Tag Archives: Dr. Kyle Marrero

Student Enrollment Continues to Decline

Rebecca Munday, Staff Writer

A new report shows 2019 enrollment is down 1.3 percent from 2018. 

“Enrollment is, and will continue to be, our No. 1 priority,” said President Dr. Kyle Marrero in the official press release on the subject.
“I’m pleased with the work we have done in the last six months to mediate any decline, and I’m more excited than ever about our future.” 

Dual Enrollment and Graduate Studies gained students but every class of undergraduate students got smaller. This resulted in a net loss of 354 students.

“It’s a shame,” Mihir Patel said. 

Students have a variety of different feelings about this enrollment decline. Some students attributed the cause to optics behind the merger. 

“Maybe it’s because of the merger. It’s probably just going to get better after it’s more solidified,” Delaia Reyes said.

 “Right now, everyone is trying to get some clarity,” Sampson Allotey said. 

“We don’t have the appeal compared to the main campus,” Max Huber said.


“I’m not surprised. Students and families are having to pay for a larger percentage of their tuition and they just can’t afford it.” -Kaitlin Fleming


While enrollment is down in both Savannah and Statesboro, Savannah has taken a harder hit with a 5.9 percent decrease compared to Statesboro’s 1 percent decrease. Some  students feel the university shares some of the blame.

“After the book burning, I don’t know what they expected,” Regan Gayadeen said.

“It’s upsetting we’re not advertising the way we should to obtain students,” Brea Yates said. 

Fall 2019 Enrollment By Campus Graphs-page-001
A chart of the enrollment numbers.

Others feel that money has something to do with the decline. “I’m not surprised. Students and families are having to pay for a larger percentage of their tuition and they just can’t afford it,” Kaitlin Fleming said.

“That’s good…less people in debt,” said Matt Gentile said, when he heard enrollment was down. 

Director of Communications, Jennifer Wise has a different take on the decline in enrollment.

This result actually reverses the trend coming out of consolidation where last year’s decline was greater. University staff and faculty did a wonderful job in the last year to mediate the decline, and we are doing even more this year to get back into positive territory in Spring, Summer and for next Fall,” Wise said. 

According to Wise, they are continuing to work on a plan to reverse the enrollment trend. “The efforts to reverse the enrollment decline are very comprehensive and span across the university.  We have made changes to our recruitment approach such that we have re-doubled our efforts to heavily recruit all populations of students–instead of just focusing on direct from high school freshmen.  We are working on a 5-year Strategic Enrollment Plan which includes upgrades in technology and a new marketing and branding effort. We are also in the process of introducing new academic programs and enhancements to our retention and progression efforts through academic advising and college-based services.  We are increasing our relationships within the region with the Regional Academic Plan and efforts to develop articulation agreements with institutions around the state,” Wise said. 


“This result actually reverses the trend coming out of consolidation where last year’s decline was greater.” -Jennifer Wise


Part of this plan also includes rethinking on-campus student life, how classes are offered and what populations of students Georgia Southern advertises to.

We are diversifying the populations we serve because population trends suggest that the number of high school graduates will be declining. Such diversification requires Georgia Southern to rethink the way we offer classes, how we activate student life on campus, and the populations of students we seek to attract.  Graduate students, military-connected students, transfer students, out of state students, international students, and dual enrollment students will be crucial to our enrollment success, and we must earnestly implement strategies, programs, and services to support those populations to a greater extent if we are to attract and retain them,” Wise said. 

The next public release of enrollment statistics will be available in fall 2020.


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.” 


Investiture Ceremony for Dr. Marrero

Rebecca Munday, Staff Writer

“It’s really important for me to support my president,” said Lydia Boone, a senior, public health major, who attended the Investiture Celebrations Speaker Series and Reception in Fine Arts Hall. The event was part of the Investiture Celebrations of the 14th president of Georgia Southern University, Dr. Kyle Marrero, on the evening of Oct. 24. 

The university’s honors program enlisted students to hold doors, hand out programs and help people find their seats. 

