Augusta University invests $6 million to boost faculty and staff amid enrollment surge

Augusta University’s record-setting pace to enroll 16,000 students by 2030 has accelerated faculty and staff hiring to keep up.

Last fall, AU celebrated the enrollment of 10,546 students, an increase of 7.5% over fall 2022 and a 26.6% increase since 2015. Included in that highest-ever number was another record: 1,162 freshmen.

Early projections, including the number of applications for fall 2024 and improved retention rates for current students, point to sustained growth in the years to come.

“As Georgia’s flagship health sciences and medical research university, home of the Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center and a national leader in student success, we strive every day to provide our students with an innovative and personalized learning and discovery environment that helps prepare them for the workforce, and our continued enrollment growth reflects that commitment,” said President Brooks A. Keel, PhD.

In September, AU leadership began the process of addressing the need for more faculty and staff to support the increasing number of students through a new initiative called Project Smart Growth.

Over the next four months, a task force created by Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Neil J. MacKinnon, PhD, looked at every possible line of data to develop a recommendation that Keel and the university’s executive leadership team approved in late January.

The plan comes in at just over $6 million of recurring and one-time funds available for targeted hiring to begin immediately so that new faculty and staff will be in place before the new academic year.

The funds will support the immediate addition of 43 new faculty, 24 new full-time staff, two temporary positions and 42 new student-worker positions, as well as the necessary infrastructure needed to support those individuals.

“We can’t wait for our students to interact with and learn from the new faculty we recruit.”

Judi Wilson, PhD, dean of College of Education and Human Development

The colleges and departments identified as needing the most immediate faculty and staff additions are the College of Education and Human Development; College of Science and Mathematics; James M. Hull College of Business; Pamplin College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences; Enrollment and Student Affairs; Human Resources; the Office of the Vice Provost; and University Libraries.

This significant investment was primarily aimed at bolstering areas where the university expects to see the most growth in core classes that first- and second-year students need to progress toward their degree, but the funding will also support all areas of enrollment growth through increasing student support in areas like Academic Advisement, the Academic Success Center and the Center for Writing Excellence.

“It was a monumental undertaking for many, but the team that was formed did an admirable job in sifting through the data and coming up with an outstanding plan,” said MacKinnon.

MacKinnon tabbed Vice President for Enrollment and Student Affairs Susan Davies, PhD, and Vice Provost Zach Kelehear, EdD, to serve as project sponsors.

Project leads included Christine Crookall, DMA, professor in the Department of Music and associate dean for the Pamplin College of Arts, Tom Crute, PhD, professor for the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and associate dean in the College of Science and Mathematics, and Stanley Singleton, PhD, associate vice president for student success, as well as Michael St. John, project coordinator in the Division of Institutional Effectiveness.

AU Chief Business Officer Yvonne Turner, as well as staff members from Human Resources, Facilities Services, Information Technology and Enrollment and Student Affairs, provided data and input to help the task force effectively and efficiently create a proposal that will both address a current need while also having a long-lasting, positive impact.

Project Smart Growth looks to address two areas of the student experience: face-to-face, in-classroom instruction and the support staff needed to amplify student support services.

When it comes to bolstering the student experience, the task force placed an emphasis on face-to-face instruction based on data on the programs that have grown and those that are projected to see continued growth in the coming years.

At the recommendation of the task force, the majority of new faculty positions were allocated across the College of Education and Human Development, College of Science and Mathematics, and Pamplin College, with Hull College and University Libraries also receiving funds for hiring new faculty.

COEHD saw a 7.6% increase in undergraduate enrollment last fall. Dean Judi Wilson, PhD, said enrollment has doubled from 830 students in fall 2018 to over 1,700 students in fall 2023. For its efforts, the college received an award for the highest enrollment growth last semester.

“Our College of Education and Human Development faculty and staff have been laser-focused on increasing enrollment since I became the dean,” Wilson said. “Our university leadership has recognized this seismic growth by supporting us through these new faculty lines in kinesiology, counseling, research and teacher education. We can’t wait for our students to interact with and learn from the new faculty we recruit.”

CSM and Pamplin received the most faculty additions, as many of the courses required for all first- and second-year students are housed in those two colleges.

CSM saw a 7% increase in fall 2023, including the Bachelor of Science programs in Cell and Molecular Biology, Biology and Neuroscience.

“The College of Science and Mathematics will focus on increasing the number of sections of introductory courses required by both STEM and non-STEM majors,” said Dean John Sutherland, PhD. “We will also distribute critical gateway courses over a broader range of times during the day to make it easier for students to find the courses at a time that fits their schedule.”

From fall 2022 to fall 2023, Pamplin grew by 3.2% in the number of students whose majors are housed in the college; however, since 75% of the required core courses for all first- and second-year students are housed in Pamplin, the college saw an overall increase of 26.7% in number of students served.

“Our current Pamplin College faculty have been teaching additional core classes with the amazing growth we have had at AU,” said Dean Kim Davies, PhD. “It is a relief to know that we are now able to hire additional lecturers to help us teach the many courses that Pamplin contributes to the core.”

Pamplin also will be able to hire additional staff for the Center for Writing Excellence, which serves undergraduate and graduate students as well as faculty.

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Milledge Austin

Milledge Austin is a senior communications and marketing strategist for Communications and Marketing at Augusta University. Contact him to schedule an interview on this topic or with one of our experts at

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man with glasses standing in front of blue background Written by Milledge Austin

Jagwire is your source for news and stories from Augusta University. Daily updates highlight the many ways students, faculty, staff, researchers and clinicians "bring their A games" in classrooms and clinics on four campuses in Augusta and locations across the state of Georgia.

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