Hawkins to prioritize enhancing degree, community engagement

Pradyot Sharma

Variety Editor

Adding value to the Troy University degree and increasing community engagement are some of the primary goals for the administration going forward, according to Troy University Chancellor Jack Hawkins Jr.

“I want your degree to be more valuable 20 years from now than it is today, and I think it can be, but it takes all of us working together to make it so,” Hawkins said.

According to Hawkins, the administration plans to achieve this by increasing independent specialized accreditation for different course fields within the university while adding more course offerings and building an infrastructure to support them.

In addition to the new north end zone in the Veterans Memorial Stadium and the new student recreation center, the university is also working to build a science and technology center with the facilities to support academic research for both faculty and students.

“We shape our buildings, and our buildings shape us,” Hawkins said.

Hawkins stressed the importance of research, saying inquiry is important, and faculty who do not engage in research can go on to become stale.

“We need to step into the real world and bring science into play,” he said. “That’s when we become more mature — when we are engaged in helping find answers to real world problems.”

Hawkins also plans to cut textbook costs for students in half, but he said faculty need to play a major role in shaping open educational resources to do so.

“I think we can reduce costs because there is a lot of material out there today that’s available online, and in fact, a lot of our professors are tailoring the academic materials to support what they are teaching,” he said.

The administration will also continue its initiative with international programs and online education. According to Hawkins, Troy Online now reaches students in 13 different time zones.

“When gasoline gets to $5 a gallon, online education will be more important,” Hawkins said.

Troy is also planning to increase the number of study abroad experiences it offers, and Hawkins said this is critical to enhance the student learning experience.

According to Hawkins, the administration needs to continue diversifying revenue streams to ensure the school is not dependent on a single source of income while maintaining the importance of cutting costs for students.

“You cannot rely on one source, as it can be pulled from you,” he said. “But the truth remains in American higher education institutions like this one, it is tuition-driven, and the majority of the revenues will actually come from the consumer of the service, but that’s not to say that the state shouldn’t step in.”

Hawkins identified growing debt as a challenge for students but maintained Troy graduates owed less money than the national average. He advises students not to borrow money for convenience.

The goal for Hawkins is to integrate students into one path, saying he doesn’t want international students to feel like they are in a different path than the American students.

“I want all our students to be integrated into the fabric of the university and the university to come together as a river and flow together,” he said. “And we are going to continue to work on that.”

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