery, entrepreneurship, and inclusion will position us for a distinctive and productive future and will be the keys to our success.

The 2017-18 academic year is shaping up to be exciting! And what an exciting future it can be.

Thank you for all that you do for our students, our community and each other.

Chris Markwood Signature

President Chris Markwood

 


 

July 13, 2017

In this post:

Good morning,

I hope your summer is going well and that you have had some time to get away and spend some time with family. I am heading to a couple of meetings out of town and then will be able to get in some vacation time with my family in Texas before the fall semester begins.

As you may have noticed, we are using summer to work on some things that need attention around campus. We have a new outdoor seating area outside Davidson. We are making some sidewalk repairs, and doing some renovations inside buildings. We are starting work on the lab sciences addition to LeNoir Hall, and we are also ramping up our new parking program by issuing decals and working on new signage around campus.

As you know, all of this leads up to the start of fall classes on August 14. Before classes begin, we have a full Welcome Week planned for faculty and staff. There are events, planning times, workshops and seminars in the works. Look for future announcements for details.

Welcome Week

We will start on Monday, Aug. 7 with a special welcome week activity, information session and lunch. More details will be coming on that later, but we will still have time to network, and talk about the year ahead. I thank you in advance for your active participation in the day.

We should all finish by early afternoon, leaving time later in the day for college and unit meetings.

Welcome Week

The rest of the week looks like this:

Tuesday, August 8

From 9-10 a.m., we will hear from Dr. Susan Albertine, senior scholar in the Office of Integrative Liberal Learning and the Global Commons and director of the LEAP states initiative for the Association of American College and Universities. You will hear more in the coming year about LEAP, which stands for Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP), a national public advocacy and campus action initiative that champions the importance of a liberal education—for individual students and for a nation dependent on economic creativity and democratic vitality.

(Campus will be closed for this hour to allow all faculty and staff to attend.)

After Dr. Albertine’s talk, there will be a number of chances for CSU faculty and staff to learn more about their craft, current issues or new opportunities at the Symposium and Development Fair. Please note: many of these sessions will require advance registration, so be on the lookout for details.

  • Concurrent sessions and resource fairs, 10 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
  • Buffet lunch and resources fair, 12:15-1 p.m.
  • Concurrent sessions and resource fairs; 1-4 p.m.

Wednesday, August 9

  • ROAR (new student orientation), all day
  • Professional development/information sessions (QM, Accessibility Training, etc.), 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1-4 p.m.

Thursday, August 10

  • Department/unit meetings, 8-10 a.m. and 12-2:30 p.m.
  • Faculty Senate, 10 a.m. to noon, President's Club in the Lumpkin Center
  • Provost meeting, 3-5 p.m.; location TBA, reception to follow

Friday, August 11

  • Faculty course prep
  • New Faculty Dinner, by invitation only

Camp PROWL

One of the initiatives I am particularly looking forward to this fall is our first Camp PROWL. If you have not heard about Camp PROWL yet, it is a new experience for incoming students designed to focus on student success in the transition from high school to college. This four-day, three-night camp will engage students in a fun and energizing program that creates an exciting entrance into their first year at CSU. PROWL stands for Pride, Relationships, Opportunities, Wisdom and Leadership.

Camp Prowl

We expect this new program will help students learn more about themselves and more about CSU. The ultimate goal is for these students to feel a strong connection with the university (and with each other), so they will be successful as students, graduates and alumni. My thanks to everyone on the Student Affairs team that has been planning Camp PROWL for more than a year.

New Hires

Finally, there are a couple of new faces on campus that I wanted to highlight. We have hired a new Executive Director of Recruitment and Admissions: Gary Bush, who was formerly the director of enrollment services for Kennesaw State's Marietta campus. He previously served as director of student recruitment and admissions for Southern Polytechnic State University. His first jobs are to work on filling our fall class and hiring new recruiters.

Another move to announce is that Theo Howard will be joining University Advancement as Director of Athletic Development. He will report to Spence Sealy, our Senior Associate Vice President for University Advancement. Many may know Theo from his time as the volunteer assistant coach on the Lady Cougar basketball team, coached by his wife Anita Howard. He will be working to raise much-needed private funds for all our athletic teams.

Open Office Hours

My next open office hours will be held on Thursday, July 27 from 10 a.m. to noon in my Richards Hall office.

Thank you for all that you do for our students, our community and each other.

Chris Markwood Signature

President Chris Markwood

 


 

June 16, 2017

In this post:

Good morning,

I hope you are enjoying your summer and are able to find time to spend with family and friends.

There was an interesting article in the New York Times earlier this month that addressed, on a national scale, many of the same issues that we have been discussing on this campus. We saw them come up during the big campus leadership retreat, and again at our recent ELT retreat.

The article was called Higher Education Seeks Answers to Leaner Years. I encourage you to read it.

One comment that stuck out to me was this: “There’s a fundamental lack of understanding about the strains that higher education is under.” Themes such as efficiency and affordability come up repeatedly here, and Georgia is mentioned as an example of each in action.

OneUSG

The most recent result of these efforts is the new HR payroll and benefits system for the entire USG, called OneUSG. OneUSG will go live for us on June 18. Part of OneUSG, HR Connect is the time and leave reporting system you've been hearing a lot about lately. Please continue to pay close attention to these messages about HR Connect and OneUSG and do not delay in following the instructions provided.

