GC Journeys wins Regents’ Momentum Year Award for excellence

GC Journeys wins Regents’ Momentum Year Award for excellence

  T he University System of Georgia (USG) awarded its “2021 Regents’ Momentum Year Award for Excellence in Teaching and Curricular Innovation” to GC Journeys—a program where every Georgia College student participates in at least five transformative experiences in their college years.

“We strongly value the success of our students and realize the impact of the intentional and supportive opportunities a program like GC Journeys offers to their college experience,” said Dr. Costas Spirou, provost and vice president of Academic Affairs.

...they voted unanimously to recommend GC Journeys program as this year’s winner.
– Dr. Tristan Denley, USG
“We are dedicated to providing all our students access to these high-impact practices,” he said, “and will continue to nurture and develop GC Journeys so our students are career or graduate school ready.”

In a congratulatory letter announcing the award, Dr. Tristan Denley, executive vice chancellor and chief academic officer for USG, wrote: “We received many outstanding nomination portfolios this year and each was thoroughly reviewed by a panel of faculty and administrators from across the University System. When the review committee met to discuss the nominations and finalize their recommendations, they voted unanimously to recommend GC Journeys program as this year’s winner.”

Student collects millipedes for research.
Student collects millipedes for research.
The path to this honor started last year when Dr. Jordan Cofer, associate provost of Transformative Learning Experiences, and Dr. Cynthia Alby, professor of Secondary Education, agreed GC Journeys would be “extremely competitive.” Last fall, Cofer worked with various departments to capture steps they were taking to provide students transformative experiences. These included undergraduate research, internships, study abroad, leadership opportunities, community-based learning and career planning.

It’s not a department initiative, rather it’s a university-wide initiative. While it was conceived and driven by faculty, it’s taken the entire university working together to focus on student success, which is at the heart of a liberal arts education. Its this type of collaboration that really helped set us apart.
– Dr. Jordan Cofer
Cofer also worked with officials at Institutional Research and Institutional Effectiveness to collect assessments and documentation that proved the effectiveness of GC Journeys. Then, he joined Dr. Dana Gorzelany-Mostak, the university’s faculty success coordinator, to format an approach for application.

GC Journeys is “comprehensive” and “ambitious,” Cofer said, and that’s what helped propel it to award-winning success.

“It’s not a department initiative, rather it’s a university-wide initiative,” he said. “While it was conceived and driven by faculty, it’s taken the entire university working together to focus on student success, which is at the heart of a liberal arts education. Its this type of collaboration that really helped set us apart.”

Students use film equipment.
Students use film equipment.
GC Journeys puts high-impact practices at the center of student experience and at every level of undergraduate curriculum and this, according to Denley, was a distinguishing feature. The university integrates curricular and co-curricular experiences, which serves “as a springboard for students to explore career pathways, engage with local and global communities, develop leadership skills and cultivate an academic mindset,” Denley wrote. These are all elements of USG’s Momentum Year award, as well.

The award will be formally presented at a future Board of Regents meeting.

“I’m so excited about the award,” Cofer said, “because it’s external recognition of the great work our faculty and staff are doing. It helps confirm that quality education that GC students receive.”