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Huckaby: Change coming to schools

University System of Georgia Chancellor Hank Huckaby, center, chats with James Griffin, right, and Albany State University President Everette Freeman before Huckaby's presentation to ASU's staff and faculty Wednesday.

University System of Georgia Chancellor Hank Huckaby, center, chats with James Griffin, right, and Albany State University President Everette Freeman before Huckaby's presentation to ASU's staff and faculty Wednesday.

ALBANY, Ga. -- University System of Georgia Chancellor Hank Huckaby didn't mince any words Wednesday -- higher education in the state is failing students and he warned that changes to the system are on the way.

Speaking before a large crowd at the opening of Albany State University's annual faculty-staff conference, Huckaby said that "faculty has to focus on the right things. Teaching should be the focus and we should reward it when done well, and frankly, we should also demand it."

Huckaby pointed out that as few as 10 years ago the United States had the world's best system of higher education. Now, the United States has slipped to ninth in the world, which is being led by South Korea.

"We have people now questioning the value of post-secondary education," Huckaby, who assumed the chancellorship last month, said. "It saddens me that in the 21st century we are even having that discussion. The value of a college education cannot be overestimated. It prepares us for life.

"This is a theme I will be sounding more and more."

Huckaby asserts that higher education is adrift and in dire need of change to help the American system regain its competitiveness.

"What's happening on college campuses today is not what it should be," Huckaby said. "Students aren't learning and faculty are not teaching. We need more cooperation among all of us to remain competitive. We have to take a step back and look at what we are doing."

"The whole state has a stake in what we are doing. I want to emphasize that for the University System of Georgia to be successful, we can't keep doing business the way we've been doing it."

And that, Huckaby added, means change is on the way.

"The buzz word around education is 'performance funding,'" the chancellor said. "It's not an entirely new concept; it's been around a while. We've got to find ways to identify and document where we've been successful, or else we will not get funding. Parents, students and the public are demanding we be more accountable.

"They are demanding evidence of success."

Huckaby expects Gov. Nathan Deal to hold a major news conference sometime today where some sort of performance funding initiatives will be announced.

"We are facing change," Huckaby said. "I've been an agent of change my entire career and I suspect that's a major reason I have this job today. This is a great opportunity for us to embrace the coming change rather than be fearful of it."