On Wednesday, May 1, President Brooks A. Keel delivered his second State of the University address to an almost packed house in the Natalie and Lansing B. Lee Jr. Auditoria Center, as well as to those livestreaming the speech at sites across the state.
Noting Augusta University’s importance as one of the state’s four comprehensive research universities, home to the state’s only dental college and its only public, academic medical school, he also singled out the Children’s Hospital of Georgia as one aspect of Augusta University that people are often unaware of.
“That’s one of the jewels in our crown,” Keel said. “And if we take the stuff we do in the Children’s Hospital and the Georgia Cancer Center, we ought to be world leaders in children’s cancer.”
Keel also discussed the institution’s growing reputation by emphasizing the jump in enrollment the past academic year, the largest year-to-year increase in school history.
The record-breaking numbers have inspired a new objective named 16×30 that hopes to push enrollment to 16,000 students by fall 2030. But a shortage of doctors throughout the state is also pushing the institution to find quicker solutions to address that growing problem.
“We have to come up with a bold way to fix this problem,” Keel said, announcing a new initiative called 3+3+6, which shortens medical school to three years and links those medical students with three-year primary care residencies in Georgia. A commitment to practice in rural Georgia for six years grants those students a tuition-free medical degree.
President Keel emphasized throughout his speech the institution’s top priority of students and patients, including the recently opened Nurse-Managed Health Center, the opening of the School of Computer and Cyber Sciences and the new relationship with University Hospital Oncology.
“We just announced a wonderful partnership with our friends across the street at University Hospital to bring together our two strengths and form a cancer treatment program,” Keel said. “It’s going to dramatically increase the number of patients we see, and that fits in beautifully with our plan to become an NCI Designated Cancer Center.”
Looking ahead, Keel called attention to the uniqueness brought to the university after consolidation and the chance to take advantage of that uniqueness by further bridging the arts and sciences.
“We are only held back by our own lack of imagination,” he said.
Building on the idea of expanding the university’s perception as a destination campus, Keel drew attention to the fact that construction of the new College of Science and Mathematics building will begin this summer, bringing with it more undergraduate students who will start to spread their time around the different AU campuses.
The university also hopes to build a third residence hall, with Keel calling attention to the current residence halls’ 104% occupancy.
Keel ended his address by simplifying what the university does down to three simple points: Augusta University educates students, does research and saves lives.
You can browse more images from the event on Augusta University’s photoshelter.