Face Off: The next phase of education

Face Off: The next phase of education

2022-07-11T06:03:48-04:00January 25th, 2022|Atlanta, Education|

Writer: Jerrica DuBois

2 min read January 2022 — As all industries continue to work through the uncertainty of the pandemic, the education sector consistently finds itself reevaluating and making quick decisions to adjust. The end goal is what is in the best interest of the student, but there isn’t always one route to get there. Richard Phillips, dean of J. Mack Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University, and Nicholas Ladany, president of Oglethorpe University, shared their thoughts with Focus: on the future of higher education and its impact on the economy and community.

How is Georgia State University addressing the gaps in higher education?

Richard Phillips: Student success is in our DNA. U.S. News & World Report ranked Georgia State as the second-most innovative university in the country for 2021. We earn this reputation nationally in large part because of our work supporting students of all backgrounds, particularly students coming from low-income households who otherwise struggle in higher education. As a result, 80 percent of all freshmen who start at Georgia State will graduate with a bachelor’s degree from here or another college or university in the United States within six-year years. Given our demographics and based on industry data of peer universities, our six-year graduation rate should be half that number.

What are you doing to diversify revenues?

Nicholas Ladany: We continue to diversify our revenue streams. We’ve been very successful in attracting the film and television industry to film on campus. We have historic architecture on campus that lends itself to Harry Potter-like films. We also welcomed Ron Howard’s “Hillbilly Elegy” and a Disney project. Our financial success is largely due to our responsiveness. We don’t have a lot of red tape and we don’t spend on bureaucracy. We invest in our students and diversifying our revenue can help them in the long run, such as increasing our ability to offer additional tuition assistance. 

How have the expectations and demands of students shifted?

 Phillips: While the MBA continues to be the largest graduate program that we offer, a big shift we see in the market is the demand for education in analytics. Robinson’s M.S. in Data Science & Analytics is now our second-largest program. The M.S. in Data Science & Analytics had its first three graduates in 2015, and the program now has almost 300 enrolled students. The program is ranked among the top 20 in the nation and among the top 10 for public universities.

Ladany: We still have big demand for business-focused academic programs, big demand for the sciences and biology in particular, and big demand for arts and theater. Our enrollment continues to increase. I think this is because we are offering something that is unique. We provide the kind of environment that allows students to succeed and when they stumble, someone’s there to help them through it and to help them learn from it. We put a big emphasis on resilience. In fact, our motto is, Nescit Cedere or “those who don’t know how to give up.” 

What is your outlook for Atlanta’s education sector and the institute for the next 12 to 18 months?

Phillips: I’m excited about Georgia State’s trajectory and how it mirrors Atlanta’s trajectory. Atlanta is emerging as a technological hub for the Southeast. Within Robinson, our focus on innovation differentiating ourselves in the digital era matches Atlanta’s focus becoming the Silicon Valley of the South. What’s attracting companies like Microsoft and Google to invest in Atlanta is the desire to have diverse talent in the technological sector. They’re building campuses here to draw the attention of that talent pool. I’m very excited about the future possibilities as our investments and the needs of Atlanta employers synergize over time.

Ladany: I think Oglethorpe is in a great place. We’re continuing to grow. We’re looking to continue to be a national model for a small, liberal arts university in all we do. We differentiate and distinguish ourselves and we want to be a model university. If we do it right and offer what students want, more students will want to come to Oglethorpe and to Atlanta — and stay here.

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