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From the Interim Director

Jim Hearn image

IN HER INSIGHTFUL McBee Lecture earlier this year, Dr. Michelle Asha Cooper reminded her listeners of a quotation from Dr. McBee herself affirming the future of higher education, “And we will make it better.” Drs. McBee and Cooper exemplify that hopeful spirit. All of us associated with the Institute can and should play a role in improving higher education as well, whether in Georgia, nationally, or internationally. That goal has been a constant theme in the history of the Institute, even as the activities and people of the Institute change.

As discussed elsewhere in this issue, we are delighted to welcome two talented new core faculty members, Amy Stich and Greg Wolniak. We said goodbye to Yarbrah Peeples in her role as program director of the Georgia College Advising Corps (GCAC) but look forward to her contributions as an Institute Fellow. We were pleased to promote Jessica Robinson into the GCAC program-director position. This past summer brought another transition: university leaders asked Institute Director Libby Morris to serve as interim senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. As was the case when Libby served in that role a few years ago, I’ll be serving as interim director of the Institute during her absence. We are gratified and proud that Libby has been asked to take on this important leadership role for the university.

Of course, while the Institute’s activities and composition inevitably evolve, we remain committed to our established mission and priorities:

• Produce high-quality research and provide expertise to guide policy and organizational improvement: In adding to our strong faculty, we continue to build the Institute’s multidisciplinary expertise in sociology, economics, policy studies, and education. Our graduates enter positions in government agencies, institutions, systems, associations, and private research firms. Regardless of their platform, our alumni join our faculty in their commitment to effective change across postsecondary education.

• Educate scholars and practitioners capable of understanding, producing, and applying high-quality, action-centered research: Critical thinking and analysis are at the heart of our educational programs. We introduce our students to key organizational and policy issues, to different ways to conceptualize and study those issues, to solid research methods and databases, and to national, state, and institutional leaders. We work to provide personalized professional mentoring, resources, and analytic context for them to grow as researchers. From cover to cover, this issue celebrates the activities pursued by our students, our alumni, and our faculty.

• Promote the highest quality teaching and support public service and outreach: Fifty-four years ago, IHE was founded with the charge to serve higher education in Georgia and beyond. Only later were research and doctoral education added to its mission. We celebrate and respect these historic roots and take pride in our Governor’s Teaching Fellows and GCAC programs. Through these core initiatives, and through the involvement of our faculty and students in state, national, and international organizational and policy issues, the Institute’s commitments to improving higher education extend well beyond Athens.

In sum, we are working energetically to ensure that IHE will achieve its goals and maintain its value for its many stakeholders. I hope you enjoy reading about our efforts!  

Type of News/Audience:


Interim Director and Professor of Higher Education

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