STATESBORO, Ga. (WTOC) - The fall semester began Monday at all three of Georgia Southern’s campuses.
Students moved in last week, making the population of Statesboro surge. Room is a bit tighter this year due to two first-year dorms being closed right now.
University leaders say they want new students to live on campus to build the bonds that keep them engaged.
“Now, it’s ‘this is real. here you are.’ The journey begins. We’re the partner along that way to obtain the transformational power of education,” said Dr. Kyle Marrero, Georgia Southern University President.
Dr. Marrero and GUS the Eagle rode a golf cart around campus all day Monday to help encourage students.
The university’s new leadership says they’re looking at different ways they can grow their enrollment.
A dip in enrollment cost the university some per-student funding from the state.
“I know my department took a little bit of a budget hit, but I know we still pushed through strong. It’s been good," said GSU Sophomore, Christopher Blanton.
Dr. Marrero says they’ve been working to market the university to attract new students.
“So, it’s not just first-time in college freshmen. It’s dual enrollment students coming from high school. We’re up there. Transfer students, our numbers are up on transfers. Non-traditional, our numbers are good there too,” Marrero said.
They also face the challenge of uniting three campuses. They now have a shuttle bus service running between Statesboro and Armstrong campuses.
“It allows faculty and the staff the chance to ride the bus, work on their computers. Students as well can work on assignments and not have to make the drive themselves,” said Eddie Mills, Assoc. V.P.
It’s all part of a plan to draw more students and keep them until they graduate.
Believe it or not, some on Statesboro’s campus already have their minds on graduation this December. Seniors and others are waiting to see how the new administration will change commencement ceremonies. The university reworked graduation ceremonies in May to structure them by major instead of by campus. That means some students who took all their classes in Savannah had to travel to Statesboro and vice versa to get their diploma.
Dr. Marrero says they’ve studied ways to fix this, and they have a tentative plan in place.
“At the center of it is experience; experience for our students. It’s all about them; their opportunity, their celebration of alumni and opportunity,” he said.
Dr. Marrero says they’ll present the plan to student government leaders this weekend to get their input before they make it public.
On Friday, university athletics will host Savannah Fan Fest with meet and greets for the football team.
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