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President Carvajal speaks at October senate meeting

VSU President Richard Carvajal spoke at the VSU faculty senate meeting on Oct. 19 to discuss the university’s current issues, improvements it has seen, and goals it wishes to accomplish.

A main concern has been the enrollment rates that the university has experienced. COVID-19 played a significant role in the decrease of college students state-wide, and VSU was no exception.

There was a census that each Georgia university had to participate in on Friday, Oct. 13. VSU showed an improvement in overall enrollment.

“We were down this fall over last fall by about fifty students, that was 0.5% again as compared to last year,” said Dr. Carvajal.

This is an improvement compared to years past, when enrollment had a significant decline.

“We budgeted based upon the enrollment projections that had come out of institutional research last spring,” said Dr. Carvajal. “They had projected this fall the most likely scenario was that we would be down 4.4% this fall.”

The senate discussed the different outreach programs that the University would like to offer to engage students and retain the ones that it already has.

The main categories of outreach are focused on graduate students, online students, and traditional undergraduates.

Traditional undergraduate students face the lowest enrollment out of the three.

“Traditional undergrads will probably continue to be a challenging group,” said Dr. Carvajal. “This is one area that in particular folks have struggled to accept that maybe decline is what is most likely.”

An area of interest that is being looked into is to make face-to-face classes more engaging in order for students to choose in-person classes instead of being completely virtual.

“That face-to-face experience must be distinctive in order for it to be chosen,” said Dr. Carvajal.

With the increase of students now deciding to do school completely online, the President emphasized the need to accommodate these changes.

Graduate students look to be the category of students with the most potential.

“Graduate definitely appears to be primed for solid growth, but we very much understand that it will take investments for that growth to materialize,” said Dr. Carvajal. “For instance, faculty and programs where we would see growth very much potential.”

As enrollment continues to see changes, the Senate and president ensure the faculty that they are looking into changes and advancements that they can make to increase the size of the student body.

A new Fine Arts building continues to face issues with being built. An unexpected change in price was said after an evaluation from an office.

“One of the offices in Atlanta that helps govern these projects has decided to recode our project,” said Dr. Carvajal. “That recode means that we need a new kind of steel that needs to be fire-proofed in a different way.”

This recoding has led to an increase of five million dollars. The board of regents added Valdosta State to their capital request list for the governor’s office.

“Specifically, to allow us to have five million dollars to renovate the fine arts building,” said Dr. Carvajal.

The five million dollars must be used for the Fine Arts project and not in another area of the school.

Dr. Sharon Gravett, assistant Vice President spoke about the new refresh that was made to the common core curriculum throughout the university system of Georgia.

“The core is still going to feature 42 general education hours from what used to be the areas A through E. 18 hours in the courses appropriate to the major,” said Dr. Gravett. “We have gone away from what they called the areas and we moved into a new mnemonic that is called IMPACTS, and each of those stands for some of the areas that we have had in the past.”

The new refresh is a repackaging, according to Dr. Gravett. The curriculum will be the same but syllabi will now have added material to help students better understand the use of the classes they take and how it affects their day-to-day lives.

“A new syllabus statement should be included for all core curriculum courses,” said Dr. Gravett. “It will give them a broad general education outcome, the orienting question, and the career competencies.”

The new refresh is meant to introduce a helpful understanding both for faculty and students.

Dr. Gravett said, “They’re trying to give us a common language by which we faculty, students, and staff can all talk about the centrality and importance of these courses to a student throughout their academic careers here at VSU and their careers later.”

Written by Jenna Arnold, News Editor. Photo courtesy of VSU.

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