Tag Archives: Gretchen Caughman

Provost Perspective: Professional Activity Capture Tool

If you’re a faculty member or someone assisting an academic department, you’ve probably heard about the impending rollout of the Professional Activity Capture Tool (PACT), an online information management system that gives us a single database for faculty information.

I realize just how often we ask faculty for the same information, and while the reasons for asking are certainly important, we understand how disruptive these requests can be to your already busy schedules. With PACT, we are now able to have a single source of information on faculty that will help us, and you, produce reports for the annual review process, promotion and tenure review and accreditation while also providing a faculty database that can be used by both internal and external audiences.

One tool with several uses meeting multiple needs.

Perhaps the most exciting aspect of this tool, which comes to us from Digital Measures, is our ability to customize the information fields. Each college and department has its own individual needs, and our ability to tailor the information ensures that we can be responsive to everyone – faculty, departments and the university as a whole.

Teams have already begun working with people at the department level, and training will continue throughout October. While I understand why there might be some skepticism that one tool can handle all these different aspects of reporting, and maybe even a little frustration that we’re kicking this off during the hectic early days of the semester, please understand that the ultimate goal is to take work off your plates, giving you more time to do the things you need to do for your students, your research and your professional development.

Once the information is inputted, only routine updates will be required.

The best way to understand how PACT can help you is to learn more about it, so I’m including a list of resources, which you can also find at the Institutional Effectiveness web page.

Click here to view my short video highlighting the benefits of PACT, here to access the full training manual, or here for a quick reference guide.

As always, I thank you for all you do to make this university a place we can all be proud of.

Faculty prepares for upcoming year at kickoff event

As provost, Dr. Gretchen Caughman frequently addresses faculty concerning issues involving the university, but seldom does she get the opportunity to speak to as many at one time as she did last week at the faculty kickoff meeting at the Maxwell Theatre.

There, Caughman kicked off the new academic year by presenting a long list of priorities while also emphasizing the importance of teamwork and getting to know fellow faculty members.

“No matter how long you’ve been here, and I might have been here longer than anybody, there’s somebody you don’t know,” she said. “And I think you should try to speak to at least five people you don’t know before you leave today. Make some new friends. These are colleagues, and we are in this together.”

Later, after talking about the importance of the University Senate, introducing new faculty and sharing the stage with Augustus, the new Jaguar mascot, Caughman presented President Brooks Keel.

“The opportunity to come back home and be the main cheerleader for both your undergraduate and your graduate universities is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I’m excited to be here,” he said. “And I really do see that one of my primary roles is to be a cheerleader, to try to serve as the mouthpiece to tell the world about the wonderful things that you, the faculty of this great university, do here.”

When it came to the point where he would normally start talking about vision, however, Keel stopped.

“I don’t have a vision,” he said. “I can’t bring you a vision for this university – that’s something that we together have to decide. We together have to work on the vision of Georgia Regents University, and we together have to be in the position to carry out that vision.”

Then, he highlighted some areas of importance, including the Cyber Institute, making GRU a destination campus and using the strong performing arts culture on the Summerville Campus as a driver to help recruit business and industry to the community.

“You are the heart and soul of this university,” he concluded. “We have a lot of challenges ahead of us. But I’m up for the challenges, and I know you are, too.”

Click here to watch a video of the entire presentation.

2015 Freshman Convocation welcomes students in style

Few events in an individual’s life resonate quite as strongly as going to college.

For many, the first day is an initiation – a rite of passage that ushers students from the perceived worries of their youth into the realities of adulthood. For others, it is a challenge – a test of ability in which winners are determined through grade point averages and certificates of merit. And for some, it is simply the next in a long line of forward-looking steps.

On Aug. 14, Georgia Regents University welcomed hundreds of new freshmen into the fold with a day of celebration and learning as part of the 2015 Freshman Convocation. Introduced by Dr. Gretchen Caughman, President Brooks Keel also greeted students, providing encouragement and welcoming the class of 2019 to the GRU family as one newcomer to another.

“You and I have many things in common,” said Keel. “I am just starting my time here at GRU, so in many ways, I am a freshman as well.”

