At the end of August, Gordon State College interim president Dr. Donald J. Green marked his first 100 days in office. In those three months and almost two weeks, Green left no room for procrastination and made great progress toward his goal of realigning GSC’s trajectory with central Georgia’s economic boom.
Green understands the growing demand for people with specialized skills and therefore has put a great focus on the importance of student outcomes: retention, graduation and employability. He sees the value added by GSC and the potential for greater contribution to our local region.
“We’re seeing, in the last three years, fewer students pursuing college. Because of this, there’s now an expanding demand for talent for specialized skill professions. That employable talent only comes from having a college degree and being able to be well educated in various areas,” Green said. “We’re explaining to students the necessity of having these specific skills, so they can take advantage of an exploding market.”
His plan for achieving this goal is to focus on more career-oriented degree programs that will better fit growing labor demands and business environment. Green is currently in the process of proposing four such programs in the fields of analytics and finance, information technology, AI, and supply chain management.
“The value of a Gordon State College education will set them apart with in-demand skills that’ll attract top employers. At graduation, the diploma they hold will be the $1.1 million difference in pay and benefits over a lifetime, as research has shown,” Green said.
Green wants students to realize that college is a life-choice, a bridge to their future. He believes numerous students across America come to college and see it as a “test drive rather than buying the car.” He wants to help students create a vision for where they want to go, what they want their careers to be, what they wish to achieve throughout their lives, and better understand how a college graduation is an important steppingstone of that vision.
Increasing student retention is key to this process – to graduate, students must stay. Green acknowledges that the work put in within the last several years has paid off, with GSC seeing incremental increases in retention rates. Moving forward, his goal is to “add fuel” to that momentum to achieve even better outcomes. One way is to emphasize the benefit of completing an entire associate degree at GSC. Many students don’t realize that if they earn an associate degree, every bit of their course work can be accepted at another University System of Georgia (USG) institution. By completing that first degree, the student has increased their options for further education, careers, and life goals.
Of course, Green would want them to consider continuing at Gordon as a first choice.
The final and important piece of Green’s goal is to help students understand why they should choose to attend and graduate from GSC because of its quality and affordability. From the start, Green has emphasized the value he sees in a GSC education, which is especially meaningful when families are deciding how best to afford college and ensure their students’ future success. An entire 4-year degree at GSC is approximately $17K in tuition. By choosing GSC, students can complete their degree without gaining substantial debt.
“You come to Gordon, and you’ll get an exceptional education, be highly employable, have a great career and potentially zero debt once you finish your bachelor’s degree,” Green said.
Over the next year, Green will focus on developing new programs, expanding outreach and promotion, and spreading the Gordon message across the region and state. He already has visited many local communities and high schools discussing the value and benefit of a GSC education.