Although the ink is barely dry on the newly adopted three-year strategic plan, faculty and staff in the Office of Global Programs already are attacking the plan’s priorities, according to OGP Director Amrit Bart.
“The overall goal of our planning process, which began in 2014, was to establish a plan with clear and achievable strategies that would address the mission and vision of this office,” Bart said. “From the very start, we involved many stakeholders to ensure that the final product met the expectations and needs of not only our students and faculty, but also of those throughout Georgia who benefit from international ties.”
The strategic plan identifies four specific goals as being key to increasing and sustaining student and faculty involvement in global programs:
Greater diversity of programs with increased depth and impact for both students and faculty; enhancing OGP’s visibility as a way of ensuring that faculty and students are aware of its programs and services; increasing OGP’s involvement throughout the university; and strengthening and diversifying the OGP funding base.
Early accomplishments have included establishing a new faculty travel-funding program that already has allowed 17 CAES faculty to give keynote lectures at international conferences; to work with university faculty in China, Kenya and Honduras on efforts to improve and protect the health and safety of crops and animals; and to travel to countries to develop research partnerships to address threats to important crops in Georgia, including grapes and blueberries. This seed-funding also has led to faculty members working with international scholars to share graduate students, joint-submission of grant proposals, and co-authorship of scientific manuscripts.
In addition to faculty, OGP supports an international travel funding program to encourage graduate students to conduct international research and make presentations at international conferences. This year, for example, two students were able to attend the annual World Food Prize conference held annually in Iowa.
“It’s exciting to be able to quickly establish programs that enhance our faculty and students’ international contacts, but that really is just the tip of the iceberg in regards to our strategic plan,” Bart said.
“Too often strategic plans become dust catchers that sit on a shelf. In the case of the Office of Global Programs, we’re referring to our plan on a daily basis as we decide how to reach our goals,” he added. “We are laying the groundwork for partnerships that will impact the University of Georgia from a student’s first day of class to a faculty member’s entire career.”
(Merritt Melancon is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)