Keel extolled the value of graduating within four years and praised faculty both for their care and dedication to the art of teaching.

Following Keel’s speech, Col. Sam Anderson, garrison commander of Fort Gordon, took the stage to speak to students about the importance of being leaders.

“In many ways, you are already role models,” said Anderson. “Over the course of the next four years, your job is to determine what kind of role model you want to be. What kind of leader do you want to be?”

Anderson concluded with a quote from Adm. William H. McRaven, whose original speech at the 2014 commencement of the University of Texas at Austin has gained worldwide attention on YouTube.

“Know that life is not fair and that you will fail often,” said Anderson, quoting his former boss. “But if you take some risks, step up when the times are the toughest, face down the bullies, lift up the downtrodden and never, ever give up. If you do these things, the next generation, and the generations that follow, will live in a far better world than today.”

Following Anderson came the presenter students were most looking forward to hearing from: GRU sophomore Lucas “Luke” Street. Having worked as a Retreat Week Leader, a Peer Mentor and Orientation Leader, Street has encouraged dozens of new students to find new ways to get involved on campus.

In addition to general tips about being a freshman, Street offered incoming students a few pieces of important advice.

“Get involved, make friends, be true to yourself, make memories,” said Street. “Those really speak for themselves, don’t they? That’s as much as I can say about them.”

Provost’s Perspective: New Leadership

First of all, let me take a moment to welcome everyone to the campus of Georgia Regents University and the start of the new academic year. Not only am I excited to see our returning students and the energy they bring as they pursue their academic goals, I am deeply honored that so many freshmen and their families have entrusted their university experience to GRU. More and more, we’re becoming a destination of choice for the best and brightest, not just here in the CSRA, but also in Georgia, the nation and even the world.

The start of the fall semester is also a time to reconnect with the faculty and staff who have chosen GRU as the place to put their special skills to use. We know there is great demand for the level of talent we’re recruiting across all our ranks, and I am grateful that so many wonderful colleagues continue to commit their time and expertise to GRU.

Of course, the excitement that came earlier this summer with Dr. Brooks Keel being tapped as the next president of GRU and CEO of GRHealth has been palpable. Dr. Keel has a thorough understanding of biomedical research, a track record of visionary leadership and a history with our legacy institutions that is second to none. As I’ve watched him meet with deans and faculty, students and staff, I’ve been impressed by his warmth and his ability to connect with the people within those positions.

It is indeed an exciting time to be at GRU.

And Dr. Keel is not the only new face who will have an impact on our organization. Indeed, we have recruited several talented individuals to fill other key roles in our university.

Undoubtedly, the person blessed with the best name is Dr. Quincy Byrdsong, our inaugural vice president for academic planning and strategic initiatives. Coming to us from Virginia Commonwealth University, he will be quarterbacking those complex initiatives that require great coordination and interaction with the colleges and different structural units. He will aid us all in ensuring that we have rigor and structure around our academic planning. Though we’ve always been conscious of that need, we feel he is perfectly suited to help colleges, departments, and faculty start framing the academic planning process even earlier, allowing us to consider the “what ifs” surrounding the development of, say, a particular program or major before the time comes to pitch it to those at a higher administration level.

Quincy also will take over some of the operational units that we see as being key to our strategic initiatives. Most visibly, as chief diversity officer, Quincy will also have responsibility for the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, an office that is very important to me personally and one that continues to be a national model. While the vice president for academic planning and strategic initiatives is new to GRU, it was developed to fulfill a number of critical functions for the institution, and it actually helped streamline our leadership ranks, since three previous positions – two active and one we were searching for – are being filled by this one role.

Dr. Zach Kelehear, our new dean of the College of Education, has only been on the job since July 1, but already he has started making strong, important connections throughout the community by reaching out to the schools, principals and superintendents in our regional education service area. Not only that, but his interaction with the faculty is already creating valuable and innovative ideas. The University of South Carolina’s loss is definitely our gain. And, if you want to start a conversation and see a gleam in Zach’s eyes, just ask him about another of his passions – beekeeping.

