Jaimie Hebert spoke and answered questions at a town hall event Monday at the Nessmith-Lane Center to mark his first 100 days as president of Georgia Southern University.
After congratulating Jean Bartels, provost and vice president for academic affairs, on her upcoming retirement, Hebert announced a national search for a new GS provost.
Richard Flynn, GS literature professor, moderated the event and presented questions from Facebook and from the floor.
Budget priorities, the balance between athletics and academics, expanding the University’s curriculum and plans regarding GS administration were among the topics Hebert covered.
Hebert explained that while he loves GS and does not want to change the University, he is obligated as president to do what he can to improve GS.
“I don’t want to be a different university. I want to be a better Georgia Southern,” Hebert said.
Addressing concerns about whether the University prioritizes athletics over academics, Hebert said athletics comprise only 2.22% of the University budget. Hebert praised student-athletes for representing GS and bringing the school national attention.
A person from the floor asked Hebert how he plans to adjust the library budget to information inflation. Hebert said he wants to expand the academic budget in general.
“Lifting the entire academic mission is really the way we lift the library mission. Chances are, we’re not going to get carloads of money,” Hebert said, explaining that he plans to make the budget more efficient.
When asked how he plans to improve graduation rates, Hebert said that faculty should encourage students to get actively involved in their disciplines, especially through undergraduate research.
Hebert’s plans for the future of GS include expansion of curriculum.
“Growing the breadth of our curriculum in a responsive way, meeting the needs of Georgia and the needs of the workforce, is going to be important,” Hebert said.
An active member of the GS community, Hebert said he enjoys interacting with students and being part of the educational mission, and he loves both research and teaching introductory statistics classes.
Hebert said he hopes to keep GS traditions alive, praising the “small feel” of the large university.
Hebert said, “I really believe in Georgia Southern. I don’t want to change Georgia Southern. I love this place… We are a comprehensive university. [We] balance the undergraduate mission with the research mission with the graduate mission.”