For questions about the new HR payroll and benefits system, contact our HR department. For assistance after June 18, you can also contact the USG Shared Services Center at 877-251-2644 or sscsupport@ssc.usg.edu.

Transitions and Hires

We will begin the new fiscal year with a number of changes around campus, and a few of those are in the President’s Office. These changes will continue to improve campus communication and operational efficiency and are made possible because of both reallocation of some existing resources as well as new funding we are receiving because of our growth in 2015-16. We will see some new faculty lines, new academic advisors, new recruiters, as well as funding for increased marketing, to name a few.

Ms. Nancy Marino

I am very pleased to announce that Ms. Nancy Marino from the RiverPark campus will be joining my office as our senior director of administrative services. She has a great record of collaboration and detail management that will add to Ms. LaWanna Hayes’ expertise and experience.

Dr. John Lester

Dr. John Lester will assume the formal role as chief of staff in addition to his duties over marketing and communication.

I mentioned in April that I was appointed to the University System of Georgia’s new Comprehensive Administrative Review committee. Last month, the Peach Belt Conference elected me to their executive committee.

Recognition Ceremonies

This weekend, I’m looking forward to attending the Georgia High School Valedictorian Recognition Ceremony. Governor Nathan Deal and First Lady Sandra Deal host the annual reception at the Governor’s Mansion to celebrate Georgia high school valedictorians and their families. First hosted by Governor Zell Miller in 1993, the reception is co-sponsored by the Georgia Student Finance Commission (GSFC) and the Governor’s Office.

I have been invited because several of those high school class valedictorians are now Columbus State University students! I will see the governor again later this month when he recognizes another group that includes CSU students -- the newest Woodrow Wilson Fellows.

The Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowship seeks to attract talented, committed individuals with backgrounds in the STEM fields—science, technology, engineering, and mathematics—into teaching in high-need secondary schools in Georgia. CSU is one of only five schools in Georgia chosen to train these teachers. It’s clear that others are also seeing the great things happening at CSU!

Policies and Procedures

Finally, work continues on our effort to clean up our policies and procedures. I am pleased that the Provost's Office has hired two Summer Faculty Policy Fellows to assist Dr. Stokes and his committee this summer. Thanks to Dr. Chris McCollough and Dr. Elliott Rendleman for joining this important effort.

Open Office Hours

My next open office hours will be held on Monday, June 19, from 9-11 a.m. in our RiverPark administrative offices, which are located off the courtyard of Columbus Hall at 1017 Broadway.

Thank you for all that you do for our students, our community and each other.

Chris Markwood Signature

President Chris Markwood

 


 

May 26, 2017

In this post:

Good morning,

I used to hear that once classes end, things are supposed to slow down around here. As of yet, I have seen no evidence of that phenomenon. Just this past week, we hosted three graduations, held an all-day retreat for campus leaders, and hosted a CSU Foundation Board of Trustees meeting.

If you missed our graduations, you missed a real party. Having these ceremonies back on our campus was special, and they might have allowed us to more easily connect what we do to the success stories that show the transformative power of higher education.

My thanks to Wendi Jenkins, Steve Morse, Stephanie Speer and their teams, and many, many others, who worked a lot of hours to pull off three ceremonies in 22 hours graduating what we believe to be a record number of students. By all accounts, everything went very smoothly, and our graduates and their families had a good time.

Leadership Retreat

My thanks also to all those who helped organize the Leadership Retreat we hosted last week. More than 150 campus leaders came together for a full day of discussion and collaboration, much of which was achieved through active learning practices. (You can see pictures from this event and others, such as the Faculty & Staff Recognition and Excellence Awards ceremony, on our Flickr account.)

Much of the retreat’s afternoon was taken up by teams of employees working together on a variety of tasks. Some were fun and some were challenging, but all required a team effort. The rewards for these challenges were “jewels” that teams redeemed at “Cody’s Corner” to “buy” parts to assemble two bicycles and food or toiletry items that will go to students in need.

Leadership Retreat

One of the big issues we tackled during the retreat was understanding and incorporating one of CSU’s core values: Servant Leadership, which we define as effective, ethical leadership through empowerment and service. We will continue to emphasize this value this year and offer opportunities for faculty, staff and students to learn more.

Strategic Plan

We also discussed our still-developing strategic plan. We laid out what we have done so far, asked people if we were missing anything under the six strategic initiatives that had evolved, and then asked them to start thinking about how these might be incorporated into division and unit plans.

These discussions will continue through this fall. Here’s where we are on some over-arching strategic initiatives:

1. STRATEGIC INITIATIVE 1: ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE

CSU will be a leader in academic excellence by utilizing evidence-based teaching and learning.

2. STRATEGIC INITIATIVE 2: STUDENT-CENTERED CAMPUS

CSU will increase student engagement with the campus and community by building a creative/student-centered campus that increases retention and yields higher graduation rates.

3. STRATEGIC INITIATIVE 3: INNOVATION & CREATIVITY

CSU culture will support and recognize innovation and creative activity.

4. STRATEGIC INITIATIVE 4: PARTNERSHIPS

CSU will build mutually beneficial partnerships that support local, regional, national and international communities.

5. STRATEGIC INITIATIVE 5: LEADERSHIP

CSU will provide faculty, staff and students with opportunities to develop leadership skills that support their current and future roles.

6. STRATEGIC INITIATIVE 6: ENROLLMENT GROWTH & SUSTAINABILITY

CSU will sustain and support enrollment growth through implementation of a strategic enrollment plan.

