G. P. “Bud” Peterson
2017 Institute Address
August 31, 2017
(As written, not necessarily as delivered)
Goal 2 — Sustain and Enhance Excellence in Scholarship and Research: Commission on Creating the Next in Education
Goal 3 — Ensure That Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Public Service Are Fundamental Characteristics of Our Graduates
Goal 4 — Expand our Global Footprint and Influence to Ensure That We Are Graduating Good Global Citizens
Welcome, and thank you for joining us today. This is my ninth Institute address, where I provide an overview of some of the highlights at Georgia Tech and talk about where we’re headed for the upcoming year, followed by an opportunity for questions and discussion.
I have a full script that will be posted on my website after this address. Because I want to keep this conversational, and we have too much going on to cover in this limited time, I encourage you to visit president.gatech.edu to get “the rest of the story.”
This is a time of great momentum. At student convocation Aug. 20, we issued Georgia Tech-branded solar eclipse glasses to more than 2,800 new students. Students, faculty, staff, and members of the community gathered throughout the campus Aug. 21, the first day of fall semester classes, to view the solar eclipse. It was just the type of thing that is a big deal at Georgia Tech — just like our students playing a key role in the discovery of liquid water on Mars, and our participation in the LIGO announcement of the significance of gravitational waves.
Freshmen Admission 2017
As we have done since I’ve been here, this fall we welcomed the best qualified and one of the largest and most diverse freshman classes in Georgia Tech history. They’re from 47 states. (We’re missing Idaho, New Mexico, and West Virginia. Usually it is Montana!) It includes 43 percent women. For reference, five years ago in 2012, it was 35 percent women.
There were 31,500 applications, a record high. The Georgia admit rate was 45 percent, and the overall admit rate was 23 percent. For comparison, our acceptance rate 10 years ago was 65 percent. Georgia Tech’s reputation continues to grow, making it more competitive.
Our admissions staff has processed more than three times as many applications as it did 10 years ago.
The number of first-time Black/African-American applicants has nearly doubled in the past 10 years to more than 2,500. Because of the staff’s work in Undergraduate Admissions to enhance diversity, Georgia Tech graduated a record number of women, Black/African-American, Hispanic, and Asian students in AY 2017. This year, we have a 7 percent increase over last year of Black/African-American enrolling freshmen, and for the first time in recent history, more than 7 percent of the freshman class is Black/African-American. This year’s enrolling class includes a 28 percent increase over last year in first-generation college students.
Graduate Admissions - Fall 2017
We’re also proud of our graduate students. Last year, 11,350 of our 26,839 students, or 42 percent, were graduate students. In 1925 Georgia Tech awarded its first master’s degree, and then in 1950 awarded its first Ph.D. The Institute has continued to excel in the area of graduate education, awarding more doctoral degrees in the past 12 years than in the previous 55 years.
We’ve experienced significant growth in graduate programs, and a large part of it is due to our new online master’s programs. The Online Master of Science in Computer Science was started in 2013 with AT&T. We have 6,000 students this fall, and there have been almost 500 graduates. This semester, we launched an Online Master of Science in Analytics, whose first cohort has 263 students.
Lifelong Learners – FY2017
Georgia Tech is committed to providing lifelong learning. It starts with K-12 outreach to instill STEM interest and skills and extends to almost 27,000 traditional and online students enrolled in degree programs, more than 18,000 learners who benefit from Georgia Tech Professional Education professional development courses and certificate programs, and the 2.4 million learners enrolled worldwide in massive open online courses produced by Georgia Tech.
We are global, and we are connected to leading organizations. The vast majority of our learners are corporate, and most are repeat organizations who have recognized the value of our programs to driving their corporate strategies.
Our Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics & Computing (CEISMC) interacts each year with more than 11,000 pre-college STEM students and 1,000 teachers in Pre-K-12 schools throughout Georgia. More than 125 Georgia Tech faculty and staff are involved from 30-plus colleges, schools, and units, along with more than 90 graduates and postdoctoral fellows, and 250-plus undergraduates.
