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University of North Georgia committee sets goals for future

Focus on community input, technology

J.B. Sharma, chairman of the University of North Georgia strategic planning steering committee, describes his ideal vision for the institution's future. CAITLYN WALTERS/Staff. (click for larger version)

Andrew Leavitt, University of North Georgia steering committee co-chairman, explains why he thinks unity is integral to the institution's success. CAITLYN WALTERS/Staff. (click for larger version)
October 29, 2013
CUMMING, Ga. — University of North Georgia steering committee members and participants held a meeting to discuss the institution's strategic plan, focusing on further uniting its four campuses.

On Oct. 23, the chairman of the strategic planning steering committee, J.B. Sharma, and co-chairman, Andrew Leavitt, met with members at the Cumming campus, 300 Aquatic Circle, to discuss steps to implement the committee's vision for the learning institution, comprised of four campuses — in Cumming, Dahlonega, Gainesville and Oconee County.

The consolidation of North Georgia College and State University and Gainesville State College had been anticipated since 2011 and on Jan. 8, the University System of Georgia Board of Regents approved the merger and new name — University of North Georgia.

"The point of this strategic planning is to engender a conversation across the entire new university, have the ideas instilled and have an ownership of these ideas and the visions created," Sharma said. "That way, there is a personal stake and personal piece of everybody in this vision."

Sharma said the committee will strive to complete the strategic planning process by April 2014, after a clear vision is set and resources are allocated to subcommittees, including an implementation committee.

"Then, the torch will be passed to the next committee that will come up with the tactics and steps to complete the vision," Sharma said.

One vision the steering committee has agreed upon is giving an equal voice and sense of unity to all campuses.

"Now, our four distinct campuses are beginning to work together, preserving the campus culture on each campus, but, at the same time, forging one university community," Leavitt said. "I think the process of this strategic planning can bring us as a university much closer together."

Leavitt said the committee will seek advisement from strategic community partners through sounding boards, which differ from focus groups in that it is more response oriented.

"There will also be a series of town hall meetings in all of the communities of the campuses, so that everyone will have an opportunity to not only have input, but to respond to ideas which have been generated," Leavitt said. "If we don't have that external input, we only have half a plan."

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