I expect that these plans and goals will be our priorities in the future, and, therefore, will be central to our financial planning. I mentioned this goal in my budget memo to campus on May 11. We will complete a draft of the plan over the summer and seek campus-wide input during the fall semester. From there, we will make final tweaks and roll out the new plan in January of 2018.

This Fall

Planning is already well under way for back-to-school activities beginning in the fall. A tentative schedule has been organized. Please put these dates on your calendar and watch for more details.

Monday, August 7

  • President's welcome back
  • Lunch
  • College meetings

Tuesday, August 8

  • CSU Faculty and Staff Symposium and Development Days
  • Move-In Day

Wednesday, August 9

  • CSU Faculty and Staff Symposium and Development Days
  • ROAR

Thursday, August 10

  • Department meetings
  • Faculty Senate
  • Provost meeting
  • Move-In Day

Friday, August 11

  • Faculty prep
  • New faculty dinner

Embark

I hope everyone saw the story about CSU joining Embark Georgia, a statewide network of postsecondary professionals and institutions that works to increase college access for fostered or homeless youth.

To coincide with its new partnership, Columbus State University created a foundation account, named “Embark,” to collect and distribute funds to current or aspiring CSU students living in transient situations. Funds will be used to purchase housing, food, clothing and other essential items so needy students may start or complete their degrees.

You would be surprised to learn how many of our students, and how many students around the country, are homeless or transient. This is an issue Bridget and I are passionate about, and I’m so glad CSU is addressing this important need.

Albany Tech Articulation Agreement

I traveled to Albany earlier this month to meet with folks from Albany Technical College (ATC), and to sign an articulation agreement that our Provost Office had arranged.

Academic programs in the new agreement include Accounting, Law Enforcement Technology, and Early Childhood Care and Education. ATC students in these programs would be eligible to transfer to CSU to earn a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) in Accounting, Bachelor of Science (BS) in Criminal Justice, or Bachelor of Science in Education (BSEd) in Early Childhood Education.

This is another such agreement we have forged with a technical college partner. These are important arrangements to formalize, and I expect we will have more in the future.

Swearing-In Ceremony

I hope many of you were able to attend yesterday's swearing-in ceremony for Mark Lott as CSU's new chief of police. It was a truly moving event that drew a crowd from campus and from our community, including dozens of representatives from various law enforcement and other first-responder agencies. We had visitors from the University System of Georgia, Fort Valley State University Police, Emory Police, Columbus Police, and more! My thanks also to State Court Judge Ben Richardson, for performing the swearing-in.

Chris Markwood Signature

I am certain that Chief Lott will perform his duties with the utmost respect for the safety of our campus and the CSU family. We are proud to have him leading what I believe to be the USG's finest police and security force.

As you have probably heard, our search for Provost is continuing again. Finding the right fit for CSU was important to the search committee -- and is important to me -- so we will continue to work toward that goal. I want to say a special thank you to the members of the search committee for all of their efforts.

Summer Guests

While summer may seem quiet to some, it is still a very busy time for many as we prepare for orientations, plan next year's schedule, organize events and host a myriad of groups on campus.

Last summer, more than 2,000 children and teenagers attended a CSU-hosted summer camp. That number includes a variety of athletic camps, which sometimes take up rooms in our residence halls. In addition to those camps, CSU will host a Junior ROTC campers, Miss Georgia contestants, guests from other universities, and attendees of the Southeastern Trombone Symposium. In all, we're planning for more than 2,500 guests on campus.

Campus Carry

One final note on an issue that many have asked me about - the new campus carry legislation that goes into effect July 1. Legal staff at the University System of Georgia has issued some guidelines on how we should interpret and implement this new law. We emailed this information to all employees yesterday, and we will be meeting systematically with groups on campus to help everyone understand this new law.

Open Office Hours

My open office hours for the summer have been scheduled for Monday, June 19, from 9-11 a.m. at my RiverPark offices, and Thursday, July 27, from 10 a.m. to noon in my Richards Hall office.

Thank you for all that you do for our students, our community and each other.

Chris Markwood Signature

President Chris Markwood

 


 

April 21, 2017

In this post:

Good afternoon,

This past weekend, I had a delightful conversation with a community member. During the conversation, I was asked, "So are things slowing down at the university at the end of the semester?" Clearly, not everyone understands how as the semester begins to wind down - activity around campus ramps up! Just in the past week or so, we have had groundbreakings and ribbon-cuttings, dinners and concerts, forums, athletic events, receptions and more, on all corners of campus. What a joy to be present at such amazing events. In fact, being able to have a front-row seat at so many exciting things happening around CSU and Columbus is one of the best parts of this job!

I do want to highlight a couple of recent events that stood out to me:

Diversity Forum| My thanks to all those who helped organize the 2017 Diversity Conference and Legacy Celebration at the end of March, and to those who took the time to attend. It was a relevant and thought-provoking event for our campus and for the community as a whole. I think we will see positive reverberations from this effort throughout the year, and I look forward to building on this event in future years.

Diversity Day

Tower Day | I was not able to attend all of the Tower Day events last week, but I was extremely impressed with the caliber of student research on display there. I am a big believer in student research and the benefits it provides to both the student and the institution, and I enjoyed having students explain their research to me. Thank you to the faculty who inspired and supported their work.

