Action Plan for the University Strategic Plan



University Strategic Plan (2000-2005)


Mission | The Strategic Planning Process | Environmental Changes: 1995-2005


The overarching goal of Georgia State University is to become one of the nation’s premiere research universities located in an urban setting. The University will achieve this goal through the continual pursuit of excellence in its instructional and strategic research programs. Georgia State will strive to fulfill the expectations of the citizens of Georgia by providing undergraduate and graduate programs of the highest quality in the arts and sciences, business, education, health and human sciences, law, and policy studies for traditional and non-traditional students.

Georgia State University’s mission as a research university in an urban setting is multi-faceted:

  • Georgia State is committed to the enhancement of its interdisciplinary research programs and centers that have achieved national and international recognition.
  • The University, which has the most diverse student population in the University System of Georgia, is dedicated to undergraduate programs based on a core curriculum that promotes interdisciplinary, intercultural, and international perspectives that provide options that emphasize an urban focus.
  • In addition to its primary mission of promoting the intellectual development of its students, the University's majors and graduate programs contribute to the economic, educational, social, professional, and cultural vitality of the city, the state, and the region in the following ways:
    • Through its partnership with the Georgia Research Alliance in biotechnology, telecommunications, and environmental studies, the University assists in economic development in the state.
    • Through close collaboration with the business and legal community and programmatic and research efforts in e-commerce, the Robinson College of Business and the College of Law enhance the economic development of the state.
    • Through a close collaboration between the professional education faculties in the College of Education and the College of Arts and Sciences and partner schools in the Atlanta metropolitan area, the University develops strategies for public education reform and models for K-12 learning.
    • Through the basic and applied research of its social science and professional faculties, through the research and service of its students, and through problem solving in community outreach between these groups and community constituencies, the University addresses business and economic issues, social and human welfare issues, especially those of urban settings, and promotes continuing innovation.
    • Through its programs in the fine arts and humanities, Georgia State contributes to the artistic and cultural vitality of the region and assists metropolitan Atlanta in achieving its aspiration to become an increasingly important international city.

The following strategic plan for 2000-2005 outlines a program for fulfilling Georgia State University’s mission.

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The Strategic Planning Process

The provost convened three groups during Fall 1999 to discuss a series of questions that probe the current and projected environmental scan and test the current high priority areas in light of probable conditions to see if we should add or delete from our current priorities. The three groups were 1) academic group of 22 faculty; 2) collegial group of 22 chairs and associate deans; and 3) administrative group of 20 members – the Deans Group supplemented with representatives from the vice-presidential areas. Each draft version of the plan was posted on the web so that the community could comment as the plan was being developed. The Strategic Planning Subcommittee of the Senate Planning & Development (P&D) Committee subsequently discussed the plan in Winter 2000. The subcommittee had representation from various other senate committees and the colleges so that the community had significant opportunity for input and comment. A draft document was approved by P&D and sent to the University Senate for approval.

Significant progress has been made on the 1995 Strategic Plan. Annual Action Plans and updates on progress are posted. With regard to strengthening academic programs, an important tangible indicator was continued solidification of external grant and contract support. Grant and contract support for scholarship at Georgia State has been increasing at 15% per year. The University System recognized Georgia State as one of its four research universities in 1996 and the goal from the 1995 Strategic Plan of qualifying for Carnegie Research II classification was surpassed in FY 1997. This goal attainment was aided by opportunities provided by the Georgia Research Alliance. A university-wide core curriculum that gives attention to multicultural and interdisciplinary learning was developed and implemented upon conversion from the quarter system to the semester system in Fall 1998. A Center for Teaching and Learning was established in 1996 as a resource for faculty and graduate teaching assistants who wish to elicit student discovery and construction of knowledge, enhance their teaching skills, and increase their use of technology in teaching and learning practice. In addition, faculty associated with the Center are involved in the scholarship of teaching and evaluation of university teaching. A university-wide writing across the curriculum was implemented and is being expanded to communication across the curriculum. New academic programs include a Ph.D. in Communication Studies, a joint Ph.D. in public policy with Georgia Tech, a BA in African American Studies, an MA in Women’s Studies, and a BA and Masters of International Business degree in Foreign Languages and International Business.

The university continues to invest in areas of academic distinctiveness. Significant progress has been made in the interdisciplinary sciences. The areas of biotechnology and drug design have been targeted by the State, through the Georgia Research Alliance, for enhancing economic development. Two Eminent Scholar chairs have been established and close collaborative efforts with biotechnology start-up firms have been developed through our incubator facility. Areas of brain sciences and health and of neural communication and computation have recently been recognized through the award of a national neuroscience and education center, the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience. This center, a collaborative effort with Emory and other universities in Atlanta, is one of five national centers that were established in 1999 by the National Science Foundation. Environmental challenges that threaten the continued economic prosperity of the State and the health of its citizens are being addressed by efforts of faculty throughout the University. A School of Policy Studies was created in 1996 (and named in 1999 for Andrew Young) to provide an organizational structure to house and coordinate institutional policy-focused efforts. The new School, together with the move to university-level of the Gerontology Center, the Center for Sports Medicine, Science, and Technology, and the Women Studies Institute, represent initiatives to foster interdisciplinary collaboration. Faculty in arts and sciences and education are working with P-12 educators and members of the business community toward "Co-Reform" of teacher preparation programs and the schools in which our graduates work, stressing better understanding of disciplinary content, the effective implementation of induction programs, staff development, and Partner Schools. In telecommunication, a premise of the Georgia Research Alliance is that technological development must be accompanied by a matching effort in the content to be communicated. With this goal in mind, the Digital Arts and Entertainment Laboratory, an interdisciplinary laboratory that involves faculty from Communication, Computer Science, and Graphic Design, was developed. Continued investment in these and other interdisciplinary research programs are discussed later.

