Skip to content Skip to navigation

University of Georgia Campus Plan Update 2022

Section 1: Institutional Mission & Student Body Profile

As the birthplace of public higher education in America, the University of Georgia provides a superior teaching and learning environment that serves a diverse student body and promotes student success. The University is committed to inspiring the next generation of entrepreneurs, researchers, and informed citizens who will change the world. A land-grant and sea-grant university, it is the state’s oldest and most comprehensive institution of higher education. Its motto, “to teach, to serve, and to inquire into the nature of things,” reflects the University’s integral role in the intellectual, cultural, social, and economic strengths of both the state and the nation.

The 2021-2022 school year was one of the best in our institution’s history. To promote excellence in teaching and learning, the University expanded active learning methods in classroom instruction and hired additional faculty and advisors in high-demand fields. We achieved higher enrollment and completion rates than ever before. In addition, new scholarships are helping UGA recruit and retain top undergraduate students, while initiatives like the rural student ALL Georgia program are ensuring that more Georgians can access the world-class education we provide.

1.A: Enrollment Trends

Diagram, table Description automatically generatedAt present, the University of Georgia community includes more than 3,500 faculty and professional staff members and over 40,600 students (undergraduate, graduate, and professional, enrolled in 18 schools or colleges). It offers 24 Baccalaureate degrees in more than 140 areas.

Undergraduate enrollment at UGA grew steadily from 27,951 students in Fall 2016 to 30,166 in Fall 2021, a growth of nearly 8%. During that same period, the number of female students grew from 15,742 to 17,797 while the number of male students grew at a much smaller pace from 12,067 to 12,883. At present, women comprise approximately 58% of the undergraduate population.

Enrollment of both female and male Black/African-American students rose steadily from Fall 2016 until Fall 2020 when it began to decline which we attribute to the disruptions caused by COVID-19. Enrollment of Hispanic/Latino students, by contrast, continued to grow for both female and male students even during the height of the pandemic. In Fall 2016 the number of Hispanic/Latino students was below that of Black/African-American students, but they now outnumber the Black/African-American students, especially among men.

1.B: Student Demographics

There is no single undergraduate student profile at the University of Georgia. Rather the institution welcomes diverse students with widely varying backgrounds, interests, experiences, and challenges. The typical UGA undergraduate is of traditional age (≤ 24 years), enters as a first-year student, lives on campus for the first year, and is seeking a first undergraduate degree. In Fall 2021, the total undergraduate population numbered 30,166 students, the vast majority of whom hailed from the state of Georgia (87% vs. 12% out-of-state and 1% international). The majority of undergraduate students (94%) were enrolled full time; 58% were female; 31% (self-reported) were of racial/ethnic minority status; 25% were Pell-eligible; and 9% were first-generation. On average, the 2021 first-time, full-time cohort matriculated with 14 AP hours. In addition to fulfilling our mission to serve the entire state of Georgia, UGA is committed to recruiting, retaining, and supporting the academic success of underrepresented, first-generation, rural, and other traditionally underserved students and to increasing the affordability of a UGA degree.

1.C: Financial Aid

UGA launched the Georgia Commitment Scholarship campaign to put a UGA education within the financial reach of more residents of the state. The GCS program is a need-based scholarship program that is available to first-year undergraduate students. The scholarship, which is renewable for up to four years (8 semesters), comes with a variety of programs and resources to support student success. The total number of GCS recipients has steadily increased from 94 in AY 2017-18 to 647 in 2021-22. For the 2021-2022 academic year, the Office of Student Financial Aid disbursed a total of $388,667,024 of federal, state, institutional, and other/external programs to 29,482 unique undergraduate students (18.6% of whom received a Federal Pell Grant with over 175 students self-identifying as independent, i.e., former foster youth, wards of the court, orphans, homeless or with legal guardians). To increase affordability, UGA no longer charges students any lab and course material fees or the special institutional fee. The university believes that finding new ways to remove financial barriers for our students is part of our mission.

1.D: Student Success Metrics

Indeed, UGA is among institutions with the highest retention and graduation rates nationwide—rates that surpass those of our comparator peers and exceed or are on par with our aspirational peers (see Appendix A, Table 4). For the 2021 cohort, the University has an exceptional first-year retention rate of 94.3%, which fits comfortably within our 2010-2021 range for first-year retention of 94.1%-95.5%. Six-year completion rates have steadily risen from 84.8% for the 2010 cohort to 88.1% for the 2016 cohort. Even more noteworthy is the steady rise in the four-year completion rate from 63.1% for the 2010 cohort to 75.1% for the 2018 cohort. In addition, our excellent retention rates have decreased the average time to degree from 4.07 years (students who graduated in 2013) to 3.89 (students who graduated in 2022, see Appendix A, Table 5).

