Inaugural State of the University Address

GC President Cathy Cox delivers her Inaugural State of the University Address


Katie Futch, News Editor

GC’s President, Cathy Cox, gave her Inaugural State of the University Address on Friday. In her speech, she acknowledged the many accomplishments and highlights of 2021.

When President Cox arrived at GC’s campus, she began a series of listening sessions across campus. She said that this was done in an effort for her to understand campus culture.

“I wanted to make sure that I had ample opportunities to meet students, faculty, and staff and gather your ideas, thoughts, and observations about this special place,” Cox said. “I learned a lot about our strengths, challenges, and opportunities, and have considered the many suggestions that you offered.”

After Cox mentioned the listening sessions, she thanked the campus community for welcoming her. She acknowledged that life in the pandemic has been hard and described the perseverance of organizations, students and staff as “herculean.”

Cox said that there were a few suggestions she acted on rather quickly. One of the suggestions Cox mentioned was institutional branding. She felt that the emphasis on the “university” aspect of the name is important for certain uses.

“Our efforts to expand international education would benefit greatly from emphasizing the fact that we are indeed a university,” Cox said. “So would our marketing and outreach for graduate students in general.”

She mentioned that GC will become more actively involved in the community and outreach by participating in local programs and activities that would make the campus more welcoming to the Milledgeville community.

Cox also addressed compensation for faculty and staff. She discussed the issues with the Board of Regents. Gov. Kemp addressed the issues and recognized the difficulty that faculty and staff had during the pandemic. He recommended that every full-time USG employee receive a $5,000 pay raise. The Speaker of the House indicated his support for this as well.

“It is still early in the legislative budgeting process, but the signs are good that well-deserved pay raises may indeed be coming our way,” Cox said.

Cox said that before her presidency, she was impressed with GC being the state’s designated public liberal arts university. She said that she is committed to the liberal arts mission.

“It really is what drew me to pursue the presidency here,” Cox said. “The deep commitment to using the tools of a broad liberal arts education to teach the essential skills of critical thinking, written and oral communication skills, leadership and teamwork are evident here. It is a distinctive part of what we do.”

Cox challenged the faculty and staff to think about where they aspire to be in the future. She wants the GC community to be ambitious with their goals so they can identify what it will take to get to the next level of excellence.

“I am going to ask our faculty and staff to identify and refine a list of our aspirant schools,” Cox said. “Universities that are similar to us in many ways to which we think are the best of the best. I would like for us to visit some of them this spring and glean the marks of quality that awe might adapt or customize here to differentiate our university in strategic ways.”

GC also received several awards and recognitions in the past year. Five accreditations were awarded to GC in 2021. The chemistry program was included on a list of institutions approved by the American Chemical Society. The nursing program is pursuing certification of its simulation center.

“Nationally prominent universities all earn and maintain these types of markers of quality, and we have to do the very same,” Cox said.

GC was recently awarded the NCAA President’s Award for Academic Excellence. The GC athletic department had the highest academic success rate of any Division II public university in the country.

At the end of her address, Cox said that she found the state of the university to be in a good place. She encouraged the faculty and staff to keep striving for more and better accomplishments.

“I encourage you to think creatively, to find out of the box strategies that will help differentiate us,” Cox said. “Let’s find out what is possible and go after it.”