Chancellor Huckaby visits BSC, speaks to Rotary

Published 6:56 pm Tuesday, October 7, 2014

University System of Georgia Board of Regents Chancellor Henry “Hank” Huckaby visited the Bainbridge State College campus on Tuesday of this week and was the guest speaker at the Bainbridge Rotary Club meeting held in the Kirbo Center.

In his introduction, BSC President Richard Carvajal, called Huckaby “a difference maker.”

Huckaby began by saying that when he was named to the chancellor position in May of 2011, he laid out a three point organizational plan to begin to improve the status of college education in Georgia. He found that the public had lost confidence in the system and that it would be necessary to institute some reforms.

The three principals were to move to 1) Performance based 2) Partnerships and 3) Value higher education.

He began with quality staffing and focusing on students. “It’s not about us, or even the faculty. We do what we do to educate students and help them to achieve,” he explained. A lot of work is being done with on-line education, an important piece of the puzzle, as it will be less costly than classroom education.

But certainly there will always be classroom learning.

In the FY16 fiscal year, the budget will transition to a performance-based formula, based on the number of those graduating, rather than the current method of counting the number of enrollees. One way to help students stay the course and graduate is to find ways to develop needs-based financial aid programs.  Although he says we are ranked number one in merit-based aid, a lot of students are unable to pay the final fees and must drop out. He promises a better way of helping finance those in need.

Another big difference will be looking at how efficiently physical facilities are being used. This used to be done internally, but will now be out-sourced for a more realistic outcome expected to have a large budget impact. “We will build what is needed rather than what is wanted,” he promised.

A new focus on economic development is being made with the hiring of a new vice-chancellor to work on that area.

It includes leveraging resources to promote the film  industry, reaching out to military and veterans with more user friendly programs, and above all to work to assure Georgia graduates are prepared to meet the workforce needs of those companies looking to locate here and create jobs.

He cited some figures that stressed the need to take this issue seriously saying that 30 years ago the US ranked number one in workforce readiness, while now we rank number 15, with Korea ranking number one. 35 years ago 72 percent of jobs available required only a high school education. That number is dropping dramatically, and he encouraged local educators to do all they can to see that high school graduates are prepared to go forward in their educational pursuits.

As for partnerships, he praised Bainbridge State College for its collaboration with  technical education. He closed by saying he was excited by Bainbridge State College and what he saw happening here.