The first-year retention and six-year completion rates for Hispanic and for Black/African-American students—although they lag those for white students—have been steadily improving since 2013 (see Appendix A, Table 3.E). For the 2021 cohort, the first-year retention rates for both populations are excellent: for Black/African-American students, it is only 2.6% behind that for white students while the first-year retention rate for Hispanic students exceeds that of white students, albeit by only 0.1%. While UGA is retaining these students at rates that exceed or are on par with white students, their six-year completion rates are between 3.8% (Hispanic) to 4.8% (Black/African-American) below that of white students. UGA, with leadership in the Office of Institutional Diversity and the Office of Instruction, is bolstering support for Hispanic and Black/African-American students to close the completion rate gap.

1.E: National Reputation and Rankings

UGA’s challenging learning environment and innovative programs continue to garner national attention and recognition. The Jere W. Morehead Honors College is one of the top 10 Honors programs in the U.S. and U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Colleges” edition for this year ranked UGA 16th among public universities. The INSIGHT Into Diversity Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award recognizes colleges and universities that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion. UGA has earned this national honor every year since 2014.

Among public universities, the University of Georgia is one of the nation’s top three producers of Rhodes Scholars (26). UGA is also home to hundreds of major scholarship winners, including: 2 Churchill Scholars, 2 Beinecke Scholars, 8 Gates Cambridge Scholars, 7 Marshall Scholars, 62 Goldwater Scholars, 21 Truman Scholars, 24 Udall Scholars, 56 Boren Scholars, 6 Schwarzman Scholars, 3 Mitchell Scholars and 143 Fulbright Student Scholars. In the 2021-2022 academic year, UGA students were selected for some of the most prestigious academic awards, including the Goldwater Scholarship, the Gates Cambridge Scholarship, and the Udall Scholarship. These accomplishments indicate success in fulfilling our academic mission. They are the result of an outstanding student body as well as our longstanding investment in the student experience. UGA has prioritized faculty hiring to improve classroom instruction, enhancements in academic advising to keep students on track, and the creation of programs focused on active learning (our new QEP), mentoring, tutoring, and peer-learning to increase student success.

UGA’s comprehensive degree programs, in concert with its innovative learning environment, demonstrate that UGA—thanks to its faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends—is creating leaders who are shaping the future of our state, nation, and world.

Section 2: UGA’s Student Success Inventory

UGA’s student success inventory takes into account our specific student population, targets those areas where there are opportunities to make a significant impact, is data-informed, and zeroes in on actions and policies that suit our highly decentralized institution. Throughout the Momentum Approach process, UGA has targeted three of the five Momentum Approach components identified by USG:

Momentum Component from USG

UGA Program Created for the Component

Deepen purposeful choice of major

Orientation Intake Survey

Help students complete critical milestones

Holistic Program Maps

Maintain full momentum on a clear path

The Seven Meta-majors

UGA’s Student Success Inventory spans the student life cycle from Orientation through graduation. During their degree program, we want them to develop and hone 21st-century competencies in communication, data, and other skills that will enable them to tackle real-world problems and use critical-thinking and problem-solving skills to solve multifaceted problems that do not have simple solutions. In addition to improving our 4-year graduation rate, our overarching goals are to help each student declare the major that best fits their skills and aspirations as early as possible and then navigate that major successfully, using the Orientation Intake Survey, the Holistic Program Maps, and our seven Meta-Majors. UGA works to ensure that our graduates are prepared for their future, have academically matured during their time at UGA, and can demonstrate that they possess the deep and sustained involvement, passion, and dedication that employers seek and that life in the 21st century requires.

2.A: Orientation Intake Survey to Deepen Purposeful Choice of Major

Activity/Project Overview or Description

The Orientation Intake Survey results in a better advising appointment during Orientation and prompts students to assess confidence in their intended major such that they receive guidance on making a purposeful choice before they even register for classes.

Activity/Project Activity Status (where is this in process?).

Fully implemented at scale; UGA will maintain this effort for the foreseeable future.