Speaking of the College of Education, former dean Dr. Cindi Chance continues to “fail retirement” and has agreed to return and offer her special leadership abilities to the Confucius Institute as its director. Her intense interest in global education in general and China in particular make her a natural to guide the Confucius Institute to the next stage of its existence at GRU.

I also want to take this opportunity to say a special thank you to Dr. Joe Tsien, for his pivotal work in developing and launching the Confucius Institute as its founding director. With the Institute now on strong footing, Joe, a world-renowned neuroscientist, felt it was a perfect time to focus more fully on his true passion – doing basic research in brain science.

We’re also proud that Joanne Sexton has moved into the role of Cyber Institute director. Not only does she have experience as an information technology expert for the U.S. Navy, but she has a deep understanding of our cyber education initiatives. The new institute is certainly in good hands.

And over in the Hull College of Business, we have the transition of Dean Marc Miller into the newly created role of executive director for economic development and entrepreneurial engagement. Entrepreneurship, economic development and community engagement are increasingly important institutional priorities, and we look forward to significant advances through Marc’s work in his new role. The national search for business dean will begin in the next few weeks, and I very much appreciate Mark Thompson’s service as interim dean until the position is filled.

Research administration is fortunate to have a familiar face in a new role – Dr. Alvin Terry joins SVP for Research Michael Diamond and adds strength to this critical unit as associate vice president for basic sciences. Alvin provides administrative oversight for lab animal services, as well as a number of other critical responsibilities.

And as an example of our continuing emphasis on enhancing student services at all levels, we’re happy to welcome David Barron, who, as associate vice president for enrollment services, will be over recruitment, admissions and financial aid, areas which are absolutely essential to our success.

This list is in no way comprehensive, nor does it adequately describe the intentional eye with which we’re considering our challenges. It’s simply a brief selection from a very long list of great people doing great things at our institution, and I hope to highlight more as the months go on. Please know that everyone’s efforts are valued and everyone’s dedication to our shared goal is admired. The success of Georgia Regents University requires all of us to give our best, and I’m confident our students, our patients and our community will receive no less.

Sexton to lead GRU Cyber Institute

Joanne Sexton has been named Director of the Georgia Regents University Cyber Institute. Sexton, a former information technology expert for the U.S. Navy, previously served as GRU’s director of Cyber Education Initiatives.

“Joanne’s commitment to the university and her students, as well as her knowledge of cyber will certainly help take our cyber research, education and curriculum to the next level,” said Gretchen Caughman, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs.

“Hundreds of millions of records have been involved in data breaches across the globe, and new attack methods are being launched continuously,” said Dr. Brooks Keel, GRU president. “Through our partnership with the U.S. Army Cyber Command, GRU is poised to take a national leadership role in one of the fastest-growing and most needed areas of professional development. We are confident that Joanne can help us get there.”

GRU launched the Cyber Institute in June to develop research, new curriculum and outreach opportunities in cybersecurity. The creation of the institute is a step toward gaining recognition as a Department of Homeland Security and National Security Agency National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance/Cyber Defense.

Before joining GRU, Sexton served as the first commanding officer of what is known today as Navy Information Operations Command Georgia. She has more than 20 years of information technology experience in the Navy, spanning hardware maintenance, software development and support, telecommunications services, computer center operations, software quality assurance, space operations management, project management and information security practice.

Sexton holds master’s degrees in computer science and in national and strategic studies. She is a Certified Information Systems Security Professional and has earned Global Information Assurance Certifications in several areas of cyberdefense, including security essentials, incident handling, intrusion analysis and penetration testing.

The GRU Cyber Institute provides the framework for all things cyber at the university. Current cybersecurity courses and degrees include advanced information assurance through the Hull College of Business,  medical informatics program, focused on protection of health information, through the College of Allied Health Sciences, and courses on cyberterrorism through the Pamplin College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.

Dr. Caughman welcomes President Keel

Dear Colleagues,

In the days since Dr. Brooks Keel was officially named president of Georgia Regents University and CEO of GRHealth, we have all heard him communicate openly and eloquently how thrilled and honored he is to assume leadership of the institution where he earned both his undergraduate and graduate degrees.

