Editor’s note: Tom Reichert is one of four UGA faculty members currently serving as a fellow in the SEC Academic Leadership Development Program. This is the first of a series of first-person accounts of his experiences that he is writing for Columns.
Impressed and proud are two words that describe my reaction to this fall’s SEC Academic Leadership Development Program workshop held at UGA last month.
The workshop is part of the Academic Leadership Development Program of SECU, the academic initiative of the Southeastern Conference. Each university has three to four fellows who convene twice a year at an SEC university and also participate in a professional development program at their own institution. This fall it was Georgia’s turn to host the conference, so 50 fellows traveled to Athens to learn about UGA. The four of us from UGA—Tracie Costantino, Sarah Covert, Julian Cook and myself—didn’t have far to travel this time, but that was fine. Over time you come to understand your university, but rarely do you get a comprehensive overview in one sitting. We’ll be visiting the University of South Carolina for the spring workshop. The conference was arranged by Meg Amstutz, associate provost for academic programs and our SECU liaison. She made UGA look good.
The three-day conference offered information and perspectives from UGA administrators ranging from deans and directors, to vice presidents and associate provosts, to the provost and president. Each speaker described his or her role in fulfilling the university’s mission and talked candidly about successes and challenges. Attendees were impressed by the quality of our students and our efforts toward diversity, public service and outreach, and international programs.
Everyone found sobering a presentation by Ryan Nesbit, interim vice president for finance and administration, which described UGA’s sources of revenue over the last few years-although it is a view similar to what they see at their institutions. The fellows were impressed at how UGA has responded to the financial challenges while remaining committed to its core goals. The conference also showed off our beautiful campus with a walking tour of North Campus and the Richard B. Russell Building Special Collections Libraries.
Highlights also included a dinner at the president’s house and a question-and-answer session with UGA President Jere W. Morehead. The fellows were impressed with our president’s candor and thoughtful responses. They also were impressed by the Georgia Center and remarked how nice it was to have a conference facility on campus-not all institutions have one. As usual, Keith Campbell, psychology professor and department head, engaged us with facts about the Millennial Generation. Another special highlight was a talk and tour of the Georgia Museum of Art led by its director, Bill Eiland.
As a faculty member, I now have a better sense of the importance of administration-from managing enrollment and facilities, academic programs and progress, and finances, among many other vital functions. As a department head, I already have appointments with several offices at UGA to inventory and determine how we can do better in terms of diversity, service-learning, and international education and research. I was able to make connections with faculty at other SEC universities who are solving similar challenges in innovative ways. Learning more about development and fundraising is my specific emphasis this year as an ALDP fellow. I’m working closely with Vice President Tom Landrum to get an overview of efforts at UGA regarding development and alumni relations. I’ll share more about that in my next report.
Overall, I learned much about our university, and I appreciate the work being done to take UGA to the next level.
Tom Reichert is the Athletic Association Professor of Advertising and head of the department of advertising and public relations in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication.