New UNG President outlines ‘big bets’


“University of North Georgia (UNG) President Michael Shannon (Tuesday) released a white paper outlining seven strategic “big bets” to position UNG to meet the needs of its students, communities, the state, and the nation. See the full white paper and a video about the white paper

“We are part of the University System of Georgia, one of the strongest public university systems in the country. We are a State Leadership Institution, the Military College of Georgia, and are one of only six senior military colleges in the nation,” Shannon said. “UNG is an incredible university, steeped in tradition, with tremendous opportunity, value and promise. We have something here at UNG that no one else does and we need to deliver it.” 

He formed the strategy through feedback gained in his 45-day listening tour, as well as other conversations with students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community members since starting as UNG president July 1. The seven strategic big bets are: 

·         Accelerate the fine arts and entertainment: The president outlines UNG’s potential to accelerate the positioning of its programs to prepare students for high-impact jobs in Georgia’s exploding film industry, game design and virtual entertainment. 

·         Supercharge workforce development: To address critical shortages of healthcare workers, teachers, business leaders, and agricultural leaders in Georgia, Shannon highlights the need for industry partnerships, accelerated paths, competency-based approaches, and innovative delivery of degree requirements, including online options. 

·         Expand the STEM value proposition: The president notes the essential nature of UNG’s undergraduate research experiences and ability to produce college graduates who have a strong foundation in science, who can integrate information across disciplines, and who are critical thinkers and problem-solvers. 

·         Get in the national security game: Shannon emphasizes the importance of UNG’s Corps of Cadets and cybersecurity, computer science, strategic languages, criminal justice, international affairs, public administration, strategic and security studies, logistics, and spatial data and information science academic programs in preparing graduates who can join the national security workforce. 

·         Design and build a leadership foundry: The president discusses the need for co-curricular leadership opportunities that allow students to develop into the best version of themselves, as well as similar programs for faculty and staff development that enable these mentors to grow their impact in developing students’ competencies in these areas. 

·         Deliver the Corps of Cadets of the future: Shannon outlines plans for Cadet Leadership Academy, growing the corps to 1,000, cutting-edge holistic health and fitness programs, building ultra-modern infrastructure, and re-imagining funding systems to meet this goal. 

·         Build the most competitive, value-added Division II athletics program in the nation: The president calls for increased synergy between the Department of Athletics, Corps of Cadets, and College of Health Sciences and Professions. He also notes the need for innovation, forward thinking and a focus on revenue-generating opportunities. 

Shannon said these big bets are necessary to meet the dual challenges of fewer college-age students in 2025-2030 and a lower college consumption rate even as high school graduation rates increase. 

“When you bet, you are taking a risk. Although there is risk, we can also be confident the hand we are holding is better and stronger than that of our competitors and we will win. And we all know that we can’t win if we don’t play the game and make the bets,” Shannon said. “These seven big bets rally the entire university community to create a more compelling, vibrant, and curated student experience.”