Scholastic Honors Convocation | As I said last Friday, this event is one that I look forward to since it honors our best and brightest. A special congratulations goes out to Dr. Edward O’Donnell, associate professor of marketing in CSU’s Turner College of Business, for winning Educator of the Year. We will recognize Dr. O’Donnell and other standout faculty members (to be announced) on Tuesday, May 2 during a new event called the Faculty/Staff Recognition & Excellence Awards. The event will start at 10 a.m. and end with lunch. Please mark your calendars to join us in the Lumpkin Center.

Scholastic Honors Convocation

Tuition and Fees

As you may have heard, the Board of Regents set tuition for the University System of Georgia (USG) for the 2017-2018 academic year. All 28 of the USG’s colleges and universities will keep their tuition increase to two percent.

By keeping the tuition increase to two percent for the 2017-2018 academic year following the zero percent increase for the current year (2016-2017), the University System has been able to limit tuition increases to an average of 2.2 percent annually over the last five years.

The USG continues to offer some of the lowest tuition rates among peer state public higher education systems. Out of the 16 states that make up the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB), the USG has now become the sixth lowest state in tuition and fees for four-year institutions.

At Columbus State, this change means undergraduate tuition will increase by $3.47 from $174.20 per credit hour to $177.67 per credit hour. For in-state students enrolled in 15 hours, the total tuition will increase from $2,613 per semester to $2,665, an increase of $52.

Meanwhile, the Board continues to ensure fees and fee increases are kept to a minimum and used for the benefit of students. The USG has worked with each of the institutions to reduce the number of fee increases, which must demonstrate a clear need. In recent years, the number of approved mandatory fee increases from USG institutions has continued to decrease year-over-year. For example, the number of fee increases dropped from 67 in Fiscal Year 2012 to 12 for the upcoming year, Fiscal Year 2018.

At Columbus State, our review of course fees led to the elimination of fees associated with 103 courses since the start of the 2016-17 academic year.

CSU requested and received an increase in only one mandatory fee. A $10 per-semester increase was approved on the Student Health fee to support expanded services and to provide additional support for the counseling center.

The University System also continues to focus on increasing accessibility through its online offerings. eCore, the USG’s online core curriculum, will decrease tuition to $159 per credit hour from $169.

This process and these numbers underscore some themes that I have mentioned before that must be at the forefront of our plans: enrollment growth, efficiency and affordability. Efficiency and cost savings were at the top of the list of concerns mentioned during the Regents’ meeting this week. I was pleased to report that CSU has helped contribute to these cost-savings efforts. For example, since spring 2015, 20 CSU faculty members used online resources instead of textbooks with an estimated cost avoidance of $458,979 for students.

As for efficiency, I have been asked to serve on a statewide comprehensive administrative review committee for the USG. This is not an indication that anything is wrong – it’s a reflection that the landscape of higher education has changed dramatically over the past decade.

Higher education has undergone fundamental changes in who enrolls and why, how instruction is delivered, and how it is paid for. One thing is certain; higher education will continue to change in the coming years. We must ask ourselves: Are we ready and positioned to best address the challenges and trends of today and those we see ahead of us?

The chancellor said the time is right for the University System to look in the mirror, so we are beginning a comprehensive examination of how the System and its institutions are administered in light of these new realities to help ensure we are fulfilling our mission today and tomorrow. We went through a similar process in Texas, and I can assure you the process will be interesting. I will keep you informed as the process unfolds.

Policies

I have mentioned before that we need to look at our policies on campus - how we develop them, how we communicate them, and how we enforce them. A committee is working on some of those issues now, and we have had extensive conversations on this topic in our Executive Leadership Team meetings. There is still a lot of work to be done in this area, but I expect we will soon be communicating more frequently about policies that have been developed.

Provost Search

Thank you to all who have participated in the interviews and forums with our provost candidates. We are being very diligent about this process because we want the right fit for Columbus State University now and in the future.

We will be wrapping up interviews next week. Your feedback is very important to us in this process. Please take the time to attend a forum or watch videos from the forums that will be available on the search site. The site also has bios, pictures, CVs and a feedback form for each candidate.

Parking

As you might imagine, we have received some feedback and questions about the new parking decal program we will be implementing next fiscal year. A lot of your questions (and answers) have been compiled online at www.ColumbusState.edu/parking.

There are still some issues to be worked out, but we are working diligently to respond to all questions and work out all of the details. By relieving University Police of the responsibility for parking, and by using these decal charges to increase security efforts around campus, our ultimate goal is to make CSU more secure for our faculty, staff, students and guests.

Spring 2017 Commencements

I am looking forward to the newly formatted spring commencement ceremonies that will take place at the Lumpkin Center in a couple of weeks.

  • The ceremony for the College of Education and Health Professions will take place Friday, May 12 at 5 p.m.
  • The ceremony for the College of Letters and Sciences will take place Saturday, May 13 at 10 a.m.
  • The ceremony for the College of the Arts and the College of Business will take place Saturday, May 13 at 3 p.m.
  • Dates for future ceremonies are listed online at graduation.columbusstate.edu.

It will be great to have so many visitors back on our campus. I expect faculty for each college to participate in their ceremony; the day means so much to our graduates and their families.

Diversity Day

My next open office hours are from 9-11 a.m. on Thursday, April 27 in my RiverPark office.

I hope the semester ends smoothly for you all. Thank you for all you do for our students, our community and each other.

Chris Markwood Signature

President Chris Markwood

 


 

March 28, 2017

In this post:

Good afternoon,

Welcome back everyone! I hope you all had a restful or at least a more quiet week -- though things on campus did not appear to slow down much.