A music major named Gabi Abbott said she attended the event “Because I’m playing. I was invited to play for this event with Eliza.” 

Abbott played clarinet and her friend, Eliza played flute during the reception outside the Fine Arts Auditorium.

Uniform wait staff passed around trays of Beef Wellington and stuffed squash blossoms during the reception from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.  

There were a handful of students in attendance. 

Each of the six speakers for the event spoke about what the core values of Georgia Southern University meant to them and what they thought it meant to the university. 

Dr. Ann Levett speaking at the ceremony. Katherine Arntzen/University Communications and Marketing

First, Chair of the Board of Regents, Regent Don. L. Waters, an Armstrong State University alumnus, spoke on his experiences collaborating with other companies as the president and CEO of Brasseler USA, Inc. 

“Now how fitting and inspiration this is to me. The inspiration should be obvious. Through collaboration, by and among Savannah and Statesboro, Georgia Southern was born,” said Waters. 

Next, Greg Parker, the President and CEO of Parker Companies, spoke on discovery and innovation, how his company is innovating for the future and how the university needs to do the same. 

“In order to thrive moving forward, innovation is not an option, it’s mandatory,” said Parker. 

“Educational institutions needs to innovate in order to stay relevant.” 

Then, Dr. Ann Levett Ed.D, the superintendent of the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System, spoke on openness and inclusion. 

“All of those characteristics contribute to our magnificence as a people,” said Levett. 

“So, our commitment, if we are really committed to inclusion, is to help people be seen.” 

Trip Tollison, the President and CEO of Savannah Economic Development Authority, spoke on sustainability. 

“Simply put sustainability is adding more than you’re taking away,” said Tollison. 

The Inspector General of the United States Army, Lieutenant General Leslie C. Smith, and a Georgia Southern University alumnus, spoke on integrity and how it relates to the Army as well as Georgia Southern University. 

“Integrity, though, is the underpinning of everything we do,” said Smith. 

“Our integrity is the key to what we do.” 

Chancellor Dr. Steve W. Wrigley Ph.D, who works for the University System of Georgia, spoke on academic excellence. 

“Excellence is not being comfortable,” said Wrigley. 

Wrigley quoted the line “It’s hard to be a diamond in a rhinestone world,” from the Dolly Parton song “Tennessee Homesick Blues.” 

Wrigley explained his quote this way, “In a world where it is easy to get by as a rhinestone, shiny on the outside but lacking substance on the inside, it’s hard to sustain a commitment to excellence.” 


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.” 


Interview with University President Dr. Kyle Marrero

Dr. Marrero Talks: Commencement, 5-Year Plan and Inclusive Excellence Report


Madison Watkins, Editor-in-Chief

With October quickly approaching and a hurricane evacuation already disrupting the academic calendar, the fall semester is in full swing. With a new semester comes new updates to the university. 

Headshot of University President Dr. Kyle Marrero Photo by Georgia Southern University.

Within the first month of classes, a new commencement plan was announced for the university. Administration announced a new strategic plan detailing how they will unite the three campuses. Lastly, the Inclusive Excellence Report on how the campus community felt (in terms of diversity) was published. 

The George-Anne Inkwell Edition sat down with University President Dr. Kyle Marrero and Director of Communications Jennifer Wise to discuss these topics. 


Fall Commencement

One of the first questions brought up was why isn’t the university using the Savannah Civic Center for the Armstrong campus commencement ceremony this fall. Marrero responded, “I think parking… is the issue with [the] civic center, just getting access to and into the civic center itself for those guests coming into downtown.”

On whether or not the Civic Center is an option for the Armstrong campus commencement in Spring 2020, Marrero said, “I’ll get a follow up from the committee. I think actually they’re meeting this [last] week to finalize the spring site. We’re even looking at Forsyth Park… but I don’t think it is available as of the last time we checked to do an outdoor ceremony… we should have an answer in the next week or two exactly where it’s gonna be and Civic Center is certainly still an option.”


