Tag Archives: spring commencement

An Interview with the President

  Marrero Talks Spring Commencement, FYE Program and Reflects on His First Semester as President

Madison Watkins, Editor-in-Chief

Last week, the Inkwell interviewed with University President Dr. Kyle Marrero for the last time this semester, and discussed spring commencement, the FYE program, the future of this campus and his thoughts about how his first semester as president has gone. 

 

Spring Commencement

Marrero confirmed the spring commencement ceremonies for Armstrong students will be on this campus. The specifics of the ceremony like the location and time have not been decided. 

Marrero said they won’t be using the Civic Center or Convention Center as venues in the spring because they weren’t available. 

“Once the decision was made, we checked all the availability and it wasn’t available… We’re going to make the decision that’s best for students and then figure out the venues after.”

Regarding how parking may play out for those ceremonies, “So we’re talking about everything from utilizing parking here and providing shuttles or even [utilizing parking] over at the Armstrong Center… but making sure we’re getting people back and forth so they don’t have to walk it directly. So that’s what we’re looking at right now.”

 

Challenges of the Job

 While Marrero considers himself a “glass half-full” person he did admit that some of the biggest challenges of the job so far are the consolidation and budget.

“I knew consolidation obviously was going to be a challenge culturally: the distinctiveness, the value of both campuses and where they could see themselves in that. And I think the challenge is that they can see a better future than they had before post-consolidation, and that’s where the strategic plan is coming in… And I think that’s the challenge is for people to see themselves in that moving forward.”

“Budget is the second challenge; you know with the declining enrollment from the previous year and then what we’re facing from an allocation reduction… So, we’ve had to make a lot of hard decisions that both institutions haven’t had to face in recent history. My first 90 days was going through some of the largest budget reductions in the history of the institutions and I’m proud of how we did that from an efficiency and effectiveness standpoint and how we ensure the people that were in place in jobs didn’t lose their jobs, that we really focused on vacant positions and then operational efficiencies to reduce operational costs.”

 

First-Year Experience (FYE) Program 

Marrero said administration is planning on revising the FYE program. 

“We’re absolutely committed to having the different modules within the course itself, which is academic mindset, financial literacy and diversity inclusion… we want to look at that and assess and make sure that the advisors were all trained, the faculty that were teaching were trained, they went through a training module… was it perfect? No. Can we make it better? Absolutely.”

Regarding whether or not more professors will be brought in to teach the class instead of advisors, “we’re gonna assess all of that and there’s a financial component there too. You gotta understand that faculty were paid $3,000 a course to teach it… If I want any takeaway out of this is it’s I’ve been in higher education for 26 years. I’ve been at it four different institutions during that time period. I’ve seen it where advisors teach it at all and where faculty teach it all or some combination. The best practices model in some cases end up being the advisors, particularly when it’s a prescribed curriculum of onboarding freshman. Faculty are incredible at teaching when you give them academic freedom… Let’s look at it all and really assess what we need to be best for the outcome of the students.”

 

Looking To The Future

On the topic of what topic of what events to look forward to next semester, Marrero recommended three Town Hall discussions he’ll be hosting over the course of the semester. The topics will be privilege, respect and social responsibility panel discussion in December, social justice in February and gender and sexuality in March. 

 

As we close out the semester, Marrero wants us to keep in mind that we should feel thankful for the opportunity to be a family and friends. “We can never forget as part of our vision statement; ‘People, Purpose, Action: Growing ourselves to grow others’ in the community. If we want to create the optimal environment on our campus we will need to continually care for each other,  our colleagues and our students as well as provide the best environment we can.” 

 

An Interview With The President

Dr. Kyle Marrero Talks Book Burning and Spring Commencement

Madison Watkins, Editor-in-Chief

Homecoming is over, Halloween is here and Thanksgiving is quickly approaching, which means finals will be here before we know it.

This semester has been eventful to say the least. Students and faculty have been wondering what the president has to say about the most recent events and what’s in store for the future. 

The George-Anne Inkwell Edition editors sat down for the monthly interview with University President Dr. Kyle Marrero, who was joined by John Lester, to discuss the book burning, on campus housing issues and the spring commencement ceremonies. 

 

Book Burning Incident

The Oct. 9 book burning incident on the Statesboro campus was widely covered by national news. Some publications and organizations like the free expression nonprofit organization, PEN America, criticized the administration’s response to the incident by not going “further in condemning this act for the intolerance it represents.” 

“I agree with that statement completely,” said Marrero when the subject was brought up during the interview. 