While many were on Spring Break, I did not have much down time, since the week included our basketball team’s trip to the Elite Eight, our formal budget meeting in Atlanta and, unfortunately, a nasty stomach bug. I don’t mind saying that I’m actually glad it’s a new week!

Women's Basketball

It was indeed disappointing to watch our very talented 4th-ranked Lady Cougar basketball team’s season come to an end in Ohio with a 78-73 loss to No. 18 Virginia Union in the NCAA Div. II Tournament. However, that loss – only the team’s second of the season – should not overshadow the incredible year for the team and their first-year coach.

basketball team

Since their last game, the team has added to their list of accomplishments. In her first season in a Lady Cougar uniform, junior forward Alexis Carter was named to the Division II Conference Commissioners Association All-American Third Team. And head women's basketball coach Anita Howard was named the John "Whack" Hyder Georgia College Women's Coach of the Year.

We should all be proud of these student-athletes and their coaches for their accomplishments both on and off the court.

State Budget

As you may know, the legislature is winding down their session and will meet only two more times before they adjourn until next year. The only agenda item they are mandated to complete is the budget, and that was accomplished last week. I am very pleased to report that this year’s budget is very good to the University System of Georgia, state employees and to Columbus State University's capital projects

Thanks to our local legislative delegation, the state budget includes $2 million for equipment and furnishings for the LeNoir Hall addition and $500,000 to begin the design and planning of a renovation to the Schwob Memorial Library on main campus. If you see any of our local representatives or senators, please remember to thank them for advocating on our behalf as we sought to solidify these funds. The only step remaining in the budget process is the governor’s signature.

When he signs the budget, we expect it will again include a two percent merit pool to benefit state employees. This is indeed good news that you will hear more about from HR in the coming months.

As the overall state budget gets parsed down to the piece that will come to Columbus State, a team from CSU met in Atlanta last week with the chancellor and several others to go over our priorities. Accompanying me to this meeting was Interim Provost Dr. Tina Butcher, Vice President for Business and Finance Dr. Tom Helton, and Assistant Vice President for Business and Finance Frank Hardymon.

Should any new funding become available, we were able to make the case for several needs here at CSU. Our first priority was critical faculty and staff positions to support our Complete College Georgia goals. We talked about in-demand programs and the need to enhance faculty and advising staffing to shorten the time to degree. We also highlighted our retention efforts, which have led to several years of increased retention rates.

We also talked a lot about creative solutions to reduce education costs for CSU students, the impact of our growing RiverPark campus, leveraging partnerships and recent initiatives to meet enrollment goals, and additional support for student health and safety needs.

Our meeting reminded us once again how closely everyone is monitoring college costs. I am confident that fees, tuition, books and related expenses will continue to be a focus for system administrators, and for legislators. As many of you know, one area receiving particular scrutiny from the system office is our rather large number of course fees. We have done our best to explain and defend each of these fees. We will await the system's determination as to whether they will continue. In the end, we will comply with their decision. I encourage us to begin thinking of creative alternatives and solutions to continue offering the necessary services to students if funding is reduced.

Campus Happenings

Another event I wanted to mention was the grand opening of a new exhibit at the Coca-Cola Space Science Center.

Called “A Space Shuttle Odyssey,” this new interactive space flight adventure takes 27 spectators into space in seats that literally shake. During the 15-minute journey, 10 high-definition displays from the front and above depict the Earth from orbit, the stars, flight data and more. This new exhibit was made possible by a $250,000 gift from WestRock.

Space Shuttle

Some upcoming events that I’m looking forward to attending:

  • Columbus State University’s seventh annual celebration of diversity and inclusion — the 2017 Diversity Forum — on Thursday, March 30. Presented by CSU’s Office of Diversity Programs and Services, the Diversity Forum is a day-long conference and evening banquet that showcases successes in inclusion on CSU’s campus and fosters discussions on a broad range of issues — immigration, race, religion, sexuality, disability, poverty, and cultural competence. I encourage everyone to attend all or part of this event. The Legacy Celebration begins at 6 p.m. in CSU’s Lumpkin Center. The Diversity Conference will be held in CSU’s Cunningham Conference Center from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Kaleidoscope, an annual showcase of our music students that demonstrates the breadth and depth of talent across CSU’s Schwob School of Music., is Saturday, April 1 at 7:30 p.m. at the RiverCenter. Featuring quick performances from large instrumental and vocal ensembles, chamber music and individual performers, Kaleidoscope offers an electrifying variety of repertoire from classical to jazz.
  • On Thursday, April 6 at 5:30 p.m., we will join with CORTA and the City of Columbus for the grand opening of the new tennis facilities at Cooper Creek Park. This new privately-funded facility is now arguably the finest public tennis complex in the South.
  • On Monday, April 10 at 11 a.m., we will have an official groundbreaking to kick off the start of construction on a new lab sciences addition and renovation of LeNoir Hall. This state-of-the-art facility will meet a true need on campus since the research efforts have expanded so much by our students and faculty. We owe great thanks to some private donors and to our state leaders for coming up with the almost $16 million needed for this new addition and renovation. Fencing for the project is going up this week, and next week we’ll lose about 50 parking spaces in Lot 4B to create a construction staging area. Work is scheduled to begin almost immediately and last until August of next year. Please be patient during the construction -- I’m sure the result will be worth the inconvenience!

My next open office hours will be on the RiverPark campus on Monday, April 17 from 9 -11 a.m.