Access and Affordability
On Aug. 17, we unveiled the Georgia Tech Scholars Program (GTSP) at Gilmer High School in Ellijay. House Speaker David Ralston, other elected officials, and education leaders attended. This represented a continuation of our commitment to benefit all Georgians and support economic development throughout the state.
Under the GTSP, all Georgia high school valedictorians and salutatorians will receive automatic acceptance to the Institute. The program goes into effect with this year’s graduating class. It applies to students who graduate among the top two in their class from any accredited public or private high school in Georgia with 50 or more in its graduating class.
Students admitted through the GTSP will have financial aid opportunities available, including the Zell Miller Scholarship, Gov. Deal’s REACH Georgia program, and other state/federal financial aid programs. Students may also be eligible for the G. Wayne Clough Georgia Tech Promise Program, which is one of the things I’m most proud of here.
We have been fortunate to have corporate support to grow the program. In its first 10 years, there have been 500 Tech Promise graduates, 43 of whom have gone on to earn master’s degrees.
We’re preparing students for success on the job. In 2017, according to our Spring 2017 Career and Salary Survey, the median starting salary was $70,000 for our bachelor’s degree recipients, and the placement rate was 74 percent. If you just include job-seeking students who received their degree in May, that number goes up to 86 percent who had been offered at least one job by graduation.
This year, Georgia Tech ranked No. 8 in the nation in annualized return on investment in higher education by PayScale.com for BS graduates. They’re getting a great return on investment, and in return they’re investing back in their communities. People used to say “I got out” of Georgia Tech. We want to change that to “I’m in.” Once a Yellow Jacket, always a Yellow Jacket.
Strategic Plan Goals Come to Life
In 2010, our campus community launched its 25-year strategic plan, “Designing the Future.” This year, we’re seven years in, or 28 percent. I like to use our Institute Address as a time to reflect on what we’ve accomplished and look ahead. In our plan, we outlined five major goals, listed here. The Strategic Plan Advisory Group of faculty, staff, and students under the leadership of David Frost approves proposals submitted by the campus community in a number of areas. In addition, colleges, schools, and departments have developed their specific plans based on the overall plan.
I would like to give just a few examples of our progress.
Goal 1 — Be Among the Most Highly Respected Technology-Focused Learning Institutions in the World
Our first goal was to be among the most highly respected technology-focused learning institutions in the world. Strategies included enriching the student experience; innovating in instruction methods, course design, and curricula; and developing the campus and its neighborhood as a vibrant live-work-learn-play environment. We are enriching the student experience through:
- Living-Learning Communities — Georgia Tech currently offers six learning communities for students: Grand Challenges, Honors Program, SMaRT, SHaRP, International House, and WST (Women, Science, and Technology), founded in 2000 as the Institute’s first learning community. Institute Diversity’s Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion is developing a new learning community: Impact through Science, Technology, and Social Justice Learning Community.
- Undergraduate Research — Georgia Tech offers a robust Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program.
- Study Abroad — 54 percent of our undergraduate students have an international experience before graduating.
- Co-op and Internships — Georgia Tech’s cooperative education program is the nation’s largest voluntary co-op program.
- 400 Student Organizations — More than 400 organizations give Georgia Tech students the opportunity to find like-minded enthusiasts, whatever their passion.
We are innovating in instruction methods, course design, and curricula through flipped classrooms, VIP, and things we’ve learned from MOOCs. To see how we’re developing the campus and its neighborhood as a vibrant live-work-learn-play environment, explore our new facilities, such as Clough Commons and Tech Square.
Goal 2 — Sustain and Enhance Excellence in Scholarship and Research: Commission on Creating the Next in Education
To be a leading institution of higher learning, Georgia Tech must look forward and define what’s next in education. And that’s priority No. 1 for Georgia Tech’s Commission on Creating the Next in Education. The commission was founded by Provost Rafael Bras and officially kicked off in January 2016. Since then, more than 50 members of the faculty, staff, and undergraduate and graduate students have been working tirelessly to envision what Georgia Tech might look like in five to 10 years, and beyond. Last spring, the commission launched an initiative called #GT2040, an interactive tool that asked our faculty, staff, and students to envision the first day of class in 2040. The ideas ranged from virtual reality and AI (artificial intelligence) experiences, personalized learning, and collaborative experiences, to taking classes from the GT-Mars campus.
