Written by Juston Lewis, Staff Writer
Interim president Dr. Kelli Brown said she’s always thinking about how her decisions can make VSU better.
Dr. Brown was named interim president of VSU in May and began the position on June 1. With her appointment, she is the first female president, interim or not for university.
“It is an honor and I will say it’s something that I’m sometimes shy about,” Dr. Brown said. “It says that if you work hard you can accomplish the goals that you would like to accomplish. That goes for males or females.”
Dr. Brown credited the people that gave her opportunities when she was in college for driving her to accomplish her goals. She also said that helping students gaining post-secondary degrees was a big factor in her trying to help VSU.
“We’ve got great faculty and staff here who are very passionate and committed in what they do. Our next step is getting students here and keeping them here.”
Brown said that student retention was a major goal of hers and she is starting initiatives that would increase that.
“A lot of students don’t make it to their sophomore year. They come for their freshman year and go somewhere else,” Brown said. “I think I can help facilitate conversations to get students to come here and graduate here four years later.”
Dr. Brown said that every day when she comes in to work she always thinks about what she can do to make things better for students.
“We have to understand the value of a college education,” Brown said. “It can change the trajectory of entire families.”
Dr. Brown was not a first generation college student but she came from a family where her mother and grandparents did not go to college. Dr. Brown’s father was a first generation college student and he instilled into her the value of college. Dr. Brown and all of her siblings went on to college and now their families all have the opportunity to go to college just because her father was a first generation college student.
“We cannot put a price tag on it but we just have to make sure that those that are first generation or not first generation have a good college degree,” Brown said.
Dr. Brown felt that graduation was a huge success last year and said VSU will do the same style graduation this December where it will be held on the front lawn. Brown also said that when it came to changes “sometimes you have to make a decision.”
“I try to be as inclusive as possible,” Brown said. “I think I have a good working relationship with SGA president Maya Mapp and work closely with Vice President of Student Affairs Vince Miller. I try to involve the people that are affected and involved in major decisions but sometimes somebody has to make a decision, and that’s what presidents are asked to do.”
Dr. Brown said she tries to be very “thoughtful” and think through things that effect VSU.
“When I make decisions I think about how will this effect VSU and not just for today but how it will impact the future.”
Dr. Brown believes in the future of VSU and thinks that it is headed in the right direction.
“I want everybody to know that I am always thinking about how we can make sure this institution is the best and students are succeeding,” Dr. Brown said “I really do truly believe in what we are doing here.”
There is a current search for a permanent president for the university being conducted by the Georgia Board of Regents. In prior years’ interims were not allowed to apply but at the most recent Board of Regents meeting the board waived that policy. Dr. Brown said she has applied for that position of full time president here.