This week’s GT Day at the Capitol highlighted the importance of the relationship between the legislature and universities, but it is important to distinguish between issues the legislature should resolve for the entire university system and issues that each school should resolve for itself. The division between the two is fairly easy to define, however, as it falls solidly along the division between fiscal and social issues on campuses. For example, a statewide policy on campus safety that works on a rural campus like GCSU would be woefully wrong for an urban campus, like Tech’s. The Institute should encourage the legislature to focus on fiscal issues.
In particular, the legislature should reevaluate not just how much money is being allocated, but what the money is being allocated for. Currently, $102.6 million has been set aside for the entire University System of Georgia to increase enrollment, but given the budget cuts that many universities have undergone recently, this money would be more useful in replacing and repairing the infrastructure that has suffered, and looking at rehiring or replacing those laid off by the cuts. It only makes sense that before the USG tries to bring in more students, it ought to bring existing infrastructure up to snuff with the number it currently serves.
The potential economic benefit to the state of developing existing programs, instead of just increasing class sizes, is obvious. As always, the issue of bringing in out-of-state talent and keeping in-state here depends a great deal on how the programs look to top students. Tech is also perfectly situated to help start and develop new businesses, and a focus on developing these resources could only help spur growth. Interest in Tech programs like the start-up accelerator Flashpoint show that there are entrepreneurs in Atlanta looking for guidance, and Tech is in a unique position to provide it to them.