The reality is — we know that learners’ needs are changing. Workforce demands are shifting. And science and technology are changing the entire landscape of higher education. The commission is exploring new ideas of content delivery and building a culture of lifelong learning. We will reshape what we think about how Georgia Tech educates, who we educate, and what we teach.
In the coming months, the commission will finalize a report outlining recommendations for pilots and projects, both near term and beyond the horizon, building on the transformational legacy of Georgia Tech. You can follow the commission’s progress on the provost’s website.
Strategic Plan Advisory Group (SPAG) funds were used in 2016 to launch Georgia Tech’s new Ocean Science and Engineering graduate program. SPAG resources were used to develop the OSE organizational structure, the OSE website, and an intense recruitment campaign on social media platforms (e.g. Facebook and Twitter) that resulted in 50,000 website views and about 40 Ph.D. applications. Ten students (3 OSE-CEE, 5 OSE-EAS, and 2 OSE-BIOL) were admitted with funding into the program in fall 2017.
FY 2017 Research at a Glance
In FY 2017, Georgia Tech had $824.8 million in total research expenditures, including 46 percent from the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI). Our new award sources include 73 percent federal awards and 14 percent industry awards.
More than 70 percent of Georgia Tech’s research portfolio is sponsored by the federal government. Other funding entities include other universities, foreign agencies, industry, and state and local governments.
Almost half of our $1.78 billion budget at Georgia Tech is research, and a significant portion of that is federal research. Our top 10 federal partners in research are:
- Department of Defense
- National Science Foundation
- Department of Health & Human Services
- National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
- Department of Energy
- Department of Commerce
- Department of Transportation
- Department of Homeland Security
- Department of Labor
- Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
We are working to diversify our research, and in fact, for the first time this year industry research surpassed $100 million.
We are watching very carefully what is happening in Washington, D.C., with the budgeting process and proposed cuts for research organizations. The president has submitted his budget proposal to Congress, and it will adjust that in the months to come. We will be paying close attention throughout the process.
The Institute’s research efforts are diversified, ranging from biomedical advances to space exploration. Today, we’re focusing on one of the areas — health. We’re helping to create a healthier world through advances in diabetes treatment, vaccine administration, and cell-based therapies. Through basic science, we’re also finding new ways to fight cancer and understand the molecular pathways that lead to glaucoma. The research is made possible through partnership. We have prepared a short video to highlight these areas.
Goal 3 — Ensure That Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Public Service Are Fundamental Characteristics of Our Graduates
Our third goal of the strategic plan is to ensure that innovation, entrepreneurship, and public service are fundamental characteristics of our graduates. Georgia Tech is preparing students for the future through curricula and student competitions designed to instill entrepreneurial confidence. It is estimated that 65 percent of students entering primary school today will ultimately work in job types that don’t currently exist and will hold 15 different jobs during their career. We don’t want to just prepare students for their first job out of college. We want to teach them to think innovatively and have the skills to make those ideas a reality, whether they start their own business or work for a corporation.
Next spring, we will hold our 10th annual InVenture Prize competition on campus. It has drawn more than 3,600 participants during its nine years. An ACC InVenture Prize was modeled after the Georgia Tech competition. Georgia Tech encourages STEM education and an innovation culture in schools throughout the state through the K-12 InVenture Challenge.
More than 1,000 students are participating in CREATE-X, a program designed to give students tools to establish startups or to think innovatively within a corporation. Its three signature programs are Startup Lab, Idea to Prototype — a class in which students enter with an idea and leave with a working prototype — and Startup Launch. Since 2014 CREATE-X has helped launch more than 70 startups. CREATE-X startup companies have received $600,000 through seen investments and more than $2 million in follow-on investments.
Goal 4 — Expand our Global Footprint and Influence to Ensure That We Are Graduating Good Global Citizens
Georgia Tech is a global university. Our faculty members are engaged in research in more than 100 countries. Our students come from 117 countries. For 26 years, we have had a campus in France — Georgia Tech-Lorraine.