Have a wonderful week, and thank you for all that you do for our students, for our community, and for each other.

Chris Markwood Signature

President Chris Markwood

Minutes from Executive Leadership Team and President's Cabinet meetings

 


 

March 1, 2017

In this post:

Good afternoon,

Let me begin this post with a shout-out to our basketball teams for their amazing seasons. The men ended the regular season tied for first in the conference, and the women won outright, en route to a regular season record of 25-1 and a national top-10 ranking. Over the weekend, both teams won their Peach Belt quarterfinal match-ups and are playing in the semifinals on Saturday.

I had the opportunity last week to be the guest coach with Bridget and Reagan for the women’s last regular season game when CSU crushed Georgia Southwestern. It was a lot of fun to sit on the bench and see the enthusiasm, drive and talent that is exhibited by Coach Anita Howard and our amazing student-athletes. I am not saying Bridget, Reagan and I had much to do with their national ranking, but you never know!

CSU - Georgia Southwestern

State Budgets and Bills

As you know, the legislative session is in full swing right now. There are a number of bills that have been proposed that could have a direct impact on the University System of Georgia and/or Columbus. Please keep yourself updated about what is going on. If you ever feel the need to speak out, please exercise your rights but remember to do so on your own time, utilizing your own resources.

For the university, we’re keeping an eye on the budget and on several pieces of legislation.

The House version of the state budget came out a couple of weeks ago, and it includes two items for CSU: $2 million for equipment and furnishings for the LeNoir lab sciences addition, AND $500,000 for the design and planning of the Schwob library renovation.

Our House delegation, led by Reps. Richard Smith and Calvin Smyre, were instrumental in making these appropriations happen. The budget now goes to the Senate for their consideration. Once a budget is negotiated between the Senate and the House, it will go to Governor Deal for a final signature. We will keep watching the process carefully.

Another item we are watching carefully is this year’s version of the “campus carry” proposal, which would allow those with a legal concealed carry permit to bring concealed weapons onto college campuses. Currently, it is illegal for most anyone to have a weapon on a college campus. The Chancellor has already testified against this bill to a House committee. You can read the Chancellor's full comments here. I fully support the chancellor’s position and am letting my concerns be known.

A second piece of legislation we are monitoring is House Bill 51 by Rep. Earl Ehrhart (R-Powder Springs). The legislation deals with due process and how universities handle reports and investigations of felony crimes. Here at CSU, I am confident in both our administrative processes and our police force, but we will get clear direction from System staff if this legislation passes.

Strategic Plan

The committee working on CSU’s new strategic plan is making great progress. After synthesizing opinions and thoughts from a campus-wide survey and a slew of focus groups, they are now working on updating our vision, mission and strategic priorities. You can keep up-to-date on the plan’s progress here. I look forward to rolling out this plan to campus this fall.

Your Feedback

Thank you all who provided feedback for our inclusion survey. We met all our participation goals by hearing from more than 12 percent of students, more than 51 percent of staff and more than 42 percent of faculty. Our consultant is using the aggregate data from this survey to conduct focus groups. I encourage you to participate in one of the upcoming focus groups.

We now have another survey that needs even greater attention from our first-year and senior students. Responses are being sought for the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE). Results provide valuable insight about undergraduate experiences, including student views about the quality of a CSU education, preparedness for the workforce, level of academic challenge, experiences with faculty, and engagement on campus. Please encourage your first-year and senior undergraduate students to complete the survey by clicking on the link on their MyCSU page under "Announcements" or by clicking the link in the email with the subject title “Columbus State University wants your feedback.”

All survey responses are confidential and anonymous.

Comings and Goings

Finally, we have some reorganizations and some “comings and goings” that are worth noting. As part of a significant reorganization and refocusing of University Advancement, I am very pleased to repeat the announcement that Cameron Bean, a two-time CSU alumnus and the current executive director of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, is coming to CSU to join our University Advancement team as Executive Director of Development.

Cameron will have fundraising and stewardship responsibilities for the College of Arts, Honors College, Libraries and other philanthropic initiatives. He will start April 1 and will work very closely with Rex Whiddon, who has been promoted to a more centralized fundraising and stewardship role as AVP of Leadership Philanthropy and Strategic Initiatives. These moves, coupled with Kim Tucker’s promotion to Director of Stewardship and Donor Relations for Leadership Philanthropy, will strengthen our fundraising acumen and help us greatly as we enter the home stretch of our First Choice campaign.

And, as many of you know, Dr. Neal R. McCrillis is leaving us and going to the University of Illinois at Chicago to be their new Vice Provost for International Affairs. While here at CSU, Dr. McCrillis was the Mildred Miller Fort Foundation Eminent Scholar Chair of International Education and helped develop one of the most respected programs of international education in the nation. Through the generosity of the Mildred Miller Fort Foundation and Dr. McCrillis' vision for a globally engaged campus, CSU has a solid foundation for its international programs. This includes our own house in Oxford, England, study abroad programs in many of our academic departments, scores of exchange and partnership agreements with international universities, and a new three-week January term which will provide additional study abroad opportunities for our students.

Dr. Neal McCrillis

Dr. Becky Becker has graciously agreed to serve as Interim Executive Director of the Center for International Education. She has served as Assistant Director under Dr. McCrillis' leadership for two years and as the International Studies Certificate Coordinator.

Open Office Hours

My next open office hours will be Monday, March 13 from 3-5 p.m. in my main campus office in Richards Hall.

