Tag Archives: university president

Goals for Spring 2020

Here is a list of goals from President Dr. Kyle Marrero for spring 2020 and beyond for the university:

  1. Our search for an Associate Vice President for Inclusive Excellence, launched on August 29, 2019, is in progress. This is a senior leadership position that will serve as a member of the President’s Cabinet, report directly to me, and provide organizational alignment throughout the institution to deliver our inclusive excellence plan and initiatives.

 

  1. We are working with and supporting the Student Government Association leaders to organize work groups following the open forums to translate student suggestions into an actionable plan.

 

  1. The President’s Student Advisory Council (PSAC) on Inclusive Excellence, which held its first meeting September 16, 2019, will be hosting three “Courageous Conversations” panel discussions/town halls over the next several months and will be identifying additional student organization events to develop an overall “Inclusive Excellence” series. This will be supported by marketing and communication to ensure students are aware of these opportunities and events. In addition, we will continue our “Protect Our Nest” series with a goal of continuous dialogue and relationship building with our university, city and county police officers.

 

  1.  The President’s Diversity Advisory Council, led by Dr. Maxine Bryant, will finalize our Diversity Statement and will serve as a campus diversity crisis advisory team ensuring we communicate effectively and expeditiously.

 

  1. The senior leadership teamhas already established Inclusive Excellence goals specific to their divisional objectives that are presented in their performance scorecards.

 

  1. We are committed to continue our FYE curriculum.

 

  1. Each College is in the process of developing their Inclusive Excellence Planand implementation strategy.

 

  1.  Faculty leaders are being encouraged to engage in discussions, forums, lectures, and presentationsconversing on difficult dialogues to educate, inform, and allow all perspectives to be heard.

 

  1. We continue to be committed to the implementation of the seven recommendations from Dr. Damon Williams Inclusive Excellence report shared with the campus on August 28, 2019.

 

  1. I and my leadership team will continue to be accessible, present, and engaged with you – committing to open dialogue with students – I will update the campus in writing on our progress.

Updates on all of these activities and initiatives will be uploaded to the Inclusive Excellence page, georgiasouthern.edu/diversityandinclusion.

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. 

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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.” 

 

Questions Without Proper Answers

SGA Holds Open Forum on Book Burning Incident

Jason Chapman, Staff Writer

“You’re going to hear university administration say they were bound to certain policies and laws that prevent them from taking action among students that burned a Cuban-American woman’s literature for calling students privileged for being white, part of the irony that after these students were called privileged they did probably the most privileged thing they could do, they burned books, the fact that our top officials not taking further action does not mean that we as students can not either,” said SGA Executive Vice President Spencer DeMink in his opening statement, at the open forum to discuss the book burning that took place on the Statesboro campus on Oct. 9. The forum was held on Oct. 14.

The students that took part in the burning of Jennine Capó Crucet’s novel “Make Your Home Among Strangers” on a grill in Statesboro last week are not being sought out or reprimanded because they are protected by their first amendment rights according to administration.

University President Dr. Kyle Marrero said, “Here we are we’re dialoguing about something that happened last week that we have to press into… This is a campus of which we have to unite together and understand what we will tolerate what we will allow to happen on our campus’ and then how we will uphold First Amendment rights. These aren’t easy. These aren’t easy conversations.”

Marrero went on to name the many First Year Experience (FYE) classes that deal with diversity. He then went through the events that lead up to the book burning. Marrero mentioned, “Students were strongly encouraged but not required to attend her presentation.” However, by multiple accounts, students were told to attend. 

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SGA president Juwan Smith speaking at the forum. Photo by Jason Chapman.

Marrero then went on to clarify that there were never crowds gathering outside of the Crucet’s hotel. 

Marrero said, “I am not able to respond as quickly as you would like me to respond. I don’t respond at the speed of social media.” 

The event was investigated by campus authorities and a statement was released. Marrero said, “It wasn’t until we had via investigation enough information for me to respond to campus. The approval for that statement was expedited via the legal and system process and sent to campus Friday afternoon.”

 The event occurred on Wednesday night. 

Marrero went on, “Some of you would like to see more formal action taken on the students in the video and I can empathize–I can sympathize with your frustration and even your anger. My job. My job is to protect the rights of all students.”

Students were then given a chance to ask questions. The first question was, “From your perspective how can I, a white person, address somebody else’s white privilege when they don’t address it existing?”

Marrero replied with his experience of being born in Puerto Rico and growing up in New Mexico. He then goes onto to tell us of his realization that he understands what privilege is and “that it’s real.”

Marrero said, “This is a real subject area of which we all need to understand and understand those perspectives together.”

Another student brought up the fact that these issues of racism are systemic issues, and talks about how the people teaching these classes aren’t qualified because of budget cuts. She said, “If these hard conversations were had in class then it wouldn’t have been such a huge deal at the event… What I do believe is that the university is trying to put a bandaid over a bullet hole… Are these professors–are these advisors going to be taught how to have these hard conversations?”

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The students in attendance at the open forum. Photo by Jason Chapman.

Marrero stepped away from the microphone and lets the VP of Academic Affairs Dr. Carl Reiber answer this question.

Reiber went on to urge students to look at the syllabus, and said that Armstrong’s FYE classes have been predominantly taught by advisors.

Chief of Staff Brian Kohler then said, “Two years ago the advisors weren’t teaching first year seminar on this campus and also for the past three years the SGA, since before consolidation, has been trying to push for mandated diversity training for professors, advisors.” 

There was no reply to Kohler’s statement. 

The next question was written anonymously, “Why must minorities and persons of color rise above the blatant hate that people of caucasian descent show?”

Marrero replied, “Why must? What’s the alternative? The alternative is we cease to exist in an environment of which we can collaborate together that we can learn more from each other. Does it ask more of those in minority to step up and have to engage? Oh absolutely.”

The next question was, “On the Armstrong campus we have to fill out an open flames request. Based on your facts that you presented in your speech earlier you said that the students burned a grill on the Georgia Southern campus in the student complex. Do they have to fill out an open flames request form?”

Marrero referred the question to Interim Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Melanie Miller.

Miller said, “Outside of the complexes there are grills that are built into the ground that are permanently there and this was one of those grills. I don’t think you have to get permission to.”

The student replied with, “Are those grills Georgia Southern property?”

Miller said, “I assume they are. Yes.” 

The student then goes on, “Well then why don’t they have to fill out a form? If the grill that we use here on Armstrong’s campus is Georgia Southern property and the grill that they use at their student complexes are Georgia Southern property, why are they not filling out open flames request forms and going through the proper training that we have to do here?”

Marrero commented, “Great point. I learned something.”