ALBANY, GA (WALB) - New improvements could be coming to Albany State University. A transition team from the University Systems of Georgia began work at the university this week.
When a president leaves a university within the University System of Georgia, the university system typically goes to the school for about two weeks for a management review.
In this instance, the transition team will do more than a two week review, in part because of all the changes that the university has experienced in the last year during the merge with Darton State College.
Board of Regents Chancellor Wrigley wants the transition team to review and take necessary steps to ensure a smooth transition for a new president and set the university up for a strong future.
Marion Fedrick has been appointed as interim executive vice president of ASU.
She will spend the next three months in Albany, leading the transition team.
"I've been very excited about being in Albany," Fedrick said in a sit-down interview with WALB. She said she has had a warm welcome from the Albany State University team.
The transitional team is made up of people from other universities part of the University System of Georgia.
"We're bringing on a host of people who have already shown that they know how to get things done and get them done relatively quickly," explained Fedrick.
The other people on her team are:
- Maritza E. Ferreira, assistant vice president of marketing and communications, Clayton State University
- Tracy Ireland, associate vice chancellor for student enrollment services, University System of Georgia
- Patrice Buckner Jackson, dean of students, Georgia Southern University
- Juan Jarrett, associate vice president for human resources, University of Georgia
- Kenyatta Johnson, executive director for enterprise risk management, University System of Georgia
- Scot Lingrell, vice president of student affairs and enrollment management, University of West Georgia
- Rich Loftus, associate vice chancellor for student enrollment services, University System of Georgia
- Richard Oates, vice president, University of North Georgia - Gainesville campus
- Marti Venn, deputy vice chancellor for academic affairs, University System of Georgia
Members of Albany State University will also serve on the team. Those people will be announced next week.
The team has identified five main areas where they believe improvements can be made at the university.
Those areas are:
- student experience
- human resources
- enrollment management
In the academics area, Fedrick said the team is going to look at the programs offered. She said the school wants to create programs that will set students up for a bright future in Southwest Georgia.
"One of the big focuses is actually looking at the workforce for Southwest Georgia and making sure what we are offering kind of matches to that workforce," explained Fedrick.
During her time at ASU in the past week, Fedrick said she met with a number of students at the university. She said she's spoken to them about their experiences at the university and how those experiences could be improved.
As far as the human resource department, Fedrick said the team will likely re-build that department. She said when the departments combined under the consolidated, they were already short-staffed.
Fedrick said the largest improvement areas are in communications and enrollment management.
She said enrollment management has a lot of subcategories.
"Enrollment management is not just the enrollment part. It is from recruitment to advisement to enrollment, the student affairs area. So it's a pretty broad bucket. It's all about the student experience, how we get them in here and most importantly how we get them out," said Fedrick.
That includes financial aid, an area where students have expressed frustrations within the past several years.
"Here's the challenge with that," said Fedrick. "Our current financial aid process is so focused on being right from a compliance standpoint. So what we are doing in that area now is probably what we should have been doing, three, four, five years ago."
Fedrick said the financial aid department is doing the right things now, but the university has to get all the departments on board with financial aid.
Which that brings communication.
"We have consistently heard about communications and the struggle with communications. So we want to make sure that we have that right," said Fedrick.
Fedrick hopes to improve communications with students and staff as well as with the community.
She said the team is looking at implementing year-long comprehensive communication plans.
"We've heard from our faculty, staff and students about that lack of communication, or maybe it not as effective as they would like to see," explained Fedrick. "So we're focusing there."
The team will be setting up a web page dedicated to the transition effort and updates on those efforts.
The improvements will take time, but Fedrick said the team that was chosen was strategically picked because they have proved they can get things done quickly.
Dr. Dunning is set to retire in January.
Fedrick said she doesn't know how soon a new president will be chosen. She said they want to see how the transition team does before choosing someone to lead the school in the future.
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