Evaluation/Assessment plan (Key Performance Indicators, assessment plan, anticipated time period, reporting and review)

Evaluation Plan and measures:

We will continue 1) to revise the survey as needed with input from Academic Advisors; 2) to inform students about the importance of completing the survey before their Orientation session; 3) work with stakeholders to have 100% of all first-time full-time students, continuing dual enrollment students, and all transfer students complete the survey.

Progress and Adjustments

Every year we have tweaked the survey to get additional information as needed.

Plan for the year ahead

This year we added a few questions about housing and food insecurity and will be discussing how to use this information to support students.

What challenges will affect your ability to do this activity?
What support do you need from outside your institution?


This project is now fully implemented.

Project Lead/point of contact

Dr. Julia Butler-Mayes, Director of University Advising Services and Mr. Nic Laconico, Director of New Student Orientation

2.B: Holistic Program Maps to Help Students Complete Critical Milestones

Activity/Project Overview or Description

UGA is creating holistic degree/major “maps” for all programs of study. They will touch on almost every component of the USG Momentum approach by providing students with a holistic, longitudinal view of their chosen major. Each map will address attainable, appropriate action items across all aspects of the college experience: academics, experiential learning, community engagement, global competencies, wellbeing, and career preparation. Charting a course through these milestones will deepen the purposeful choice process and outline clear pathways through a major toward graduation. The maps demonstrate the interconnected nature of each aspect, and the value of building on each prior year’s experiences as students move through their time at UGA. This process will also contribute to cultivating a productive academic mindset and heighten academic engagement as students complete critical milestones.

Activity/Project Activity Status (where is this in process?)

UGA is bringing this to scale. Approximately 65-70% of UGA majors have been completed. The remaining will be completed by December 2022.

Evaluation/Assessment plan

Evaluation Plan and measures:

They will be reviewed annually by departments to ensure that they are up-to-date and useful to students.

Progress and Adjustments

This initiative was delayed because of the pandemic but is back on track now for completion.

Plan for the year ahead

We will complete and publish all plans; provide training for new advisors on how to use them; introduce them to students

What challenges will affect your ability to do this activity?
What support do you need from outside your institution to be successful?


Project Lead/point of contact

Dr. Julia Butler-Mayes, Director of University Advising Services

2.C: Seven Meta-Majors to Help Students Maintain Full Momentum Along a Clear Pathway

Activity/Project Overview or Description

We know that approximately 60% of UGA students change their major at least once. We also know that if that change happens after their first 60-hours, it impacts their time to graduation. To address this issue, we have established seven meta-majors that cluster our 140+ majors into seven groups: Creative, Leadership, Service, Life, Technology, Culture, and Nature. These seven groups reflect very broad conceptions of post-UGA aspirations and are aligned to specific programs of study. They are based on the overlapping core and pre-requisite courses for each major to mitigate the impact of two significant issues that students face when they switch majors: accruing extra credits and increasing time to graduation.


The meta-majors are designed so students stay on track for 4-year graduation if they change majors within a meta-major. They also take into account the Holland Interest Inventory (which students take as part of the Orientation Intake Survey, see above); thus they respond to the maturation of students’ interests / goals over their 4-year tenure at UGA. For example, within the Life meta-major, a student who falls into the “Social” Category (purple on the chart to the left) may find that a B.S. in Dietetics, Health Promotion or Nutritional Sciences would be a better fit than the B.S. in Biology which is an “Investigative” major (orange on the chart).

Activity/Project Activity Status

UGA is bringing this to scale. The meta-majors have been used extensively in our Exploratory Center as a tool to help students navigate potential major changes. We are beginning to train other academic advisors on campus about them and provide guidance on how to use them. Thus there will be a presentation/workshop at the 2023 Spring Advisors’ Workshop on campus.

Evaluation/Assessment plan

Evaluation Plan and measures:

  1. We have validated the meta-majors using a 65% overlap in core courses for a major as the threshold
  2. For majors that fall below the threshold, we will consult with departments/colleges to place them in the most appropriate meta-major
  3. We will look for ways to improve the process for changing a major at UGA to decrease the number of major changes and will update the data on major changes annually

Progress and Adjustments

UGA needs to educate Academic Advisors and students about the meta-majors and how to use them to decrease time to degree. We will initiate an advisor-facing campaign this spring and plan to initiate a student-facing campaign in Fall 2023.

Plan for the year ahead

We will continue efforts to make academic advisors and students aware of the meta-majors and how to use them.

