By Ethan Smith, News Editor
With the “New Georgia Southern” in full effect, student involvement has been a hurdle that the entire university has been dealing with since the consolidation. Dr. Ken Gassiot is the Associate Vice President for Student Engagement at Georgia Southern. Dr. Gassiot has visited the Armstrong Campus numerous times and is an active participant in social media as he continues to join the three campuses together. I spoke with him and asked some questions regarding student involvement here in Savannah and how students can get involved.
- How can Armstrong campus students get involved with Georgia Southern?
Weeks of Welcome is a great way to get started! For the next 6 weeks, events, activities and programs will be happening throughout each week to meet new people and have fun!
While WOW is going on, students can also seek out various offices that can get students involved in events and activities that go past the first 6 weeks. Many of these offices are located in the Memorial College Center, which is connected to the Student Union on the 2nd floor. Students can also see the Dean of Students Office located on the 2nd floor of the Student Union to get specific directions to these offices in the MCC. If activities are happening on a campus that is not their home campus, students can still participate…just bring your Eagle ID.
- With the new crop of freshman coming in, what advice would you give them to get involved?
Don’t think or wait. Just jump in! Routines and habits form early and you want those to be filled with doing something you love and feel good about. The college experience is best lived when you are engaged with activities, people, and events on campus and the community. Savannah is a great city…explore it! When opportunities come up to be on any of the Georgia Southern campuses, do it! Relieve stress in positive ways! The Student Rec Center is a great place to do this! Students who are working a part-time job on campus while also taking 12-15 hours typically have higher grades and are happier due to better time management and feeling of purpose. Finally…ask questions! So many people on campus want to help and connect you to what you need.
- There have been some rumors about enrollment on the Armstrong campus being down? Is it and if so, why?
When the announcement came of Georgia Southern and Armstrong consolidating, some might have been under the wrong impression of what that meant. With some seeing campus signage changing to Georgia Southern, others might have thought their desired institution of Armstrong was no longer. As of Friday, all campuses at Georgia Southern were at 95% of their desired enrollment goal. Overall, Georgia Southern has done really well and it’s been a team effort across many areas at the university. Enrollment at all campuses as of Friday, August 10 was at 26,199.
- Are any new activities on the docket for the Fall of 2018?
Yes! Definitely participate in anything happening on the Armstrong campus, watch advertising in campus posting areas, and pay attention to your university email. Leadership and Community Engagement has established a new office on the Armstrong campus, the Student Rec Center has new outdoor adventure trips, fitness options, and just received a lot of new work out, cardio equipment, and Student Activities has reorganized the Campus Union Board into the University Programming Board to better engage students. Student Media, Multicultural Affairs, Fraternity and Sorority Life, Leadership & Community Engagement and Student Activities all have new staff that are so excited and focused on hearing from students on what they would like to do or get involved in.
- What resources will now be a made available to Armstrong students that were not in the past? How will these new resources improve student success?
All those efforts have been done with the intent to make the experience even better for students on all campuses. New academic majors will be coming to the Armstrong campus, a stronger focus on assessment and accountability with resources, and investing in the relationship Armstrong as with the Savannah community are all areas of importance. President Nickel is providing leadership in these areas during her time as interim President. Student Affairs is focused on maximizing students involved in activities and leadership positions as well as the support channels needed to help students stay on track and graduate.
- Finally, how do you personally believe the three Georgia Southern campuses can engage with each other to become the “New Georgia Southern”?
Building trust and growing relationships are the key. A mindset of 1 university with 3 campuses is increasingly being accepted as our identity and who we are. I do think that the more we do with one another, the more we collaborate, the more we share, the more we grow and excel as the new Georgia Southern University. It also involves making a conscious choice to create the best and most optimal environment for students through academic support, exciting and fun events, and learning opportunities that shape how they see the world…and themselves. They are taking courses, pursuing a degree, and having their lives changed because of the Georgia Southern experience…we can’t let them down.