The weather outside signals that the change of seasons is upon us, and here in Atlanta we know that this means a glorious springtime is on the horizon. It is only a matter of weeks until the azaleas are in bloom and the Georgia landscape is stunningly beautiful.
As the weather changes for the better, I am made mindful of the fact there also are changes on the horizon for higher education. For example, there are changes coming to university instructional models resulting from new and emerging communications and information technologies. Just last month, we hosted Paul Courant, a distinguished faculty member, University Librarian and Dean of the Libraries at the University of Michigan, for a conversation on the future of academic libraries. In that conversation Professor Courant and I covered a lot of fertile ground as we explored the multitude of factors that are shaping both the future of academic libraries and the future of scholarly publishing. You can find a video of that conversation here.
I see a day in the not too distant future when many of our courses will be offered in several different formats. Some offerings will retain the traditional classroom lecture, while others will combine technology-assisted delivery of content with face-to-face guidance from faculty. We may also see a "challenge" model where a student will receive course credit by demonstrating mastery of the subject matter and modes inquiry through a well-defined evaluation process. One possibility for this mode will be the use of the growing catalog of open courseware being developed at MIT and elsewhere to provide highly motivated students the opportunity receive credit for material mastered independently. In addition, tablet devices, like the ubiquitous iPad, promise to revolutionize "textbooks" and the delivery of academic content.
As new technologies emerge and mature, and as GSU faculty explore and develop new methods of using these technologies in teaching, we can expect to see numerous benefits. Students will be less constrained by the course schedule in taking the courses that truly interest them to fulfill the requirements for the desired degree. Likewise, students will be better able to select the mode of instruction that best supports the learning style most effective for them. This transition will take much work, but the results promise to be more and better learning.
I am pleased to announce that the keynote speaker for our May commencement ceremony will be Vicki Escarra. She is a GSU graduate, and serves as president and CEO of Feeding America, the nation's leading domestic hunger-relief charity, which has provided food to more than 37 million Americans in need through a network of more than 200 food banks. Prior to joining Feeding America, Ms. Escarra had a distinguished career with Delta Air Lines, where she advanced through the ranks and ultimately became Delta's Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer. I'm certain that her message will be inspiring, so I look forward to seeing many of you at the May commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 6, at 2 p.m. in the Georgia Dome.
Mark P. Becker