In December 2016, we signed an agreement to establish the Georgia Tech Tianjin University Shenzhen Institute in China. It is a partnership between Georgia Tech, the Shenzhen government, and Tianjin University to expand global opportunities in science, technology, and engineering education. The Georgia Tech Tianjin University Shenzhen Institute will offer majors in electrical and computer engineering, computer science, industrial design, environmental engineering, and analytics. Georgia Tech will coordinate the graduate programs at the specialized institute, and Tianjin University, China’s oldest university, will coordinate the undergraduate programs.
The Shenzhen government provided land, startup funding, and operational subsidies. The vision is that the specialized institute will enroll 800 undergraduate and graduate students from throughout the world by 2020 and 3,000 students by 2030. It will present new opportunities for U.S.-based students, including study abroad and internships, and will expand Georgia Tech’s China Summer Program.
A grant from Georgia Tech’s Strategic Plan Advisory Group sponsored “The Global Media Festival: Sustainability across Languages and Cultures,” which endeavors to investigate how other societies around the world take key decisions in the present while imagining the future.
Goal 5 — Relentlessly Pursue Institutional Effectiveness
We want to:
- Maximize resources through institutional effectiveness
- Put systems and processes in place to improve efficiency and control costs
- Advance the services we provide
- Be positioned to take advantage of opportunities
We continue to maximize resources through institutional effectiveness. Our goal is to ensure that we put systems and processes in place to improve efficiency and control costs. We are committed to advancing the services we provide, continually making better informed decisions, and remaining in a position to take advantage of opportunities as they are presented.
For example, through a cross-campus team, Georgia Tech’s financial administrative systems are being transformed into a consolidated, integrated, and scalable solution across the Institute with cloud-based technology. This investment will help to “Create the Next” platform for administrative services and business processes to deliver a higher degree of institutional effectiveness in our financial areas.
Many times we are called upon by the University System of Georgia to be a test site for some of the new best practices. We’re advancing the services we provide and are able to make better-informed decisions.
Power of Partnerships
Many of the exciting things happening on campus are because of partnerships. Our Engineered Biosystems Building opened two years ago. It was designed top to bottom for collaboration, and was made possible through a partnership between the state of Georgia, Georgia Tech, the Georgia Tech Foundation, and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. It houses the Children’s Pediatric Technology Center, a research partnership between Georgia Tech, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, and Emory University.
Just this summer we announced the naming of the Roger A. and Helen B. Krone Engineered Biosystems Building. Roger Krone, AE 1978, is the CEO of Leidos, a leader in science and technology solutions in defense, intelligence, homeland security, and civil and health markets, and has served as GTAB chair. Helen is secretary, treasurer, and financial manager for the Krone Foundation.
Georgia Tech is participating in Smart Campus initiatives, as well as Smart City initiatives. In September, we’re joining with Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and corporate partners to announce further Smart City initiatives. The potential of the Smart Cities concept is tremendous. It has implications in several areas that are right in Georgia Tech’s wheelhouse, including cybersecurity, energy efficiency, environmental sustainability, systems thinking, urban planning, and many others. And in turn, every one of those areas is related to safety and quality of life.
New and Renovated Facilities
The five-year library renewal project is another way Georgia Tech is creating innovative and engaging educational experiences for students. Ninety-eight percent of the resource purchases for the past three years or so have been electronic only, including e-books and journals. Ninety-five percent of the collection — including archival, books, and microfilm — was moved in 2016 to the Library Service Center on the Emory University campus. We believe that the future of scholarship, research, and learning is digital, and that’s why we believe that renovating the building for people, rather than for paper and microfilm, is important. It will bring together inspirational spaces, curated content, expert guidance, and scholarly communities.
West Village on the corner of McMillan and Eighth Streets is now open. It is a new multipurpose facility featuring dining options, meeting space, School of Music classrooms, and offices for West Campus.
The Living Building at Georgia Tech represents our commitment to using the campus as a living, learning laboratory for hands-on educational and research opportunities that will be a model for the region and similar environments around the world.
