As the University of West Georgia begins its transition from one president to the next, it is imperative the university as a whole understands who they are and collectively take pride in that identity.
UWG is entering a very volatile time in its history with the shifting of leadership. As the university searches for a new president, there are certain characteristics that will be imperative: fundraising, economic competency and innovation; however, the students, faculty and staff need a president that will redefine what it means to attend UWG.
For the last 17 years, UWG has been graced by the presence of Dr. Beheruz Sethna as president. Throughout Sethna’s tenure, UWG has seen dramatic improvements. Through his work, we have witnessed the introduction of the Advanced Academy of Georgia, one of the few programs in the country that allows high school students to live on campus and begin their college career while earning high school credit. We have also seen the introduction and renovation of many state of the art facilities including the $29 million athletic complex, the $30 million Campus Center, the 18 million dollar Center Point Suites and an $8 million dollar library renovation. Also, UWG has bolstered its total enrolment by 2000 students since 2002. All of these factors have contributed to the vision of becoming a destination university.
While the university has utilized its vision of becoming a destination university, becoming a destination is not always about the way something looks but often about how it feels and is perceived. The new president of UWG must bridge the gap between looking the part and internally becoming a destination university.
Creating a collaborative identity for the university should be a top priority as the president takes his or her office in Sanford Hall. Currently, UWG is viewed as a growing school with much potential; however, it still remains a back-up or second choice school for many graduating high school seniors. Often, attending UWG is seen as taking the easy way out. It is time for this stigma to change. UWG offers students opportunities to grow both academically and professionally as they move forward in their career.
The key in changing this perception lies with the students. How can a belief ingrained in the minds of students telling them they are attending a sub-par institution be changed? The new president will be charged with the task of shifting the perception, which begins with focusing on students and understanding what they desire. Grand buildings and growing enrollment numbers are not necessarily the deciding factor when students are choosing their destination for college. Building the UWG brand and creating a culture that fosters student participation at athletic events, taking pride in their academics and boasting about being a Wolf is the next step to becoming a choice university.
As the search committee continues the search for a president, the search is not merely for a person to fill the position, but for someone who will find a way to prove to each student, faculty and staff that they should be proud to attend the University if West Georgia.