Great strides have been made in the international arena. Since 1995 the university and several colleges have added positions to advance programs in countries around the world. Many of these are included in the International Programs web site. Since 1998, a joint MBA program has been established with Cairo University. The Robinson College of Business is also working with selected universities in Cote d'Ivoire, Azerbaijan, Poland, and South Africa on various business and entrepreneurship programs. The College of Arts and Sciences has established collaborative biotechnology initiatives with a number of institutions in Egypt that are being extended to Israel and Jordan. Its faculty have conducted professional media training in a number of Middle Eastern countries. Work to establish a graduate school for West Africa in Cote d’Ivoire is ongoing, although a coup d'etat in December 1999 will cause this initiative to be reassessed. The College of Education is involved with universities in Botswana, Cote d'Ivoire, Egypt, and in a European consortium. The Young School of Policy Studies is very active in southern Africa in environmental economics and programs for the disabled as well as in tax and fiscal policy initiatives in numerous countries. They have an active program of campus short courses that have been sponsored by international agencies and home countries, including Russia, China, Jamaica, the Czech Republic, Ukraine and Palestine. The School also is attracting graduate students for study in economics under Muskie and Mandela fellowships. The College of Law has a significant exchange program with a university in Austria on comparative civil and common law. The College of Health and Human Sciences has involvement with some former Soviet states, Cote d'Ivoire, and Israel. At the undergraduate level, the University utilized semester conversion to internationalize the core curriculum. An international undergraduate presence provides every Georgia State student with daily opportunities to interact with students from other countries in their classes and in extracurricular activities.

In terms of promoting standards for excellence, assessment of student learning outcomes is receiving more focus through academic program review and via a cross disciplinary team effort to establish General Education learning outcomes. A Student Advisement Center has been set up to provide all new students a centralized point of contact for academic advice. Students in academic difficulty are being aided through an Academic Improvement Program. The Senate adopted policies pertaining to criteria for graduate faculty status and to faculty workload expectations under a semester system. An electronic Faculty Handbook was developed and is available on the web.

Efforts toward improving the university infrastructure are proceeding with the design of a new classroom building and purchase of a site in Fairlie Poplar. The availability of additional classrooms will help to improve the quality of instructional space throughout the campus and to add much needed study and meeting spaces. The Board of Regents accepted a Master Plan in January 1999. Administrative and support unit assessment is underway with reviews of the Provost offices and Human Resources. These assessments should contribute meaningfully to development of systematic approaches to institutional decision-making and to systematic improvement of institutional services. Strategic plans for international programs, Pullen Library and Information Systems & Technology have been developed and approved by the University Senate. A backbone information network, initiated in FY 97, will be completed in FY 02. This network affords high-speed access to global information resources as well as rapid local communication. The network also delivers the statewide Virtual Library resources and services, GALILEO and GIL, which have substantially increased the quality and quantity of information resources available to Georgia State University students, staff, and faculty.

Administrative and academic program reviews are two of the ways in which Georgia State is responding to a climate of increased accountability. The university is playing a leadership role within the University System of Georgia. A faculty development-oriented post-tenure review model was implemented at Georgia State in Spring 1995 and the System adopted the model in Fall 1997. Georgia State has been selected as one of nine universities to be included as a case study in an AAHE New Pathways II project. Our academic program review model was featured by the System in Fall 1999 and the System is requiring all colleges and universities to have a regular academic program review process by Fall 2000. Similarly, leadership in development of workload policies and their integration with other policies has received recognition through invited presentations at national meetings and, in June 2000, with the selection of the College of Arts and Sciences as one of 19 finalists for American Council on Education's award for Academic Excellence and Cost Management.

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Environmental Changes: 1995-2005

Georgia State University is in the midst of a major change in the composition of its undergraduate student body. In 1995 the university admitted approximately 1,200 first-time freshmen, all commuters, half of whom were in learning support, and whose average SAT score was 1000 for regularly admitted students. There were no residence halls and no HOPE scholarships paying tuition and fees for students with a high school average of at least B and who maintain a B average in college. The transformation of the undergraduate student body is being driven by a University System of Georgia articulation of entrance requirements that are highest at the four research universities and are to be fully implemented in Fall 2001. For Fall 1999, we have enrolled 1800 first-time freshmen, four of five of whom are supported with the HOPE scholarship, half of whom live in residence halls, only a handful of whom are on learning support, and whose average SAT is 1046.