It is made possible through the generosity of the Kendeda Fund. The actual building will be 100 percent donor funded. It will be one of the most environmentally advanced educational and research facilities in the Southeast.
The facility — intended to be accessible to all — will house co-located academic and research departments as well as student-centric activities. In addition, it will host events and tours that showcase its unique features as well as its benefits to the surrounding ecosystem and community.
Innovative Labs — Robotarium
One of the exciting things happening this month has been the opening of the Robotarium in the Van Leer building. It was covered on the front page of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline “This robot laboratory has no idea what the robots are doing.” Then the subhead read, “Atlanta’s Robotarium lets experimenters operate devices remotely — this is weird!”
The lab is funded by the National Science Foundation and the Office of Naval Research. This open-access scientific playpen is Magnus Egerstedt’s experiment. But if it’s anything like his MOOC robotics course that had 100,000 students from throughout the world right off the bat, it’s sure to attract a crowd, and global attention. More than 100 groups used the prototyped miniversion, so I’m thinking these little flying and swarming robots are going to be very busy.
Although most of the users to date have been research teams from various academic programs, the lab is open to everyone. There is also an opportunity to monetize the Robotarium in the future by allowing free access to researchers and the general public, but charging established companies a fee for running experiments. They can be used to do search-and-rescue scenarios or flight formations for the Department of Defense, or test programming for autonomous vehicles.
Georgia Tech is creating innovation neighborhoods surrounding the campus. The same energy and vision that have fostered Tech Square’s growth are being applied to surrounding neighborhoods. For example, just south of North Avenue toward Northside Drive is an 18-acre tract that includes Technology Enterprise Park, where we have expanded the Global Center for Medical Innovation, and across the street is the North Avenue Research Area. Design and development of the area just off the northwest corner of campus, around 14th Street and Northside Drive, is providing additional opportunities for continued growth and expansion. In June, Boeing and Georgia Tech unveiled a new advanced development research center designed to solve some of the toughest technical challenges in manufacturing. In the Boeing Manufacturing Development Center, company researchers and Georgia Tech engineering students will work together to implement automation in industrial applications. The center is located in Georgia Tech’s new 19,000-square-foot Delta Advanced Manufacturing Pilot Facility. One of the first projects is focusing on industrial robotics for machining and fabrication applications that can be applied to processes at Boeing.
Our research collaborations with industry continue to increase, as part of our goal to diversify our research. We have companies regularly coming to visit Georgia Tech to explore how they can partner or set up an innovation center in or around Tech Square. It’s pretty exciting.
Our purchase of 52 acres in Cobb County to expand the Georgia Tech Research Institute has been in the news lately. Georgia Advanced Technology Ventures, an affiliated organization with Georgia Tech, is proceeding with the purchase from Lockheed Martin that was announced in June 2016. The purchase will give us resources for growth. The sale must be approved by the Board of Regents, and they will vote sometime this fall.
Corporate Innovation Centers
During the past five years, corporations have opened more than 20 innovation and technology centers and labs in and around Tech Square, all within a several-block area, with still others in the planning stages. Companies are attracted to Tech Square so that they can access the talent and technologies being developed and collaborate with Georgia Tech faculty, staff, and students.
This, when coupled with the many startups fostered in the innovative, dynamic environment developed by the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) and the Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2), Georgia Tech’s chief economic development and business-outreach arm, has dramatically changed the face and culture of Midtown.
In one of the most recent additions to Tech Square, Chick-fil-A plans to open a 6,000-square-foot Innovation Satellite Office in Georgia Tech’s Biltmore during fall 2017.
Continued Expansion of Tech Square
We’re now in Phase II of Tech Square development with Coda, a nearly 770,000-square-foot, mixed-use project that will host our high-performance computing center. Portman Holdings owns the tower, and John Portman & Associates is designing the facility. Construction is scheduled to be finished in 2019.
In October 2016, we completed the purchase of The Biltmore, which has approximately 290,000 square feet of loft office, retail, and ballroom space. Georgia Tech’s Biltmore is occupied predominantly by engineering firms, energy companies, and late-stage technology startups.
