WASHINGTON, DC—A new report card issued today by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni gives the University System of Georgia (USG) mixed marks when it comes to academic excellence and accountability. The report card is part of a series of ACTA publications designed to help states improve the performance of their public universities.
While the system receives good grades for general education and board structure and transparency, the report finds room to improve in several areas, including intellectual diversity, student learning, and cost. All grades, as well as brief explanations, can be found in the report’s Executive Summary.
“Given its excellent structure, the Board of Regents is poised to do great things for Georgia’s public university students,” ACTA president Anne D. Neal said. “The areas of cost and student learning—which are hot topics nationally—as well as intellectual diversity, which has been a huge issue in Georgia and beyond, are ripe for its thoughtful attention.”
The report card, Shining the Light, looks at what students are learning (general education), whether the marketplace of ideas is vibrant (intellectual diversity), how the universities are run (governance), and what a college education costs (affordability).
It awards passing (P) or failing (F) grades, which are as follows:
General Education: P
Intellectual Diversity: F
Board Structure & Transparency: P
Board Accomplishments: F
Cost & Effectiveness: F
Governor Sonny Purdue, USG chancellor Erroll B. Davis Jr., Board of Regents chairman Allan Vigil, and Board of Regents vice chairman William H. Cleveland have already received copies. The report card has also been sent to all other regents, as well as all members of the Georgia General Assembly.
The report card includes the results of a scientific survey administered to students at the University of Georgia and Georgia Tech—in which large numbers reported problems in the free exchange of ideas. The survey was done by Pulsar Research and Communications, a national firm headquartered in Connecticut, and comes in the wake of First Amendment lawsuits filed by students at four different USG institutions.
“If we want our graduates to remain competitive in today’s rapidly changing global environment, it’s absolutely imperative that our institutions of higher learning focus on academic excellence, intellectual diversity, and accountability,” remarked Charles E.M. Kolb, president of the Committee for Economic Development. “Hopefully, this report card will spark a renewed commitment to high standards and quality education for all students.”
“I want to make certain my grandchildren will receive the education they deserve. And as a Georgia taxpayer, I have a right to know what the public colleges here are doing,” noted Atlanta resident John R. Wilson, a former trustee of two colleges. “I hope the Regents will take action to make sure public funds are spent responsibly and that our students learn the crucial topics they need to understand in an intellectually open atmosphere.”
“There has been significant public attention in the areas examined by our report card—not least by the U.S. Secretary of Education’s Commission on the Future of Higher Education,” said ACTA policy director Phyllis Palmiero, the report card’s author. “As taxpayers and policymakers generally raise questions about public higher education, this report aims to shine the light on specific areas of public interest and concern.”
The American Council of Trustees and Alumni is a nonpartisan, nonprofit, national organization dedicated to academic freedom, academic quality, and accountability. Its network includes alumni and trustees from more than 600 colleges and universities across the country, including those in Georgia. ACTA has issued numerous reports on higher education including Intellectual Diversity: Time for Action, The Hollow Core, Losing America’s Memory, and Governance in the Public Interest, an analysis of the University of North Carolina System.