On Thursday, Nov. 30 at the Mariner's Galley, College of Coastal Georgia Interim President Meg Amstutz talked about her college experience and other topics during a Meet the President event, hosted by the Presidential Student Ambassador Program.
Students submitted questions, which she then answered as they ate lunch.
Amstutz answered a variety of questions, including her favorite color (green), animal (dolphin) and her vision for the college.
Here are some of the questions and answers from the event:
Q. Tell us your favorite thing about your undergraduate experience?
Amstutz: My favorite thing about my undergraduate experience was that I was at a small school. I went to Centre College in Kentucky, a small school that had, at that time, 875 students. It was much smaller than Coastal. The relationships and friendships I made were the best thing that have happened in my life, and I'm still in contact with people I went to school with.
Q. How do you keep the noise down in the residence halls at night?
Amstutz: I absolutely personally cannot keep the noise in dorm rooms down at night. That would be the job of the residents in the residence hall to keep the noise down. It will be the job of both the resident assistants and residents themselves to work with one another to inform them if it's getting too noisy. And the reason I know this is because I served for three years as an RA when I was in college, and one year I was the resident director in charge of the whole dorm. There's nobody that can help you keep it quiet routinely other than the people who live there.
Q. Where do you see the College in the next five years?
Amstutz: Right now, at the last official count, we have 3,663 students. We're at 100 percent capacity in our residence halls. So in order to grow, to bring in more students [from out of the area], we need to be able [to accommodate them]. We've already let the [University System of Georgia] know that we are going to put forward a formal request to add a new residence hall. It will take time – it takes a while before you get an additional residence hall. You obviously have to get the funding and then get it built. We're in the process of trying to do that so we can attract more students from outside the area.
Q. What is your vision or goal for CCGA?
Amstutz: My vision, knowing that it's a limited one and has some boundaries on it, is to strengthen and grow the College. The Chancellor gave me one charge when I first accepted this job and that was to continue to grow the enrollment. So we've been specifically putting some things in place to make sure that we reach new students. We are working with our admissions counselors and academic advisors to make sure that you all move through and get your degrees on time. My vision really is one of growth. I think some people see this campus growing very, very quickly. My sense is that it will grow very steadily over time.
Q. What are your plans as far as tuition?
Amstutz: Our plan at the College of Coastal Georgia is to keep tuition as affordable as it possibly can be. Tuition increases are usually set along with the Board of Regents. Our goal is to keep tuition very affordable and one of the most competitive tuition rates in the University System. In-state tuition is available to anyone in Georgia of course, but also to students from Florida, South Carolina, Alabama, and Tennessee.
Q. Is there any way we can go to places beyond Europe for study abroad, such as Asia:
Amstutz: You actually can study abroad in Asia right now. I encourage you to go talk to the Office of International Education. There are a lot of opportunities, and if there is a place you want to go that we don't have a clear track to out of the College of Coastal Georgia, the System offers lots of study abroad opportunities. Because we're part of a system in Georgia, we can connect to one of the other University System schools that can get you to any place on the globe you want to go.
Q. What is your dream job?
Amstutz: I think I'm living my dream job right now. Working with students, helping build a place where you all can have a wonderful education, is a dream job for me. If it were a real, sort of out-of-the-box dream job, I always thought it would be really cool to be a marine biologist. I always thought that sounded like a dream job. But I think being a college president is a dream job.
Amstutz also shared the story of how she got involved in higher education.
She was 21 years old, an English major and was considering graduate school. While pursuing public relations jobs, she found an opening for grant writer at her alma mater, Centre College. During the interview, she met with the new president of the college, and what was supposed to be a 15-minute conversation turned into 30 minutes. Amstutz didn't get the grant writing job, but the president was interested in hiring her as an assistant in his office before she went off to graduate school. She worked in the president's office for two years doing routine tasks, such as filing, writing, and accompanying the president to events. From that experience, she recognized that she wanted a career in higher education and went on to graduate school and eventually earned her Ph.D.
"The lesson I learned is never to underestimate the value of having a face-to-face meeting with somebody. As you talk with somebody, they relate to you, they listen, and they may be thinking something different than you about your contributions to their business," Amstutz said. "My dreams shifted a lot simply because of one interview I had. It connected me with someone who then became a mentor to me. My piece of advice is this: if anyone says they're willing to sit down and talk with you or meet with you regarding your goals and dreams, always sit down with them -- because you never know what can happen."