“My job is to uphold the Constitution of the United States as hard as that is… my position and my job is to ensure that those rights of freedom of expression can be expressed on a campus. Even if I hate the speech and the expression of what has happened.”

Marrero then brought up an article that was published by the free speech rights nonprofit Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) that praised Marrero for how the incident was handled. 

“The First Amendment can be frustrating. It can be frustrating to hear views we find distasteful, offensive or outright wrong. But that’s part of the deal. We don’t get to unilaterally decide when someone else’s speech is so distasteful, offensive or wrong that it loses constitutional protection. And in turn, no one gets to unilaterally make that decision about our own speech. FIRE encourages other schools facing possible controversies to follow a similar path. By speaking out loudly, clearly and early, Marrero may have avoided a larger controversy,” said the author of the article Daniel Burnett. 

On the subject of whether or not he thinks this will negatively affect enrollment, “I think enrollment will be a struggle regardless. When we look at the population of 18 year olds coming up as a demographic, the competition in the state and region etc…I hope they can see through this and they can see how ‘this is an institution that I want to go to because I can be a part of building that environment’ of what everyone desires to have,” said Marrero. 

On the topic of whether or not there is a crisis PR plan in place, “Yes, of course. We have an entire crisis plan, everything. We have holding statements ready. Yet from each individual instance we still go through an approval process. It’s to make sure that it fits exactly to that but we have holding statements ready for any and then a process of investigation that’s immediate and expedited. We will never work at the speed of social media because we have a responsibility of getting it correct.”

The next question was do you plan on reaching out directly to the author to apologize, he responded, “I think that has been expressed inmany different ways. My position is to ensure that the rights of our students are protected and that we go through all of our processes. We certainly respect the author and her book is our common read, that’s the greatest respect we can we can show to the author.”

 

Spring Commencement

Marrero confirmed that the spring commencement ceremony for Armstrong students will be on this campus. 

“We’re trying to make an indoor or outdoor decision now and look at all of our options. So the options will be either sports center and probably have two ceremonies depending on the numbers of graduates… We’re exploring an outdoor option too if we could do it somewhere on campus outside.” 

Marrero said the final decision of the venue for the ceremonies will be announced in the next few days. 

 

As part of his final thoughts, Marrero brought up the analogy of looking at the horizon and not fixating on the seat directly in front, “looking at the horizon of where we need to go. If we can overcome and look at the positivity and direction and believe, then we’ll get there.” 

 

Spring Commencement Survey Responses Come Back Negative

Madison Watkins, Editor-in-Chief

This past January, Georgia Southern announced changes would be made for the spring commencement ceremonies. Students would walk at a ceremony where their college was based the Friday and Saturday of graduation weekend, and a campus-wide commencement ceremony would take place on Saturday at Paulson Stadium in Statesboro.

This decision was met with a lot of negative feedback from students on all campuses. 

The weekend of May 11 arrived and many complaints began to surface on social media. Most of which came from those attending ceremonies in Statesboro because Hanner Fieldhouse lacked the capacity to hold all the attendees for the college-based ceremonies. Those who were turned away from Hanner had to watch the ceremony via livestream in a different area.

As attendees arrived for the ceremonies, they were given cards with codes for an online survey so they could give their thoughts on the ceremony. 

On June 4, the results were released online. According to news station, WTOC, over 2,000 people responded. 

According to the preliminary report released by the university, the overall response sentiment was 96% negative. 

40% of the feedback came from graduating students, 25% came from family members, and 12% came from current students. 

69% of the responses concerned the college ceremonies and 31% were based on the university-wide event. 

In response to the question “How would you rate the quality of your experience?”, 62% of interviewees listed poor and 21% listed below average. 

At the end of the survey when the respondents could provide feedback by topic or state their own opinions, of the 1,318 responses, 59% chose “other” [to state their own opinions] and 16% chose “return to Paulson,” which referred to Paulson Stadium where the commencement ceremony was historically held at Georgia Southern.

The complaints grouped under the “other” category included the capacity of the venue, timing issues, lack of clear direction, campus specific ceremonies, and parking/traffic control among many others. 

Dr. Scot Lingrell, V.P. Enrollment Manager told WTOC, “Everybody has their version of what we should be doing, but we’re going to attempt to make everybody happy coming out of these ceremonies, because this is a culminating moment in a person’s life.”

Lingrell also told WTOC that the committee has identified some details they will change for December but did not want to elaborate until there is a further plan in place. 

You can read the full preliminary report here:

Updated Prelim_Report