I recently attended the first meeting of the Georgia Council of Graduate Schools (GCGS) in a classroom on the campus of the University of Georgia's Griffin Campus. Thirteen of us braved the cold and wind to listen to the impassioned plea of Dr. Maureen Grasso, dean of the Graduate School at UGA, that as deans, directors, associate provosts, we should be doing more to advance the cause of graduate education here in the state of Georgia.
To that end, the GCGS was born. Its goal: "GCGS is founded to provide an organization to represent graduate education in the state of Georgia. The purpose of the Council shall be to share knowledge of graduate education among its members, to advocate for the improvement and advancement of graduate education through appropriate channels, to review and implement policies related to graduate education within the state, and to enhance communication with stakeholders."
States such as Alabama and North Carolina have formal "graduate councils" that advocate for graduate education in their respective states. If you go to their respective websites, you will find a number of facts on the importance of graduate education on the economy, job market, civic, cultural, and scientific needs of both Alabama and North Carolina. It is impressive to see how much graduate education is supported in these two states.
This is not to say that graduate education is not supported in Georgia. Quite the contrary. With institutions like UGA, Georgia Tech, Georgia State, Georgia Southern, and yes, Columbus State, students in this state, and beyond, have a quite an array of options when it comes to graduate education.
But as the legislature, the governor, the chancellor and university presidents wrestle with controlling the cost of education and providing a high quality post-secondary education to all of the citizens of Georgia, we as "graduate deans" need to continue to advocate for the importance graduate education in our own state.
Because a university is still the most likely place where entrepreneurship is generated and innovation is nurtured. And those are the processes that usually lead to job creation, research breakthroughs and economic impact.
Yes, there will always be the occasional story like we heard this week about the 17-year-old computer genius who sold his program to Yahoo and became a teenage millionaire. But those successes are the exceptions. Universities are the incubators of ideas and we must continue to support that notion and realize the impact to our state and nation will be long-lasting and significant.
Gregory Domin, associate provost for graduate education, distance learning, and international affairs at Columbus State University, is president-elect/vice president of the Georgia Council of Graduate Schools (GCGS).