Days of Engagement, town hall continue strategic planning

Institute President G.P. “Bud” Peterson and the Strategic Planning Committee continued their initiative to chart the course of Tech’s growth over the next 25 years this week with a series of events geared towards students, faculty and other members of the community over the last week.

The goal of the strategic planning, according to its website, is to “define the technological university for the 21st century” and establish the goals for Tech to get there through a series of focus groups, meetings and discussions. As of late, committee events included Days of Engagement, which was a series of student discussions within classes from Jan. 21 to Jan. 22.

“I think they really identified what Georgia Tech needs to focus on, but I really wish they would address more on issues about faculty and students. For example, [in] any science class or math class there is a lot of faculty and students [concerns they should address, and] how they can change that or stuff that’s maybe a little more related to [students],” said Yutong Dong, first year IE major.

In addition, a town hall meeting, featuring keynote speaker Joseph Bankoff, President and CEO of the Woodruff Arts Center and Peterson was held on Jan. 22.

“I want to assure you that we haven’t made any decisions at all. The thing that is very exciting about the reports that we’ve received is how they kind of come together. And I think the really hard part for us is the strategic planning process; the really hard part is the part that lies ahead of us,” Peterson said. “It’s relatively easy and exciting and energizing and enjoyable to think very broadly and expansively about what Georgia Tech might be, but trying to bring that together… will be a challenge for us.”

While the events comprised mostly of discussions and idea generation, Peterson and Bankoff did introduce new ideas and even hypothetical portraits of what Tech’s future could be like. In his speech, Bankoff described the Institute’s potential to be not only a center of innovation, but also an intersection for music and technology in addition to a number of different colleges and institutes.

“[Tech] had become a center for respected research in a number of important fields and had benefited greatly from the Georgia Research Alliance to develop areas of eminent scholarship and research. It had broadened its range of offerings and expertise with additions including Colleges of Public Policy, Architecture, Humanities and Computing,” Bankoff said in his speech.

In addition to Bankoff’s predictions, Peterson described new ideas being discussed. These ideas include flexible degree programs, guaranteed education (the ability to continue educations after graduation free of charge) and a center for immigration at Tech.

Despite the high number of potentially large goals and projects, the issue of cost was not directly addressed by Bankoff or Peterson.

When asked about the cost to students in the form of rising tuition and fees along with the potential changes and growth of the Institute, Peterson responded, “It’s going to be a necessary condition. We’re not going to be able to price ourselves out of the work. We are people who don’t like to think of it, but we are a business.”

“Tuition is going up rapidly because the state contribution is going down so quickly. I think that is a self correcting process. We will remain affordable because the public will not allow us to get very far outside of the parameter,” Peterson said.

According to their website, the committee hopes to release a final draft of their plan by this May.