Tech’s mission has been and continues to be developing leaders who advance technology and improve the human condition. In order to accomplish and uphold this mission, the administration rolled out a ten year
strategic plan in 2020.
The plan contains six areas of strategic focus: amplifying impact, championing innovation, connecting globally, expanding access, cultivating well-being and leading by example.
To expand and meet these six goals would put the Institute in a great place, but the administration has taken some wrong turns in their efforts.
Tech’s new first year class has arrived on campus, officially making them more than just the statistics that the Office of Admissions has been broadcasting since their acceptance. They are the Institute’s largest class, most diverse and — according to the Georgia Tech Instagram — most accomplished. This class represents so much of what it means to be a Jacket; they are championing innovation with their accomplishments as well as expanding access with their diverse backgrounds.
However, I pulled out my highlighter when I saw the term largest. The strategic plan’s six focuses would require a quantitative growth in the student body and the Institute indeed should grow in its effort to amplify impact as well as expand access; however, growth is not just admitting more students, it is making the proper accommodations for them in order to provide a quality experience.
Earlier this year in an interview with the Georgia Tech News Center, Director of Undergraduate Admission Rick Clark bragged that this incoming class was “500 [students] larger than it was three years ago.”
Clark may see this as an achievement for his office, but when I read this statement, I find it to be on the nose. The Institute has not constructed a new residence hall since 2005 or entirely renovated any
residence halls since 2015.
The Institute still struggles to offer third and fourth year students the classes they need to graduate. The Institute has a 22:1 student to faculty ratio as opposed to other notable state schools like North Carolina who sits at 16:1, Virginia at 15:1, Michigan at 15:1 and Georgia at 17:1. The Institute is constructing interactive media stations that take away already scarce library seating. The Institute is making expansions and over admitting students when they simply are not ready to.
When Clark was questioned about his concern for the growth and the effect on student experience, he said “When I meet with the deans and [other] leadership around campus, there are some people concerned about our student-faculty ratio, but not many. I mean, the truth is, most of our majors in most of
our colleges want to grow. However, you’re right, we have to figure out a way to not keep flooding some of these majors that are already at capacity or feeling the strains. We need to do that without having the student experience suffer, inside the classroom or outside the classroom when it comes to support, whether it be advising or mental health and counseling or any of the other sort of wraparound services and support that we provide students.”
This is a really beautiful political statement that offers absolutely no solution to the growing issue. Clark has heard the concerns, but seemingly disregards them with a “heard ya, we have got to do something about that” in which there is little to no action to follow.
However, Clark is not at fault here and I do not want to be too hard on him, I truly believe he has the Institute’s best interest at heart and he will make the right adjustments. There are people above him though that are pushing too hard, he says it himself, “it’s also something that the University System of Georgia (USG) wants; we don’t operate in a silo and we are part of a system. Funding comes from the state on some level, and we’re not a private school, so we’re not making entirely independent campus decisions. We have the ability to set vision, but we also have a responsibility, again, to the state [and] to the system. And that system also has a desire for Georgia Tech to grow.” This issue is bigger than Clark and it goes into the University System of Georgia itself.
USG and Tech did do one thing correctly towards preparing for more students. The Institute will be breaking ground on a new residence hall that can accommodate 850 students; however, the official press release claims the residence hall “will aid in the housing of students who are relocated due to renovations on existing residence halls.”
This means the new residence hall will not allow for 850 new students, it will simply substitute for residence halls that are closing for renovations. Therefore, there should be no growth in the student population, right…?
Every single student at Tech deserves a fulfilling, enriching and positive experience at a school that costs thousands of dollars, but this does not seem to be the aim of the administration. A 500 person growth in just three years with absolutely no accommodative changes in almost a decade is not something to be proud of nor should it be considered progress; it is shameful.
If you found yourself walking to class over the past two weeks wondering why campus felt so full…that is because it is.
Housing for upperclassmen had a waitlist with hundreds of students last spring, classes for some of the biggest majors on campus were nearly impossible to register for and the library most likely cannot sit a quarter of the campus population.
I love this school with all my heart and I want everyone to have an amazing experience here at Tech, but how can Tech “develop leaders who advance technology and improve the human condition” with one of the highest faculty to student ratios of all prestigious state schools, with nowhere to house these new leaders, with not enough classes to develop these leaders, with not enough study space for these leaders to enrich their mind, need I go on.
Tech students deserve the best from this strategic plan and the plan has their interests at heart, but the current execution of the plan is a falter from the administration.
The Institute is failing all of its students at this current time as it has focused too much on growth rather than building up the foundation they have already established. Welcome to Tech.