When he arrives on Monday, I know he will find faculty, students, staff and administrators who echo his enthusiasm and welcome him warmly home to Augusta.

It has been my privilege to lead this institution in the interim — an opportunity made even more meaningful as the first day of my interim service marked the 30th anniversary of my own arrival here on July 1, 1985, as an assistant professor of oral biology. I love that symmetry.

Over those 30 years, there’s no doubt that much has changed, but one thing remains ever the same: our steadfast commitment to delivering excellence in service to our students, patients and community.

A commitment Dr. Keel has made abundantly clear will be his top priority.

I have had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Keel on several occasions and have been impressed with his warmth, graciousness and keen intelligence. Over the past week, we have learned more about his impressive accomplishments as president of Georgia Southern, his accessible and engaged leadership approach, the genuine enjoyment he derives from personally engaging with students and faculty, and his vision for our university and health system.

All of which make me tremendously excited and optimistic for the future we will be able to create together. Please join me in welcoming President Keel.


Gretchen B. Caughman, Ph.D.
Interim President, Georgia Regents University
Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost

Miller chosen for new business role

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Marc Miller, Dean of the James M. Hull College of Business at Georgia Regents University, has been named GRU’s Executive Director of Economic Development and Entrepreneurial Engagement. He will begin this new role Aug. 1, and Hull College’s Associate Dean Mark Thompson will begin serving as the business school’s interim dean. A national search for the dean position is set to begin in August with the new academic year.

MarcMiller“Dr. Miller has been an integral part of the institution’s success for more than 15 years, and I believe this director position will be a seamless transition for him,” said Gretchen Caughman, GRU’s Interim President and Provost. “With his strong background in business administration and management, I am confident Dr. Miller will continue GRU’s reputation for excellence.”

Miller is charged with fostering economic development by expanding university relationships with off-campus communities. He will also be responsible for creating a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation within the institution’s research and academic programs.

Miller joined GRU in 2000 as an Associate Professor of Business Administration and, after six years of serving in this capacity, became the dean of the business school.

Through his leadership, Miller secured millions of dollars in major gifts that led to not only the naming of the college after philanthropist James M. Hull, but also the establishment of the university’s Knox School of Accountancy in honor of the late businessman Peter S. Knox III.

Miller is credited for Hull College’s ranking as one of the nation’s top business schools by the prestigious The Princeton Review and its distinguished accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). In addition, Miller supervised the development of GRU’s first health and science related business dual degree programs – the M.D./M.B.A. degree and the STEM-MBA Option.

Miller is an award-winning researcher with published works in the Journal of Distance Learning Administration, Interactive Business Communication Exercises and Computers in Human Behavior.

He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business administration at Augusta College before it became a part of Georgia Regents University. He also received a doctorate from Auburn University in management information systems.

Gretchen B. Caughman named Georgia Regents University Interim President

University System of Georgia (USG) Chancellor Hank Huckaby has named Dr. Gretchen B. Caughman as interim president of Georgia Regents University.

Caughman currently serves as executive vice president for academic affairs and provost at GRU. She was appointed to vice president and provost Jan. 2013. Prior to the consolidation of Augusta State University and Georgia Health Sciences University, she was appointed interim provost of the Medical College of Georgia in Sept. 2010 and became executive vice president for academic affairs and provost of Georgia Health Sciences University in June 2011. She is also a professor in the College of Dental Medicine, the Medical College of Georgia (Medicine) and the Graduate School at GRU.

She will begin her new assignment on July 1, following the departure of President Ricardo Azziz.

“I’m very pleased to name Dr. Caughman as interim president of GRU,” said Chancellor Hank Huckaby. “She has a wealth of experience and a deep commitment to the success of Georgia Regents. Her appointment will allow for a successful transition as GRU prepares for the next phase of its success as Georgia’s premiere health sciences institution.”

During her tenure as provost at GRU, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion was established, the Division of Institutional Effectiveness was created, the Institute of Public and Preventive Health and GRU Leadership Academy were launched, and the newly formed Georgia Regents University was accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. She recently launched the GRU Cyber Institute and currently serves as chair of the University System of Georgia system-wide Cybersecurity Initiative Consortium.