Thank you for all that you do for our students, our community and each other.

Chris Markwood Signature

President Chris Markwood

Minutes from Executive Leadership Team and President's Cabinet meetings

 


 

February 3, 2017

In this post:

Good afternoon,

First, I want thank everyone for your notes of inquiry and concern, your thoughts, and prayers regarding my recent foot surgery, and a special thank you for your patience as I scoot around campus (and Atlanta!) on my new one-legged scooter.

The President

The surgery did go well and the recovery is progressing, and I should be able to put pressure on my foot and walk upright again in a few weeks.

It has been an eventful few weeks. As you know, recent regulatory and policy changes impacting international travel and visa holders have resulted in a significant amount of conversation and questions among University System students, faculty and staff.

Here at Columbus State University, let me first reiterate that the safety and well-being of all CSU family members is always our top priority. We also value the internationalization of our academic ventures, empowering people to understand the world around them, so they can contribute to the advancement of our local and global communities.

Remember that inclusion is one of our values, and I believe that applies to nationality, cultural identity, age, gender identity or expression, physical ability, political ideology, racial and ethnic identity, religious and spiritual identity, sexual orientation, and social and economic status. Please remain respectful as we cultivate a campus where ideas can be freely exchanged so that learning can flourish.

Academic Affairs, Student Affairs, International Education and my office have been in coordination with the system office on this issue. Currently, we have no faculty or staff with permanent residency or employment-related visas from the countries named in the president’s executive order. We have one student from one of the identified countries already here on a degree-seeking visa. So, we do not think there will be any impact here at CSU at this time from the federal government’s recent actions. We have communicated with all of our international students, assuring them they are valued here and asking them to contact the Center for International Education with any concerns or questions.

Inclusion Survey

I am thankful to the many of you who have already completed the Inclusion Survey. I really appreciate your efforts to share your ideas and opinions on this important initiative. If you have not yet completed the survey, please do so as soon as possible, and please encourage your students to do so as well. The deadline to complete the survey is Feb. 10. Please note: Your responses on this survey are completely confidential and will inform future strategic initiatives in our new strategic plan.

Click here to go directly to the surve

Inclusion Starts With I

I would like to strongly encourage your participation because your perspective is critical in order for us to have an accurate picture of our campus environment. My hope is that through this survey we can move one step closer to addressing areas of improvement on our campus to create a more diverse and inclusive environment for our students, faculty and staff.

Please contact the Office of Diversity Programs and Services at 706-507-8590 if you have any questions regarding the survey.

Some updates

  • We had a wonderful day in Atlanta Wednesday, partnering with the Greater Columbus Georgia Chamber of Commerce for Columbus Day at the Capitol. With the mayor and several other community leaders, I met with Chancellor Wrigley and attended a reception that attracted many of Georgia's leaders, including the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, and all our local legislative delegation. A group of students also attended the reception and was able to talk beforehand with several of our local legislators.
  • We are working now on implementing a new academic calendar for 2018. It will allow us to have a new January mini-mester that will work very similar to what we all know as the current Maymester. We need to make sure all corners of campus are ready for the new schedule. Please look for that calendar to be uploaded soon to academics.columbusstate.edu/calendars.
  • A new policies and procedures task force is beginning its work. Their work will take some time as we’re trying to centralize all of our policies onto one website (on the University Counsel’s site) and make sure they are updated. Look for more information on this in coming months. The task force will be co-chaired by Glenn Stokes and Greg Blalock.
  • The search for our next provost is again under way. We have tweaked the job description a bit, hoping to attract candidates who have more university-wide experience. This was the biggest feedback we received last semester.

Campus moves

Now that we have officially opened Frank D. Brown Hall, most of Jordan and Illges halls have been vacated. That has led to several questions about who is moving into those spaces. Here’s what is currently being planned:

  • University Support Services will be moving to the basement area of Illges Hall. One of the reasons behind this move is to establish a new parking office. We are restructuring how we handle parking administration and enforcement on campus, moving the responsibility for these efforts from University Police to auxiliary services. This will allow University Police to focus on campus safety and security. You will hear more details about this change in the coming months. We are preparing for full implementation for the fall semester.
  • A new lab for the TSYS Center for Cybersecurity is now under construction in the Center for Commerce and Technology, where the main computer lab was once located. Those computers, as well as the HelpDesk and repair shop, have now moved to the main library.
  • Some of the science offices have moved to Jordan Hall to prepare for the renovation and addition at LeNoir Hall.
  • Faculty Office Building 209 will be the new site of First-Year Experience offices.
  • UTeach offices will consolidate into the bottom floor of Jordan Hall.

Any requests for further office moves should be approved through your chain of command and brought to the Executive Leadership Team by your division vice president.

Carson at 100

You may have heard that we are part of a big celebration later this month of the birthday centennial of Carson McCullers, the noted author who was born in Columbus.

Carson at 100: The McCullers Centennial will include several activities this month, highlighted by an event on Feb. 19 that will include actress Karen Allen, who has appeared in films such as “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “The Sandlot,” “Scrooged” and “Animal House.” Allen is a devoted McCullers fan and will use her Columbus visit as the occasion to unveil the first movie she has ever directed, a short film based on the McCullers story “A Tree. A Rock. A Cloud.”

Carson at 100: The McCullers Centennial

The event will begin at 4 p.m. (Feb. 19) in the RiverCenter for the Performing Arts. Karen will then be on campus the next day at noon in University Hall for the keynote address that ends our common reading for first-year students. This year they read McCullers’ “The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter.”