Competition for highly qualified undergraduates is rampant and taking on new forms. With higher freshman entrance requirements for regular admission of at least 20 Carnegie Units in academic courses and a minimum Freshman Index (SAT + 500*HSGPA) of 2500, Georgia State will need to be competitive for the better high school graduates in the state. In addition, there is potentially increased competition for non-traditional students as the University System develops eCore, the Core curriculum delivered through on-line courses. This initiative is part of GLOBE - Georgia Learning On-line for Business and Education. Simultaneously, there will be increased competition for Masters level students, especially in business and education, as more providers enter the Atlanta market both physically and through the electronic media. One of the great challenges of the next five years will be the appropriateness of and extent to which we are willing and able to provide any time, any-place quality education with a much greater emphasis on reliable support services for students and faculty.

Standards-based education in K-12 schools represents a powerful option for school reform due to erosion of the Carnegie Unit and the common curriculum as well as significant variation in current grading practices. Numerous local school districts are adopting standards and, as a result, many students will soon be entering college expecting a standards-based approach to their courses and curricula. In addition, there is growing resistance nationally to the use of SAT in admission decisions. The traditional system of course credits and grade-point-averages does not guarantee that transfer students bring sufficient understanding of a subject.

Georgia State is adjusting to the conversion from a quarter calendar to a semester one that occurred in Fall 1998. This conversion caused a significant reduction in the number of student credit hours generated as well as shifts in where credit hours are being generated. In particular, students signed up for one fewer credit per semester on average. Part-time students, who in Fall 99 comprise approximately 45 percent of the student body, have particular difficulty in scheduling more than two courses per semester.

There has been a shift in faculty composition, especially in those responsible for core courses. With a rapid increase in the number of freshmen students, the use of part-time instructors (PTIs) in core courses increased dramatically from FY 97 to FY 99. This trend was reversed in FY 00 when a large number of PTI positions were converted to non-tenure track (NTT) positions - visiting instructors and visiting lecturers. This conversion is an interim step until we achieve stable enrollments. For Fall 99, PTIs taught 9.7 percent of credit hours compared with 17.7 percent in Fall 98. The percentage of credit hours taught by full-time faculty increased from 62% in Fall 95 to 71% in Fall 99.

Funding trends have been very positive over the past five years, especially for faculty and staff salaries that have had average annual raises of 5.5 percent. The total budget of the university has risen from $235.8 million in FY 96 to $383.0 million in FY 00; the General Operations budget has increased from $188.7 million to $267.2 million, a 41.6% increase, in the same time period. Over this same period, the rate of inflation was about 12 percent; therefore the University budget grew in real terms by about 30 percent. Support for academic programs and faculty and staff salaries increased dramatically. The goal of the 1995 strategic plan to redirect monies so that the proportion of the budget allocated to academic programs would increase was only marginally realized. Tuition growth has to remain an important goal, first to return to the credit-hour generation before semester conversion, and second to increase both the number of students and average number of credit hours that they take per term. Before full recovery from conversion from a quarter calendar to a semester calendar, there will be a challenge to maintain enrollments and credit hours (and hence tuition dollars) after the higher 2001 admission requirements are implemented.

Private giving is increasingly important for publicly assisted universities. A comprehensive campaign with a goal of $75 million is underway with a scheduled completion date of December 2000. As of December 31, 1999, over $70 million has been received or pledged. Private support has become necessary to secure state funding to support the academic mission of the University for buildings. Private support is also crucial for scholarships and fellowships to attract and retain excellent undergraduate and graduate students. Similarly, to recruit and retain high quality faculty, it is increasingly important to have endowed professorships and chairs.

Higher education is facing a number of major trends including an emerging global economy that will give rise to a global community characterized by increased communications across national borders in education as well as in business, law, government, sciences, the arts, and entertainment. There has been an enormous increase in foreign investment in Georgia. One in seven jobs in the U.S. involve international trade and business.

Technology will penetrate even deeper into our daily lives. Information increasingly will become the capital of economic activity. The ability to locate, receive, analyze, and transmit information in oral, written, and numeric form will be crucial. The rate of change will accelerate. Those who have learned how to learn are best equipped to capitalize on such an environment. The Internet is unlike other technology advances, and is even more important than the introduction of personal computers. As Business Week stated in their special issue (Oct. 4, 1999) on The Internet Age: "The power to navigate the world at the click of a mouse is a force that is transforming our lives like none before." In the next five years most of our students will have high-speed access to the Internet and we need to explicitly factor that into our strategic planning. Soon we will be enrolling the first generation of students to take the Internet for granted. These students will never have known a world without computers. This situation offers both a great competitive threat and a great potential asset.

Another major trend is increasing demand for accountability on higher education. This is manifested nationally, with many states moving to performance-based budgeting. Regional accreditation agencies and major disciplinary accreditation organizations such as AACSB and NCATE are placing significant emphasis on student learning outcomes and use of data gathered to improve processes and outcomes.

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