Caughman has had a long career serving higher education in Augusta, Ga. She began her career at the Medical College of Georgia (now a part of GRU) in 1985 as an assistant professor of oral biology with appointments as assistant professor in the Schools of Dentistry and Graduate Studies in 1988.

She has also had appointments as associate professor in cellular biology and anatomy in the School of Medicine, associate dean of the School of Graduate Studies, associate dean of graduate studies in the School of Medicine and dean of the School of Graduate Studies.

Caughman received her undergraduate degree in biochemistry from Clemson University (South Carolina) and her Ph.D. in basic and clinical immunology and microbiology from the Medical University of South Carolina (Charleston). She completed a three-year National Cancer Institute Individual Postdoctoral Fellowship in herpesvirology at the University of Mississippi (Jackson).

Provost Perspective: Summer Programs

While summer is a time for relaxing with friends and family as well as laying the necessary and important groundwork for the academic year that follows, it also provides our institution a wonderful opportunity for community outreach.

Thanks to the dedication of our legacy institutions, Georgia Regents University has several longstanding and respected summer programs that have made our school a destination of choice for students at all levels.

For over a decade, area parents have come to rely on Kids University to provide quality programming for students in elementary and middle school. This year, we’ve added a STEM-U program for grades 6-8, and it’s proved so popular we’re considering adding a couple of extra weeks. These programs average about 95 kids a week, and we’ve found many of these students end up going all the way through the pipeline, starting as students, becoming counselors in training, then student assistants, and finally full-fledged students at GRU.

GRU also hosts music conservatory programs and athletic camps, which continue to expose area students to the varied opportunities available at our institution while at the same time helping them follow their passions and develop as individuals.

On the Health Sciences Campus, a summer enrichment program known as SEEP (Student Educational Enrichment Program) has been introducing students to health sciences research since 1970. One of the nation’s oldest pipeline programs, it provided opportunities for underserved communities long before most schools were looking in that direction, and they proudly continue that tradition. This year, 17 pre-college students and 34 college students are participating in the seven-week program, receiving college credit for their time. Even more impressive than the program’s visionary nature is its success. Eighty percent of SEEP students go into health profession programs, with many matriculating here to GRU.

What better endorsement can you find than that, both for the quality of the summer programs as well as the desirability of our university? Both are obviously highly valued by the community.

Then there is the Student Training and Research (STAR) program which has been attracting students to our graduate programs for almost a decade. Whereas SEEP is really an educational enrichment opportunity to try to orient and bolster students’ understanding of the educational aspects of a health sciences career and give them a leg up in terms of medical terminology and practices, the nine-week STAR program allows students already in college to test the waters of biomedical research in a true research environment. And don’t think we’ve forgotten research opportunities for our own undergraduates, because for the last three years, the Center for Undergraduate Research and Scholarship (CURS) Summer Scholar’s program has been giving GRU undergraduates an opportunity to get real-world research experience in a variety of different fields.

While these programs have an established and well-earned track record of success, our new summer pre-collegiate academies have really raised the bar in terms of providing targeted programming to a select group of high school students. The Health Sciences Summer Academy and the Cyber Sciences Summer Academy have brought in diverse students from around the nation for an unparalleled residential academic experience.

The quality and timely nature of these camps has turned the spotlight on GRU at a time when cyber matters in particular have been making headlines around the world. Last Thursday, we were honored to have National Security Agency Director Adm. Michael Rogers visit our cyber students and give the address for our two academies’ first graduating class, an outstanding indication of our position as an emerging leader in cyber education.

A second week of these academies, held this week, is allowing us to reach even more of these eager students, many of whom will go on to do great things in these important fields. Hopefully, the experience will convince the majority of those to choose GRU to further their education.

While the summer education we’re providing is a part of our mission, it’s certainly true that it allows us an excellent opportunity for self-promotion and recruitment. Though we’re not obnoxious about it, we definitely want to make sure these students go home with some GRU swag. It’s not a hard sell, but simply an opportunity to showcase what we are and drive home the message that GRU would be a great place for them to further their education.

