By: Dr. Art Dunning, Interim President of Albany State University
I have spent a great deal of time in listening sessions with ASU stakeholders from alumni chapters and student groups to faculty members, staff and Southwest Georgia civic leaders. What I’ve heard has been both interesting and intriguing. Some conversations centered on the triumphs of the past and “old days” of glory at Albany State, while others focused on not so good days and disappointments. All organizations experience moments in time that are sometimes positive and at other times negative; but what matters most is the response. I’ve witnessed individuals and organizations being held hostage by moments and experiences that they never moved past. Holding on to a moment of success for too long can result in the loss of one’s winning edge. Harboring hurt, disappointment and resentment also can result in a loss of focus. Our ultimate goal at ASU is to be a student centered university.
As an organization, let’s decide collectively our trajectory. We can be held hostage by moments of the past or we can move forward to ensure progress and ultimate success. I wonder what our students would suggest that we do. My guess is that they would urge us to implement new ideas and strategies and enhance our pedagogy to help them meet 21st century challenges and issues.
I challenge each of you to join me in strategically and deliberately learning and improving, so that ASU will be a higher education leader not only in this state, but in the world. The desire to make massive strides toward the future has been a consistent theme in nearly all of my conversations. Faculty members want us to be more visible in tackling issues in the Albany community. In response, we’ve created the President’s Research Award to support faculty in the use of research to create service learning opportunities for students. In doing so, they will address the most pressing social and economic challenges the community faces.
Another theme of progress comes from alumni who eye recruitment, retention and increasing graduation rates as a priority. Many have challenged us to improve our business processes and strengthen our customer service. In the coming weeks, you will hear more about our plans to strengthen efforts in the aforementioned areas. Our alumni will play a key role in making ASU one of the best universities in the country when it comes to recruiting and retaining students. These are only a few themes that resonate with me as calls to action. If we chose to move forward around these themes, ASU is destined for greatness.