President Talks with Campus at Annual Institute Address
President G.P. “Bud” Peterson addressed the campus Thursday, Aug. 30, in his 10th Annual Institute Address, identifying both the challenges facing Georgia Tech and the people, programs, and facilities that are the foundation of the Institute.
Nearly 400 students, faculty, and staff gathered for the annual Institute Address, filling Room 152 of Clough Commons and overflowing into the room next door. The event was also streamed online.
Peterson began by introducing some of the new appointments to senior-level positions including Chaouki Abdallah, the incoming executive vice president for Research who begins Sept. 4. He then addressed the ethics-related news and concerns head-on.
“Georgia Tech has been in the news, and it has not been good,” he said, referring to reviews released in July detailing conflicts of interest and misuse of funds by high-ranking employees. Those reviews came in response to employee submissions to Ethicspoint, Tech’s anonymous reporting tool for ethics concerns. In addition to being shared on Georgia Tech’s news site and via email from President Peterson, external media also reported on the violations.
Peterson took responsibility for what has happened under his leadership, and vowed to fix it.
“I have been embarrassed, and I’m sure you have been embarrassed,” he said. He reviewed some of what has already been done to address ethics concerns, such as adjustments to Tech’s organizational structure. That includes having an interim vice president for Ethics, Compliance, and Legal Affairs reporting directly to the president. An email to the campus on Aug. 20 shared a report Peterson prepared for University System of Georgia Chancellor Steve Wrigley, detailing the progress made so far and what else is underway.
Peterson also talked about how Georgia Tech is working with the University of North Georgia’s BB&T Center for Ethical Leadership, which will administer a campus-wide ethics survey in September to ask for feedback on the Institute’s ethical culture and how comfortable members of the community feel in reporting concerns.
He continued by emphasizing some of the exceptional people, programs, and facilities at Georgia Tech. He recognized Donald “DJ” Jordan, a fourth-generation landscaper. Peterson also announced that our Facilities Management Group was recently awarded the 2018 APPA Award for Excellence, which is the highest honor in higher education for outstanding achievements in facilities management. “We appreciate everything you all do to keep our facilities running and keep us operating,” he said.
Peterson also noted other highlights from the past year, including work from the Commission on Creating the Next in Education, the expansion of resources for cell manufacturing, and construction projects that are underway or soon will be.
He concluded his address with an update on the work of A Path Forward — Together, which was initiated nearly a year ago after Tech student Scout Schultz was fatally shot by a campus police officer. The shooting and its aftermath led to the creation of several action teams to recommend improvements for student mental health, campus culture, and LGBTQIA community support.
Nearly 200 recommendations came out of the initial action team meetings, which were then grouped into three focus areas and dispersed to those on campus who would lead implementation. Among these are an intake center for student mental health, an expanded LGBTQIA Resource Center, and the inaugural Graduate Student Welcome event that took place earlier this week.
More will be shared about all three areas at events next week:
- Sept. 4: (11 a.m., Room 102, Clough Commons)
- Sept. 6: (11 a.m., Student Center Theater)
- Sept. 11: (11 a.m., Room 102, Clough Commons)
“We have the chance to change the culture here and improve it,” he said.
See the full presentation at president.gatech.edu.