Dr. Phil Gunter, VSU’s new provost and vice president for academic affairs (VPAA), will face a number of challenges in his new position, include impending budget cuts, the retention rate of transfer students, and the openings of the school’s newest buildings, the Jerry and Kay Jennett Lecture Hall, and the Psychology and Counseling Building.
Gunter, who has served as the interim provost for the past year, was given the official title of VPAA by President Patrick J. Schloss on Dec.13. The job of the VPAA includes the administration of all undergraduate and graduate programs, and supervision of all academic affairs, including the Graduate School, Division of Social Work, and Library and Informational Science.
Gunter has been at VSU since 1993, when he joined the faculty as an associate professor. He was promoted to Dean of the Dewar College of Education in 2003.
As part of Gunter’s new position as provost, he on the Planning and Budget Committee, which creates new strategic budget plans every year for the president to approve.
“I am very honored to serve this university,” Gunter said. “It was a very good outcome and competition, and I’m ready for another challenging year.”
This month, Gov. Nathan Deal said the Georgia University System is facing another round of budget cuts, On the table is a total of $747 million in possible cuts to programs for school nurses, transportation and other areas of education. Although Deal’s budget gives colleges $30 million more this fiscal year through the Quality Basic Education Act, state funding is low because there isn’t any more federal stimulus money.
VSU‘s Planning and Budget Committee is preparing for the possible cuts at its meeting Friday. This isn’t the first budget cut that VSU has faced, and Gunter hopes that VSU will rise through the challenge.
“Last year we had to deal with the budget cuts and it went unnoticed,” Gunter said. “The students and the faculty didn’t feel the bite as greatly as they could because of the PBC. We have received new information from the Board of Regents, so we want to put them into the plan.”
Gunter also feels that the leadership of the students and faculty has helped with all of the challenges the school has faced due to the budget cuts.
“We have a good system here,” Gunter said. “We have an SGA representative on the PBC, a great faculty and with President Schloss’ leadership, the pieces all fit together.”
Gunter is also preparing for the opening of Jennett Hall on Jan. 31 at 10 a.m. The new hall is attached to the Education Building and will serve as a lecture hall for all types of classes.
Business students will be the first to experience classes in Jennett Hall, starting this fall. The building includes two auditorium-style classrooms, holding 350 students each. The hall was named in honor of Jerry and Kay Jennett’s philanthropic contributions to VSU.
The Psychology and Counseling building is currently under construction and should be complete by May, Gunter said. The new building will be an improvement because it moves several programs to the center of campus, he said.