For more information, check out our new Carson McCullers Center website at www.mccullerscenter.org.

Columbus State Gear

I have been so pleased with the reception to our Spirit Fridays. Hopefully you and your office and department are enjoying showing your spirit, and it has become commonplace now.

Our athletic department has just unveiled a new website that will make Spirit Fridays easier than ever. The Columbus State University Athletics has partnered with Advanced-Online to launch ColumbusStateGear.com, an online store will allow Cougar fans, students and alumni to purchase the latest gear from brands such as Adidas, Columbia and Under Armour. Items include t-shirts, jackets, hats and much more.

The Official Online Store Grand Opening!

Open office hours

My next open office hours will be on the RiverPark campus on Monday, Feb. 13 from 9 -11 a.m.

February is such a wonderful month. The weather starts to warm up, and many people celebrate those special to us on Valentine's Day, enjoy great food and fun for Mardi Gras, or recognize the importance of Maha Shivararatri. We celebrate Black History Month and remember Susan B. Anthony's birthday, Rosa Parks Day, and President's Day. As we continue through a busy semester, during times of change, please make extra efforts to remain connected to and supportive of each other as a CSU family and celebrating what we do here.

Thank you for all that you do for our students, our community and each other.

Chris Markwood Signature

President Chris Markwood

Minutes from Executive Leadership Team and President's Cabinet meetings

 


 

January 18, 2017

In this post:

Good afternoon, and welcome to a new semester!

At the Capitol

As you may know, our classes started on the same day that state legislators started their new session. I spent quite a bit of time in Atlanta this past week meeting with some key lawmakers, visiting the Capitol, talking with all of our local representatives and senators, chairs of House and Senate higher education committees, and the Speaker of the House. I also attended the Board of Regents meeting and met with officials from the Columbus Chamber of Commerce and some of their most prominent supporters.

It was a great few days of listening and learning from some of the state’s top leaders. Here are some things that I heard that I thought might interest you:

  • Our elected officials are continuing to look for more affordability and transparency in higher education. We need to continue to look for ways to save money and explain our value to the workforce and local populations. Higher education is being scrutinized in just about every way you can imagine.
  • Transportation and health care will continue to play significant roles in budget discussions this year, with a lot of unknowns as a new president and key leaders are about to move into Washington D.C. offices.
  • The new chancellor has hit the ground running with the announcement of two new consolidations in the University System of Georgia: Armstrong State University will become part of Georgia Southern University, and Bainbridge College will become part of Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College. There is no reason to believe that CSU is being considered in any such discussion.

State Budget

Another development this week in Atlanta was the release of the governor’s recommended budget. It will be amended and approved by the Legislature before going back to the Governor for his final signature. Some highlights from the proposed budget:

  • A pool of money, equivalent to 2 percent, is proposed for retention and merit increases.
  • $2 million for furnishings and equipment will go into the new lab sciences building being planned as an addition onto LeNoir Hall. This was a critical piece of funding for us to complete this project, and we owe thanks to the governor and our local legislative delegation for their support of this funding.

LeNoir Hall

  • A state-funded center for cybersecurity education, training and development. This will augment the Army’s cyber command headquarters and National Security Agency (NSA) facilities at Fort Gordon in Augusta. Although the new Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center also will be located in Augusta, this announcement presents a real opportunity for CSU to have an even higher profile in the state with our burgeoning TSYS Center for Cybersecurity.
  • Unfortunately, the Governor’s proposed budget did not include funding to begin planning and designing a renovation of the main campus library. There are still opportunities to have that added before the budget is finalized. We are working with a very supportive local delegation to see what can be done. I will keep you updated.

Frank D. Brown Hall

We hosted a wonderful grand opening celebration earlier this month for Frank D. Brown Hall. We had a packed house for the event, despite the awful weather, and I think Dr. Brown was truly awed by the entire experience. If you have not yet seen that beautiful building, I encourage you to take a look.

To get to Brown Hall from main campus, please take advantage of the CSU shuttle, running from main campus to RiverPark campus on a regular basis. If you do drive, please park in the RiverCenter parking deck, which is now free, or on the top three floors of the Front Avenue parking garage, which are reserved for CSU. Please avoid taking up spaces on the streets downtown. Anyone parking on the street is subject to city enforcement rules and fines.

One of the speakers at the Brown Hall dedication was Kessel Stelling, CEO of Synovus and one of our regents. It was so fitting that he was there, because Synovus recently extended its investment in Columbus State University by participating in the university’s First Choice Campaign and providing long-term support to various programs, including business and leadership development. Synovus’ multi-year commitment to the university will support CSU’s Turner College of Business, the Jim Blanchard Leadership Forum, and the new tennis complex at Cooper Creek Park. Synovus’ contributions also supported the construction of Frank D. Brown Hall.

Frank D. Brown Hall Grand Opening

Finally, I should let you know that I will be out of pocket starting later this week. I’m having surgery on my foot to help with some pain I have been experiencing for a while. I have to stay off it completely for several weeks. Fortunately, technology will allow me to stay in touch. Interim Provost Tina Butcher will serve as the acting Officer in Charge for routine matters from at least Jan. 19 through Jan. 23.

I wish you all a wonderful semester, and thank you for all that you do for our students, our community and each other.

Chris Markwood Signature

President Chris Markwood

Minutes from Executive Leadership Team and President's Cabinet meetings

 


 

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