Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.
– Albert Einstein
UWG’s new provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, Dr. Jon Preston, started in his position on Dec. 1, 2020 and is committed to serving both UWG students and the Carrollton community.
As a resident of Carroll County for over 20 years, Preston has enjoyed the cultural community of the West Georgia region and has seen firsthand how UWG greatly contributes to the area.
“I believe that higher education is a great way to serve others and really increase and improve the lives of the community,” said Preston.
UWG is currently implementing its new strategic plan called “Becoming UWG,” which is focused on making UWG a first-choice university that provides an enriching experience for students. Preston plays a large role in this plan as it focuses on improving the student experience, which is one of his main goals as acting provost.
“What I’m looking forward to in serving as provost is being as impactful as I can to help more students be more successful,” said Preston.
Preston has held positions at other University System of Georgia (USG) institutions including Kennesaw State University, Clayton State University and Georgia Tech. In his previous role at KSU, he served as the dean of the College of Computing and Software Engineering and also served as Faculty Executive Assistant to the President and Department Chair in Computing.
“West Georgia is not an institution in isolation,” said Preston. “I can work with the other institutions across the state, and I have great colleagues and can bring some of the innovations from those colleagues to the University of West Georgia.”
One challenge for Preston in his role is the decline of face-to-face conversations with students and faculty because of COVID-19. The pandemic has caused many social interactions, both personal and professional, to shift online.
“We’re all missing out on that face-to-face interaction,” said Preston. “That in-person experience is fantastic.
“My heart goes out to folks that are suffering through this time,” continued Preston. “The toughest challenge we have is maintaining that balance of safety as well as that enriched campus experience that students are looking for.”
Despite this challenge, Preston has been able to speak with some students and faculty via online platforms to gain an understanding of what UWG needs most. Some educational and experiential improvements are already underway. With Affordable Learning Georgia Grants from USG, the university will be able to create online textbooks free to students. There are also new momentum initiatives that USG has for focusing on students’ success. The Momentum Center on campus provides convenient services for students all in one building such as Career Services, Center for Student Success, the registrar and more. These are just a few improvements that are happening under the direction of USG and Preston.
“Removing barriers and improving access is core to what I am trying to do here as provost,” said Preston.
All of this ties back to Preston’s belief that serving others is what humans were put on earth for. His favorite quote from Einstein embodies the idea that a life serving others is a life worth living.
“We are here to serve each other, and the best thing we can do in life is to put others first and to consider them as really important,” said Preston.