Meeting held in Savannah to discuss University System of Georgia’s strategic plan

Meeting held in Savannah to discuss University System of Georgia’s strategic plan

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - A Georgia Senate bill proposed in April was met with fiery opposition and quietly went away. It suggested that three Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the state of Georgia gain their own board and step away from the Board of Regents.

A strategic planning meeting for the University Systems of Georgia was held Thursday night, and the idea was not on the table for discussion.

One of the goals for USG is affordability, but they did not address any consolidations to do that.

In the next four years, USG wants to hit on four goals: academic success, affordability, workforce readiness, and community involvement. Savannah State alumni and former Savannah mayor, Edna Jackson, agreed.

“I’m talking about the ones who have kids there; the ones who have graduated, to see how we fit into this long range plan," she said.

Back in April, Senate Bill 278 suggested that Savannah State, Albany State, and Fort Valley State create their own board away from the Board of Regents. State Senator Lester Jackson is a sponsor on the bill. He said conversations are still happening every day.

Savannah State Interim President Kimberly Ballard-Washington had a different response.

“I cannot address that, but I will say that was not something being put forth by the University Systems of Georgia," Ballard-Washington said.

Senator Jackson told WTOC consolidating the three schools into a new state system would give HBCU’s in Georgia more of a say on issues impacting their schools. Community stakeholders agreed they want their voices heard, but they do not want to separate from the USG.

“I don’t think we need to be separated in any way,” Edna Jackson said. “We are a part of the state of Georgia. we are a part of the University Systems of Georgia. We just have to have our voices heard within the system and try and effect change within the system.”

Senator Lester Jackson says they are working on discussions with more people, and he plans to have this reintroduced in legislative session 2020.

This was one of five forums held in Savannah to give the public an opportunity to weigh in on the systems new strategic plan.

The purpose of these forums is to increase degree completion through high quality and lifelong academic options, ensure affordability for students by containing costs and optimizing efficiency across the system, and to ensure that instruction equips students with the knowledge, marketable skills, and experience to meet workforce and community needs of our diverse and complex state.

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