As our new residence halls quickly become a reality, our ability to offer these types of summer programs will only increase. Very typically, schools with residence halls use the summer months in exactly the way we’re doing now – to establish goodwill and position themselves as academic leaders. It’s something our legacy institutions have been doing for years and GRU is proud to call one of our best traditions.

Increase in cybercrime paves way for cybersecurity investments

With the number of cyberattacks increasing and major security breaches costing big companies and the U.S. government billions of dollars a year, investing in cybersecurity is a timely decision.

“Cyber affects everyone,” said Joanne Sexton, Director for Cyber Security Educational Initiatives at GRU. “If you are connected to the Internet, this is an issue for you.”

This summer, GRU is one of 29 universities and college campuses across the country to organize and host the Cyber Sciences Summer Academy. This program will take place in two sessions starting June 21 and June 28 on the Summerville Campus. This summer academy is the result of GRU’s work with GenCyber, a program funded by the National Security Agency in partnership with the National Science Foundation.

This is the first time GRU or the Augusta area will host this kind of program,” Sexton said. “We have to teach the young minds and the public about cybersecurity. We at GRU and we as a nation have a lot of work to do.”

Recently, Chinese hackers stole personal information from about 4 million employees from virtually every U.S. government agency, officials told the media. They targeted the Office of Personnel Management, the human resources department of the U.S. government. The federal government is still assessing the impact of the cyberattack, the biggest hack to compromise federal employee data in years.

“It’s not going to be the last attack. Unfortunately, there are many,” Sexton said. “But that’s why it’s so important for us to invest in cybersecurity and learn more about it.”

Cybercrime can cost the global economy up to $575 billion per year, according to a report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies and McAfee, a computer security firm. This type of crime costs the U.S. almost $108 billion or .64 percent of the country’s gross domestic product annually. The report also estimates that about 200,000 Americans could lose their jobs due to the economic losses caused by cyberattacks.

 Cyberattacks on the rise

 Cyberattacks on large companies increased 40 percent between 2013 and 2014, according to a report by Symantec, an information technology security company based in California. Last year also broke the record for “zero-day attacks” at 24 total.

A zero-day attack refers to when cybercriminals use a hole in software to launch an attack without software developers even knowing about the flaw. The attack continues until developers learn about the flaw and launch a patch to fix it.

In the top five zero-day attacks last year, hackers took advantage of software flaws for a combined 295 days before developers fixed the problem, according to the Symantec report.

The creation of malware also went up 26 percent last year, according to the report. Nearly 1 million new pieces of malware were created per day.

Mobile threats are also up, according to a poll by CyberEdge, a security consulting company headquartered in Maryland. Almost 60 percent of the 814 information technology professionals who responded to the poll said they saw mobile threats increasing in 2014. The respondents represented 19 industries in seven countries.

Also, 71 percent of the IT professionals polled said their networks were breached in 2014. This number is up from 62 percent in 2013.

Why cybercrimes are going up

Committing a cybercrime is relatively cheap, but the rewards are high, according to the McAfee report. The risk for cybercriminals getting caught is also low.

“The rate of return on cybercrime favors the criminal,” according to the report. “The incentive is to steal more.”

Investing in cybersecurity

To fight the growing number of cyberattacks, investment in cybersecurity has also grown. The National Security Agency and the National Science Foundation, for example, are investing $4 million on GenCyber, a program that offers young students interested in cybersecurity careers opportunities to learn first-hand about the latest technology in a university setting.

“It is important to seize the imagination of young people who have an interest in this field, showing them the challenges and opportunities that await them,” said Steve LaFountain, Dean of NSA’s College of Cyber. “GenCyber camps help interested young people – from every corner of the United States and from diverse backgrounds – gain some incredible experience in this ever-changing field.”

GRU has made cybersecurity a major strategic priority because of the subject’s importance for the Augusta area and the nation, said Gretchen Caughman, Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost at GRU. The U.S. Army Cyber Command is moving its headquarters to Fort Gordon in Augusta.

“There’s a need for cybersecurity everywhere,” Caughman said. “Cyber education has to start early.”