Friday October 20, 2000
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Clough pushes undergrad learning initiatives

President focused on themes such as undergraduate research, student and faculty diversity, retention rates, and the teaching and learning environment in his annual State of the Institute address to the Tech student body


President Clough encouraged undergraduate learning initiatives and the continued progress of Tech during the next century in his annual State of the Institute address.

By Tony Kluemper Assistant News Editor

Georgia Tech President G. Wayne Clough shared his vision for the future of Tech when he presented the 2000 State of the Institute address in the Student Center ballroom.

During his presentation, Clough provided students and faculty with an understanding of the accomplishments of Tech in the past year and the direction the institute is headed in the upcoming years.

According to Clough, during the course of the 20th century, Georgia Tech has strived to obtain the same level of recognition as MIT and Harvard by taking the paths followed already laid by these schools.

“I think that in the past decade we have begun to develop an agenda of our own making that has others looking to us for further direction,” said Clough.

“We are now entering the twenty-first century, and we want to make it our century – a time when our collective efforts lifts Georgia Tech from the ranks of the good, solid schools, and establishes us as a center and source of innovation.”

In order to show what has been accomplished at Tech during this time of change, Clough focused the beginning of his address on the achievements of the Tech community. Clough feels that one of the greatest accomplishments of Tech is the improvement in the quality of students.

Clough also addressed the success of the research programs over the past year by recognizing that research expenditures reached an all-time high of about $274 million, which marked the sixth consecutive year of growth. Clough also examined the building projects that are currently affecting the Tech community.

“We all know that a first-class research university requires first-class facilities, and we continue to make progress in that direction,” said Clough. “That is our goal as we plan to take a historic step across the Interstate barrier and become an active participant in Midtown.”

According to Clough, this Midtown location will be especially important for the DuPree College of Management as it develops closer relationships with Atlanta’s high-tech community. In addition to this project, Clough commented on many more aspects of the Master Plan aimed at producing additional improvements across campus.

After addressing the achievements of the Georgia Tech community, Clough discussed the funding and resources that support these achievements.

“We could not attain the accomplishment I have described without ample resources,” said Clough.

“Higher level achievements require a higher level of resources, and the Georgia Tech Foundation and the Campaign for Georgia Tech have been great benefactors for our aspirations.”

According to Clough, if Tech is to be the institution that defines the technological university of the 21st century, all members of the Tech community need to take the initiative to address the issues that lie between Tech and its goal. “These [initiatives] relate to undergraduate education, diversity, faculty entrepreneurship, and communicating our expectations and plans with those we wish to impact and those who impact us,” said Clough.

The president first addressed the idea of improving undergraduate learning at Tech.

“To a large extent the early development of Tech was based on undergraduate education, but in the past three decades, the Institute has seen its fortune rise because of growth of its research enterprise,” said Clough.

“Our undergraduates do not express the same level of satisfaction with their educational experience as our graduate students do.” Clough commented that Tech has been taking steps to enhance the undergraduate experience.

“Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies Bob McMath has been working on these issues for more than a year, talking with students, faculty and academic and administrative leaders,” said Clough.

The initiative Clough presented to improvement undergraduate learning at Tech consisted of four parts.

These parts include providing funding to support faculty in their efforts to engage undergraduates in research; developing a charge for Colleges and Schools to provide recognition for efforts undertaken in support of improving undergraduate learning; providing funding for new graduate and undergraduate teaching assistant positions to support the undergraduate teaching and learning mission; and documenting, reinforcing, and sharing best practices in undergraduate advising.

A total of $250,000 will be given to further undergraduate research opportunities. When faced with the opinion of a faculty member that the amount was too small, Clough said: “Go ahead and challenge me. I’ll find the money.”

The president feels that an improvement in undergraduate learning is needed because undergraduates are the base of all world-class universities.

“We begin with the need for all of us – students, faculty, and staff – to understand that a superlative undergraduate experience is a significant and integral part of a world-class university,” Clough said.

Clough also challenged students to take an active role by attending class, being prepared, and seeking help in academic endeavors.

The address is sponsored annually by the Omicron Delta Kappa (ODK) to provide an open forum for students to communicate with Clough. According to ODK president James Stovall, this year’s presentation offered student appeal.

“A lot of effort was put into making this address more entertaining,” said Stovall. “Students were able to see pictures and videos about the ideas instead of just hearing them.”

According to Stovall, this address gives students an opportunity to directly affect their future.

“I think a lot of the time students are unaware of what is happening, and if students realize what is happening they can have a say of the plans as they are being laid out,” said Stovall. “This address gave students the opportunity to voice their opinions and ask questions of President Clough as the plans are being presented."