Host Phil Boyum welcomed Georgia Southern University president Dr. Brooks Keel to Monday's “Mornings unPHILtered” with the question that's on everyone's mind: How's your NCAA basketball tournament bracket doing?
Keel assumed his duties as Georgia Southern's 12th president on Jan. 1 amidst the worst economic recession in Georgia and the nation since the 1930s. Boyum asked Keel about drastic budget cuts the university may face.
Keel said that when Gov. Sonny Perdue announced a possible 13-percent cut in December 2009, Erroll Davis, chancellor of the Board of Regents, told all the state's college presidents to prepare the necessary budget adjustments.
Unfortunately, when revenue projections became even more dire, college presidents were told to prepare for as much as an additional 17 percent cut in their budgets. Keel said a worst-case scenario budget therefore would devastate all universities.
Keel said that it won't be until the middle of April that legislative budgets will be finalized. He said he has high hopes that the news will not be nearly as bad as the “worst-case scenario.”
Keel said that some programs and some areas of study may be reduced, and in some cases possibly even combined with other like areas. He said they may also add new fees to certain programs, if necessary, but he does not want to cut any program altogether.
Show host Boyum asked Dr. Keel what would be the best way to make the leap from a regional school to a nationally-recognized school, as he has said he wants to do. Keel said the Eagle Nation is rapidly becoming the Eagle World, and despite GSU's rapid growth, he wants to keep the university's small town feel in place. He said faculty members need to be allowed the time to complete proper research.
Asked by Boyum how he perceives the relationship between the university and the community, he said he believed the relationship was very good. However, Dr. Keel said that Georgia Southern needs to do a better job of recognizing the community for their support.
He promised that Georgia Southern would work with the county and the city to help bring in more businesses and industries to Bulloch County. As the school seeks students from further away, Keel said the school would promote the area as well as the school.
Keel said he believes in strong communication and he meets regularly with the Faculty Senate, staff council, and student government associations to help build a good personal relationship on campus. Keel said it is equally important to build and strengthen the relationship with Eagle Boosters.
Finally, Dr. Keel said he's looking forward to the GSU commencement in May, and called it a celebration for students. He promised to keep his comments short, so family members could enjoy the special time with their children.
“Mornings unPHILtered” airs live Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. on statesboroherald.com and also simulcast on WWNS-AM 1240 on the radio. You also can listen anytime at BoroLive.com on statesboroherald.com