Overall, we’re adding 1 million square feet to go with Tech Square’s existing 1.4 million square feet of office, research, retail, and hotel space.
This past year was a great one for Athletics. Our football team finished a 9-4 season with a victory over Kentucky in the TaxSlayer Bowl. The Yellow Jackets will open the 2017 season in one of two Chick-fil-A Kickoff Games at the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Labor Day against Tennessee.
The men’s basketball team made it to the National Invitation Tournament, or NIT, final in New York, and the women’s team reached the Women’s NIT final in Michigan. It was the first time since the Women’s NIT began in 1998 that teams from the same school reached both the men’s and women’s NIT finals.
The women’s tennis team was ranked in the NCAA’s top 10 all season. The men’s basketball team will give a new definition to an away game when it opens its season in China against UCLA.
We’re very proud that athletes on our 17 NCAA intercollegiate teams excel both athletically and academically. The Institute’s athletics NCAA Graduation Success Rate, or GSR, has reached an all-time high of 87 percent, Tech’s highest since the NCAA began using the metric in 2005.
Last September, we were pleased to welcome a new director of athletics, Todd Stansbury, who is focused on the Total Person Program, based on a concept by Dr. Homer Rice that excellence is the result of a balanced life encompassing academic excellence, athletic achievement, and personal well-being. Dr. Rice still teaches that, and I am privileged to guest lecture in his class each year.
65th Anniversary of Women at Tech
As the 2017-18 academic year begins, we celebrate 65 years of the admission of women as full-time students at Georgia Tech. We have become the No. 1 producer of women engineers in the country, and we have outstanding women graduates in all areas of study. Many have been trailblazers in their chosen fields.
It is fitting that the Naugle Communication Lab was dedicated earlier this month, honoring the innovative work of Dr. Helen H. Naugle, one of only two women on the faculty at Tech in 1962 and a pioneer in the establishment of university writing centers. She was voted Outstanding Teacher four years in a row and delivered the Commencement address at Georgia Tech in 1978.
Gender Equity Initiatives Task Force Update
As part of several Gender Equity initiatives, we have conducted more than 20 Implicit Bias Workshops for nearly 300 faculty members since fall 2015. We will offer three additional such workshops during fall 2017. To enhance professional and leadership development, we have also launched Leading Women@Tech, the Inclusive Leaders Academy, and the provost’s Emerging Leaders Program. Those interested can learn more at diversity.gatech.edu/GenderEquityInitiatives.
Black Student Experience Task Force Update
In 2015-16, Georgia Tech formed the initial Black Student Task Force of students, faculty, and staff. Student members gathered feedback from the student body, conducting more than 130 interviews. Last year we adopted the 11 recommendations to be implemented over a three-year period and formed an implementation committee of student, faculty, and staff members. The categories were program, training, physical spaces, and planning and assessment updates.
In 2017-18, they will continue the implementation of the recommendations, and are looking more expansively at the connected areas of all recommendations, such as FASET and the Office of Minority Educational Development’s (OMED) Challenge. A few of the Task Force’s initiatives:
- Began expansion of OMED’s Challenge program enrollment from 75 to 175 participants per summer by 2019.
- A five-week intensive academic preparatory program for incoming freshmen over the summer.
- Launching EthicsPoint reporting system to the Institute this fall.
Creating a Great Place to Work
We are committed to creating a great place to work at Georgia Tech. We have some of the best faculty, staff, and students in the world, and you all invest a great deal of your life in Georgia Tech. We want to invest in you.
Under the leadership of Campaign Chair Leanne West, the 2017 Governor’s Cup for charitable contributions was awarded to Georgia Tech for being the state institution with the highest average contribution per employee. Our average contribution was $308. We also won the Governor’s Award for the highest level of participation, with 20 percent of employees contributing. Tech has won the Governor’s Cup 15 of the past 17 years for state agencies or universities with 1,001-9,000 employees.
In 2017, Georgia Tech’s Staff Council, which provides a liaison with Tech’s 3,700 staff members to the Institute’s executive leadership, has created a one-year service-recognition program for employees and also achieved a 100-percent increase in the funding for its annual Staff Awards.
