James.qxp Jan Feb 2019 web - Page 38

professional careers in all these schools. For example, our
Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in I.T. have distinct concentrations in cybersecurity, a national and state priority,
and one for which we are in discussions with the new
Army Academy in Augusta regarding potential partnerships. Middle Georgia State is ready for a fast-changing
professional world in the region and state and able to
deliver professional degrees that equip our graduates to
lead their fields.
KENT Free expression should be a value that is essential
to the mission of higher education. Is your institution
committed to protecting open campus discourse by fostering, for example, campus speakers representing various viewpoints?
BLAKE Yes, the right of free speech and expression is
absolutely imperative to our community of scholars and
learners. We are in the process of reviewing policies to
ensure they reflect best practices and legal standards, and
also implementing ways in which students can experience
and express the full range of ideas, beliefs and insights
that a university-educated mind must encounter. As a
community that lives out the principles of democracy, it is
vital we model best practice in that— including dialogue,
empathy, respect, courtesy. Those are essential modes for
free expression, sadly omitted from much public and politi-
cal discourse. I believe passionately in the old Bruner
adage, “you can teach anything to anyone, given a courteous translation.” Today’s universities must be places of
open and free expression and environments of etiquette
and tolerance, without anger, rancor and violence.
KENT The costs of college alone can present a very real
stumbling block for students, and the ultimate focus of
affordability is tuition. What are your thoughts on how
Georgia and specifically your institution can provide an
affordable, high-quality education?
BLAKE We start at an advantage. We are the most affordable university in the state. A typical four-year Bachelor’s
degree before any aid will cost about $20K in tuition and
fees. That is an amazing value. Even our niche Aviation
program is about one third of the costs of other public
and private Aviation universities in the south east. But
we cannot be complacent. Our students have lives that
combine study, work and family life and they do not have
deep pockets. Last year our Foundation awarded over
$350K in scholarships to support students, and we will
continue to grow our scholarship programs. The national
picture of student debt— $1.5 trillion— is appalling. I
believe places like MGA offer the model of the future for
college costs. Affordability with a clear return-of-investment is the value commitment we must maintain. •


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