ATLANTA - Georgia Gwinnett College prides itself in the innovative ways it is educating students, college President Daniel Kaufman told members of the House Higher Education Committee on Tuesday.
As the first four-year public college created in the 21st century, Georgia Gwinnett College is committed to building the "Campus of Tomorrow," Kaufman said.
"While we encourage academic freedom for our professors and instructors, GGC does not grant tenure to any of our faculty," he said. "In these tough economic times, we continue to look for ways to save money, and we have not, nor do we have plans to hire academic department heads which carry only partial loads - saving the college millions of dollars annually."
English professor Jessica Damian told committee members the absence of academic departments makes it possible for faculty members to build classes that are truly interdisciplinary.
Faculty members also have an unprecedented opportunity to mentor students, she said. Damian said she knows all of the students in her classes - by first and last name, as well as by their nicknames - and she notices when they miss a lesson.
Jonelle Hall, a sophomore business major, said the opportunity to interact with faculty members who have doctorate degrees was one of the reasons she decided to attend Georgia Gwinnett College.
Hall, the president of the Student Government Association, said the professors are devoted to the mentorship and advancement of students. Her college instructors inspired her decision to attend Harvard Law School.
"One year ago, I would not have even considered this," said Hall, who has two children. "The faculty inspired me and helped me realize my potential."
Kaufman also shared the story of another student who dropped a class because he couldn't afford the tuition - only to return to campus and re-enroll in the class after he won $500 on a scratch-off lottery ticket.
"We have young people who understand the opportunity they've been given, and they take it seriously," Kaufman said.
State Rep. Bill Hembree, R-Winston, committee chairman, attributed the college's success to Kaufman.
"It's leadership - leadership that creates the atmosphere for learning. Dr. Kaufman, your leadership is the bottom line of what's happening at this great institution."