We work to ensure that we offer wellness programs and competitive benefits. In 2015, we started Georgia Tech’s Center for Health & Well-Being, which offers programs and resources for all members of the Georgia Tech community to use.
As we continue to create a great place to work, it is paramount that we remain mindful of the importance of ethical behavior. Because it is a public research university, Georgia Tech is a steward of taxpayer dollars, research funding, and tuition paid by students and their families. That means that each member of the Georgia Tech community has an obligation to uphold professional and ethical standards and help ensure that Institute resources are used responsibly and respectfully. Understanding these obligations and responsibilities is a continuous, year-round commitment. Doing so helps protect Georgia Tech’s resources and reputation as well as ensure that the Institute is compliant with federal and state laws.
Building an Inclusive Community
As we begin a new academic year, all our minds are on the events that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia, a couple of weeks ago. On the first day of classes, we posted my welcome letter to students and faculty as they returned to campus on my website, linking to it from the Daily Digest.
In that message, I addressed the issue, and reinforced our message to students, and the entire Georgia Tech community: We remain steadfast in our commitment to fostering a “safe and inclusive environment that is welcoming to all, regardless of gender, ethnicity, race, creed, nationality, religious beliefs, or perspectives.”
We will continue the conversation throughout the year, but more than that, our strong support.
3,500 Graduates This Spring / While They Were at Georgia Tech…
This past May we presented Georgia Tech diplomas to 3,500 bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D. students in three ceremonies. These students are going to go out and do great things, and in fact, I often say that the Georgia Tech Commencement exercises are one of the most significant technology transfer events in the world.
While every Commencement is special, Ali Foreman, the reflection speaker for the Saturday morning undergraduate ceremony, caused me to think back on this particular class and all they had seen and done. Her talk was a “tongue in cheek” breakup letter to Georgia Tech. When she got to the “thanks for the memories” part, she reflected on several of the things that had happened on campus since the class of 2017 arrived. Here’s a reminder of what students have experienced in just the last four years:
For example, they were told on their first day, “You can do that. … you’re at Georgia Tech” by Nick Selby, whose message went viral to 5 million viewers around the world. They saw the opening of several new facilities — four new dining facilities, EBB, John & Mary Brock Football Facility, McCamish Pavilion, Noonan Golf Facility, Zelnak Basketball Practice Facility, Caddell Building and other renovations, and the Einstein Monument. In 2014, they saw Harrison Butker kick a 53-yard field goal to send the football game against UGA into overtime in Athens, where the Jackets then went on to win 30-24. They filled McCamish Pavilion to hear the president speak. They watched as NASA announced that liquid water on Mars had been discovered with the help of Georgia Tech graduate students. They saw our faculty and students help verify Einstein’s Theory of Relativity.
Our Strength Lies in Collaboration
In our time today, we’ve covered a long list of great things we’ve been able to accomplish together in the past year at Georgia Tech, but many that were just as worthy of recognition have been left out. I hope that the cumulative impression you’ve received is that this is a time of strong positive momentum.
Georgia Tech’s strength lies in our collaboration, and our leadership in the community, the state, the nation, and in some cases, even the world. It takes all of us. We’re a leader in research, with strong partnerships with federal, state, and local government; industry; and other universities. Business and manufacturing companies look to us for real-world solutions and individuals who will strengthen their workforce.
At the Scheller College of Business, we work with some of the nation’s great corporations to teach our students about leadership. At the Ivan Allen College, we are blending an appreciation of the liberal arts with the technological skills that will be needed as our students leave Georgia Tech and go out into the world.
We collaborate with universities as far away as China and as nearby as Emory. Our expertise is sought all over the world, and our students are in demand in the academic, corporate, governmental, and scientific arenas. Georgia Tech is a powerful force for technological progress and innovative solutions. None of this could happen without the many amazing people who make up Georgia Tech, like the people in this room and the others watching today via webcast. We’re sincerely grateful for you, your expertise, and your commitment to Georgia Tech.
Thank you for joining us today, and now let’s go out and have another great year together!
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