Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

April 26, 2011

Schloss leaving Valdosta State

VALDOSTA — After almost three years as Valdosta State University president, Dr. Patrick J. Schloss announced Monday afternoon that he will be leaving the university to begin employment as the special assistant to the executive vice chancellor for retention, progression, and graduation for the University System of Georgia.

His employment with the university will finish at the end of June.

“It’s kind of bittersweet for me,” said Schloss. “It’s a big mission and important, but at the same time, I love VSU. It’s the finest regional university that I know of. It’s a great school with a great staff, faculty and some incredible students.”

At his new position, Schloss will assist in increasing retention and graduation rates in 35 colleges across the University System of Georgia.

“We’re taking a major initiative to change those who are beginning their college careers or their bachelor’s degrees and at some turn decide that it’s not for them and lose their way to higher education,” said Schloss. “It’s very typical for schools to lose 25-50 percent of their students by the time they reach graduation age. We’re going to try and turn that around.”

According to Schloss, the new position will not offer a significant pay increase but will allow him more time to spend with his family.

“With campus responsibility, the burden can be a little higher,” said Schloss. “I’ve got eight grandchildren and three of them I’ve only met once for a day. But when there’s all sorts of things on a campus like when the residential halls were flooded, you’ve got to ensure loved ones that we take care of their children.”

Schloss first began at the university in August 2008, about the same time the national and local economic recession began.

“No one could have predicted that the economy could go so bad so quickly,” said Schloss. “The day I got here, we had a meeting to celebrate the TitleTown (USA) nomination. About an hour later, we had a meeting to appropriate three percent of the budget. We had about a dozen meetings to accommodate for these losses.”

Despite the sagging economy and losing approximately 40 of their state appropriations, Schloss is proud of achievements made by university faculty and staff.

“One of the biggest accomplishments we made was the accreditation visit last year that went through without a single comment addressing need or change,” said Schloss. “There’s no doubt in my mind that VSU is the university of choice for a residential student. We have one of the finest environments on any campus and it’s a perfect size for the community.”

During Schloss’ time at VSU, about 80 tenure-track faculty members have been added, more than a million dollars in scientific equipment has been added, four academic buildings with a combined cost of more than $50 million have been constructed and student enrollment has grown by approximately 1,600 students.

One of the changes Schloss is most proud of is the increase in wages that many staff employees experienced.

“VSU has had this history of low wages for entering employees in semi-skilled positions,” said Schloss. “Obviously, they’re wonderful people, that goes without saying, but it just struck us that there’s no reason to make those jobs (custodial, library collection management) minimum wage jobs in the way they were being performed. We were able to re-classify those positions to a greater level of autonomy, at no cost to the university or the state.”

Schloss believes that the integrated master plan begun by previous president Dr. Ronald Zaccari will keep the university infrastructure in tune with what is needed.

A replacement for Schloss has not been announced, but the University System of Georgia is in the process of finding another president for VSU.

“I believe VSU faces fewer challenges than most regional universities in the country because it shows continued growth and development,” said Schloss. “The faculty and staff are first rate. The expectation with higher education is to do more with less. We’re going to ensure that doesn’t come against quality. I’m pretty comfortable in saying that we’ve improved quality for incoming students.”

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