What challenges will affect your ability to do this activity?
What support do you need from outside your institution to be successful?


Project Lead/point of contact

Dr. Julia Butler-Mayes, Director of University Advising Services and Dr. Katherine Burr, Director of Assessment in the Office of Instruction

Section 3: Supplemental Updates

UGA recruits and enrolls undergraduate students with outstanding academic qualifications and lofty expectations for academic performance and post-graduate success. To meet the needs and expectations of these students, UGA has long been focused on excellence in undergraduate education. Evidence of this focus includes a long history of initiatives designed to enhance undergraduate education and increase our already high retention and completion rates. Examples include the following:

  1. Active Learning Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP)
  2. Small Class-size Initiative (SCI)
  3. Enhanced student support via peer tutoring, peer learning assistants, and Academic Coaching
  4. Experiential learning graduation requirement for all undergraduates
  5. Double Dawgs pathways program and
  6. The Teaching Enhancement and Innovation Fund.

We report briefly here on the Active Learning QEP and the Small Class-size Initiative (SCI).

3.A: Active Learning QEP

As part of UGA’s reaffirmation of accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), which was completed in Spring 2022, the University of Georgia selected active learning as the topic for its new QEP with the goal of infusing active learning within the teaching and learning ecosystem for undergraduates at UGA.

Within a culture of active learning, students are active participants in the classroom, learning is understood as the construction of knowledge rather than its absorption, and instructors guide students to construct knowledge while actively reflecting upon the process of learning.

The QEP is designed to transform the undergraduate classroom experience by cultivating a learning environment that supports and amplifies the impacts of active learning along three strands: 1) programming for instructors to embrace and develop active learning within their curriculum and to redesign specific courses to incorporate it; 2) courses and other resources for students to introduce them to the value of active learning and help them become successful in active learning environments; and 3) renovation of classrooms into dynamic, active learning spaces. To advance this initiative, in 2021 UGA and the UGA Foundation allocated $6 million over five years (from Fall 2022 through Spring 2027). UGA has separately spent over $2.5 million since 2018 on classroom transformations and a teaching laboratory for instructors to examine and test different technologies or classroom setups that promote active learning. In addition, the Active Learning Summer Institute has trained 103 faculty in active learning strategies, prompting course redesigns in 110 courses/sections across the curriculum affecting over 62,000 students (see Appendix B, Table 1).

The impact of this culture change will be most directly felt by students, as the key learning outcomes of this initiative are to instill students with lifelong learning dispositions: curiosity, initiative, connection, and reflection. These goals for student learning align well with the University’s mission and its “commitment to excellence in a teaching/learning environment dedicated to serving a diverse and well-prepared student body, to promoting high levels of academic achievement, and to providing appropriate academic support services.”

3.B: Small Class-size Initiative (SCI)

Despite the size of its student population, UGA maintains small class sizes, having on average 33 students per class with a 17:1 student-to-instructor ratio. The Small Class-size Initiative (SCI) is keeping that ratio low. Beginning in 2016, the initiative reduced class sizes and added seat capacity in select classes that had high demand, served multiple majors, and had high DF rates and large numbers of withdrawals.

For this initiative, UGA hired 56 new faculty and added over 300 small class sections, most of which had fewer than 20 students. As anticipated, this initiative has resulted in wider availability of critical classes, a reduction in the DF-W rates, deeper student learning, and improved time-to-degree.

Due to the success of the program, UGA is in the process of identifying additional courses to include in the initiative. All these courses are in high-demand areas of study where projected enrollment is expected to grow. This expansion will add 15-20 additional faculty and 80-100 smaller sections to ensure that UGA continues to provide a highly engaged environment for student learning.

Section 4: Closing Comment and List of Advisors

Clearly UGA has built a vibrant, world-class learning environment which, thanks in part to innovations such as the Experiential Learning requirement, Double Dawg pathways, and other special initiatives, is attracting the very best students from across the state and nation and around the world. It is equally clear that they are flourishing here.

Those who reported data and offered advice for this CCG update were the following:

Julia Butler-Mayes, Director, University Advising Services

Nancy D. Ferguson, Director, Office of Student Financial Aid

Megan Mittelstadt, Director, Center for Teaching and Learning

Naomi J. Norman, Assoc. Vice President for Instruction

Marisa Pagnattaro, Vice President for Instruction

William Vencill, Assoc. Vice President for Instruction

Kelly Aline Slaton, Research Analyst, Office of Institutional Research