Hurricane Evacuations

What happens if another hurricane is projected to hit the Chatham County area?

If a storm is projected to hit mainly Savannah, but not Statesboro or Hinesville and we have to close this campus, would just this campus be closed or will it be part of the official procedure to close the University as a whole?

“Well, we’ll always consider all options… There could be scenarios for weather-related events that only one campus would be closed while others are open,” Marrero clarified.

Marrero also stated that students will not have to make up the class days missed due to Hurricane Dorian.

“Because of the folio assignments and our ability to post [online assignments], that keeps us engaged and moving forward. We don’t want to lose another three or four days, but at this point we’re good,” he explained.


5-Year Plan

Next, the new strategic plan was discussed. This 5-Year plan is part of a new strategic plan to aid campus cohesion and establish the new university’s mission and vision. Some students are left wondering, “how does this help me now?” A large amount of the student body will have graduated in five years. 

“Strategically, what we know is there’s already progress in place in terms of what we’re doing to expand the student experience and what we’re doing for the programs.

There’ll be new programs as soon as next fall on this campus that’ll bring [a] new market, new student populations to this campus. 

What we’ll see… is more integration holistically with the community… and more opportunities we’re inviting Savannah and the region onto the campus. So we’ll see much more of a connection with campus and community…immediately. We [also] want to see further expansion of clubs [and] sports opportunities for students to engage in outside of class.

So, within even the time if you’re a sophomore, you’re going to start to feel that here in this next 12 to 18 months as some of these plans come to fruition,” he elaborated.


Inclusive Excellence Report

The next few questions discussed the Inclusive Excellence Report published by Dr. Damon Williams and his colleagues. One topic frequently discussed in the report when discussing the climate of the Armstrong campus was “the pain of consolidation.” Regarding the feelings voiced in the report and how he can make the Armstrong community feel like a part of the university as a whole,

“With the new strategic plan… it will invite and expand and provide evidence of the value added of what we are as a consolidated institution that will start to see the efforts, the wins, the opportunities that it creates regionally for us all and that’s hard right now,” he said. 

From the report, the consolidation leaves people unclear on how they will be personally affected. “That’s the real feelings that people have and how they’ve actually expressed them within a context of a survey mechanism on Diversity Inclusion. It wasn’t surprising but interesting to me that those viewpoints were shared and not necessarily in the confines or questions specific about diversity inclusion but more expressed about their feelings about consolidation still and those are real and it’s important for me to hear them, understand them, empathize and sympathize but more importantly, it’s for my job to set the vision and direction of the future and what that’ll mean their value added and why they’re still so important to the success of the institution… From the inclusion report from Dr. Damon Williams… if you looked across a constituency basis in that report of students, faculty, and staff almost across every question that you could benchmark with our Statesboro or even our Liberty campus colleagues and students and staff you would see that Armstrong had more negative perceptions in other words across the board…

I have a learning network I meet with once a month which are faculty and staff on all three campuses that are my sounding board… I posed the question to think the scores that showed a more negative perception based from the Armstrong campus on diversity inclusion issues were true to the issue of diversity inclusion or more of a reflection of just still feeling, for lack of a better term, done to on consolidation or a negative context of consolidation. 

It was an interesting dialogue because… some of those comments had nothing to do with diversity inclusion, they were more [about] how they feel and I think that was bottled up at least what I got back from my learning network was people haven’t had a chance perse in a survey mechanism to voice their concerns.” 

In February 2020,  GSU will launch the first full institutional climate and engagement survey open to every faculty and staff member. One of the recommendations in the report for the university to better itself is to lift up the strategic campus integration journey across Statesboro, Armstrong and Liberty campuses by getting senior leadership engaged in conversation about one university and one heartbeat, particularly at Armstrong. Marrero said they plan to move forward with more specific open forum town hall meetings to improve morale. 

Williams will be returning in October to evaluate the town hall meetings as feedback on the report. The George-Anne Inkwell Edition will hold monthly interviews with Marrero. If you have questions for him, send them to us at chief.inkwell@gmail.com