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March 20, 2013

VSU prepares for President McKinney’s inauguration

VALDOSTA — To officially ring in Valdosta State University’s newest president Dr. William McKinney’s tenure, a week-long series of events is being held in his honor to recognize his official inauguration.

McKinney became VSU’s ninth president on July 1, 2012. As a nationally recognized teacher, scholar, and academic leader, McKinney has extensive experience in higher education leadership and has brought an enthusiasm to make VSU not only a state leader, but a national leader in higher education. It is this goal that surrounds his inaugural theme of engaged innovation.

“If you look at the structure of that week, it focuses on the students, the faculty and the community,” said McKinney.

Symbolically, an inauguration is the authority of VSU being given to McKinney by University System of Georgia Chancellor Hank Huckaby.

“The inaugural is a jumping off-point,” said McKinney.

While McKinney is no longer “jumping off” — as April 1 will mark his ninth month as president — the inauguration marks for him something different.

“Some presidents have their inauguration in September and November,” said VSU first lady Dacia Charlesworth. “Bill said no, I want to have time to get to know the community.”

For McKinney and Charlesworth, this inauguration is a thank you to the community that has rallied behind them, but also, it’s a declaration of McKinney’s vision for VSU.

From day one, McKinney has been clear that he wants to help make VSU a national leader. That is why he has actively become a part of a conversation on higher education at a national level by being elected to boards such as the Association of American Colleges and Universities, the Presidents’ Trust for Liberal Education and America’s Promise, and the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning.

With his participation in boards such as the Georgia Commerce’s Education and Workforce Development Committee, and the Georgia Council on Economic Education, McKinney has focused on VSU’s impact on the state and at the local level.

“What I see for VSU in terms of its place in higher education ... is VSU will be the university that prepares its students for the world of work,” said McKinney.

He believes higher education isn’t just about self-betterment, but the betterment of one’s community. He’s taken time to learn the community and now he is prepared to get involved in conversations concerning things such as poverty and even health care.

“Valdosta State must and will play a role to address those things,” said McKinney.

So while for most presidents an inauguration is a declaration of their intentions, for McKinney — whose intentions have been clear from the get-go — it’s about celebrating VSU’s present accomplishments and future ambitions.

“It’s not about just Bill,” said Charlesworth. “It’s about VSU’s past, present and future.”

Charlesworth diligently gathered a team to accomplish the vision.

The Inauguration Team, which began meeting in September, consists of 41 members who are broken into different sub-committees handling various components of the inauguration. Each event works to accomplish what McKinney feels a university should do: address the spiritual, physical and psychological aspects of its students, faculty and staff.

“This is to put the spotlight on the university,” said McKinney.

The costs associated with VSU’s inauguration activities are primarily being paid through corporate and individual sponsorships administered through the VSU Foundation.

“Currently, there has been $29,829.80 spent through the Showcase University Events account, which is an annual budget item established several years ago to cover expenses associated with high-profile university events,” said Thressea Boyd, VSU director of communications.

Boyd said VSU does not have a final budget for the week of activities. Many of the events, particularly for students, are free, while others are intended as fundraisers for the university and require advance purchase of tickets.

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