June 4, 2012

Valdosta State University Receives Funds to Increase College Success

VALDOSTA -- A study by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce found that by 2018 approximately 60 percent of jobs in Georgia will require some college education or training. Currently in Georgia only 42 percent of young adults have a college education (certificate, associate’s degree, or bachelor’s degree or higher). More than 250,000 additional college graduates are needed to bridge the 18 percent gap in Georgia’s professional workforce demand.

To support Governor Nathan Deal’s Complete College Georgia plan, which is designed to produce these additional college graduates, Valdosta State University will receive approximately $2.5 million to develop programs and initiatives that will increase student retention and overall college success.

Valdosta State’s funding is part of $72.5 million in new dollars to all 35 University System of Georgia (USG) colleges and universities to increase college completion rates. The funding was made possible through Gov. Nathan Deal and the General Assembly’s fully funding the USG’s enrollment formula.

Valdosta State has developed several institutional priorities to improve student retention and graduation. The list includes expanding the current Honors Programs to include all disciplines, increasing opportunities for undergraduate research, developing student support services that will identify and help students who may be academically at risk, and developing degrees to meet the state’s growing demands within the health care profession.

“These funds will allow Valdosta State to build on many existing programs and create new ones that increase student success, particularly in the areas of retention and graduation,” said Interim President Louis H. Levy. “VSU’s goal is to create a culture that encourages retention and consistent progress toward graduation of our students.”

The identification of students who are academically at risk is at the core of the university’s overall retention plan.

“With our expanded data warehouse and dashboard we will have a mechanism in place to track the academic progress of our students,” Levy said. “Sometimes students do not seek help until it is too late. If we are able to identify a trouble area earlier, then we can develop a plan to intervene and provide additional academic resources.”

The largest appropriation of funds includes approximately $1 million to develop degree programs directly related to increasing the number of graduates within the health care profession.

“As the university moves towards building the Health Sciences and Business Administration (HSBA) facility, we are also working to develop additional programs to supply the state with more health care providers,” Levy said. “Current and additional programs will be housed in the HSBA facility to help ensure that Georgia has the highly trained health care workforce it needs in the future.”

Towards this effort, Valdosta State is also working to develop doctoral degrees in nursing, speech and language pathology, and social work; master’s programs in exercise physiology and health care administration; and bachelor’s degrees in social work and health care administration.

Valdosta State’s institutional priorities also include the development of programs that increase college success among working adults.

Two years ago, Valdosta State established the office of Adult and Military Programs (AMP) to improve degree completion for adult learners (age 25 and older), with particular attention to members of the military and veterans.

According to the Lumina Foundation, in 2010 approximately 1.1 million Georgia adults had earned some college credits but did not have either a two- or four-year college degree. This group represents approximately 22 percent of the state’s population.

The main focus of Valdosta State’s AMP program is to recruit more adult learners, assist with the admissions process, and provide support throughout degree completion. The primary goal is to assist students who have families, careers, and a wide range of life experiences.

In fall 2011, Valdosta State began offering online undergraduate degrees in office administration and technology and criminal justice. The two degrees are the first completely online undergraduate degree programs at Valdosta State. For more than a decade, the university has offered online graduate programs including education specialist, master’s level education degrees, and a Doctor of Public Administration.

The institutional priority funds also include initiatives towards recruitment of high performing students throughout Georgia and internationally, as well as money for infrastructure upgrades to support the data warehouse, classroom technology, and information security.

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