Campus News

Building on Momentum: The Task Force on Academic Excellence

(UGA File Photo)

A task force launched last year by S. Jack Hu, the university’s senior vice president for academic affairs and provost, has helped identify critical areas where the university can build on its strengths and maximize its impact on society through research and graduate education.

The work of the task force has guided a Presidential Cluster and Strategic Hiring Initiative through which 14 faculty members have been recruited for fall 2020 in areas such as integrative, precision agriculture; environmental sciences; and security, which encompasses cybersecurity, national security and food security. The task force also identified the university’s expertise in addressing challenges facing rural areas and in the biomedical and social sciences, with a particular emphasis on brain health, as areas of strength to build upon.

“The complex challenges facing our world today require a renewed focus on graduate education and research to further the university’s positive impact on society,” Hu said. “Thanks to the work of the Task Force on Academic Excellence, we are well-positioned to build on our momentum and tremendous success with undergraduate education.”

The Task Force on Academic Excellence included 23 faculty members and administrators representing a range of disciplines. Additional subgroups that focused specifically on research, faculty incentives and graduate education brought the total number of participants to 35.

In the area of graduate education, the newly elevated position of vice provost for graduate education and dean of the Graduate School will provide leadership for priorities such as fostering a culture of excellence in graduate mentoring and increasing external fellowships and awards received by graduate students.

One of the key takeaways of the faculty incentives subgroup was a reaffirmation of the importance of recruiting and retaining faculty through faculty development, increased research support and recognition of achievement.

The task force complements the university’s 2025 Strategic Plan, which focuses on promoting excellence in teaching and learning at the undergraduate and graduate levels; growing research, innovation and entrepreneurship; and strengthening partnerships with communities across Georgia and around the world.

“The University of Georgia has made significant strides in recent years and is widely regarded as one of America’s leading public universities,” Hu said. “Through strategic investments in faculty and student support, we can play an even greater role in fostering discovery and innovation to benefit communities here in Georgia and around the world.”