By Curt Yeomans
Clayton State University Interim President Thomas J. Hynes pitched everything about his new school -- from the arts and academics, to athletics -- during a meeting Thursday with business and education leaders from across Clayton County.
Spivey Hall is "the premier site of music in the South," Hynes said at the Clayton County Chamber of Commerce's monthly Early Bird Breakfast, and he described as "darn near good," the university's athletics department.
"Clayton State's mission will be to strive to become the premier, comprehensive metropolitan university in the South," he declared.
Hynes said the university community needs to develop plans to continue recent growth, and it needs to work with the broader community that exists beyond the wrought iron fence that surrounds the school's Morrow campus to promote "Clayton State's story."
Hynes, who was provost at the University of West Georgia, began his tenure as Clayton State's interim leader on May 18. He replaces former President Thomas K. Harden, who left the university earlier this month to take a similar position at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.
Hynes comes to Clayton State with experience as a temporary university leader. He served as West Georgia's interim leader twice. The first time was during the 1999-2000 school year, and the second, during 2006-2007.
Hynes said the university needs to put its energies into creating a strategic plan that looks at ways to continue raising enrollment, as well as Clayton State's public profile. His task, he said, is to continue the growth that has taken place at the school where enrollment has grown by roughly 2,000 students in the last decade. Graduate-level education was established in that same time period. "I think there are exceptional stories here, and we must have those stories shared with the public," he said.
While Hynes is leading CSU, officials in the University System of Georgia are working to find a permanent leader for the school. University System of Georgia Board of Regents member Allen Vigil said he and the other regents are scheduled to meet later this summer to begin discussions on a timeline and procedures for the Clayton State search. He said regents may begin those discussion at either their August or September meetings.
"We've got to find the right person, because Clayton State is very important to the university system," Vigil said. "Whatever time it takes, we'll make sure we have the right fit for this university."
Vigil said the regents may wait until December of this year, or January 2010 to assemble the Clayton State presidential search committee, so Hynes has an opportunity to lead the school and help it grow.
"That's why we've got him [Hynes] in place to lead the university," Vigil said. "The main thing is to lead the university forward, and he's got a lot of experience to bring to Clayton State."
University System Spokesman John Millsaps said in recent years it has typically taken the university system four to seven months to complete a presidential search. That is after the search committee is named, Millsaps added.
If that timeline begins at the end of 2009, Clayton State could be close to wrapping up, or may be finished with, the 2009-2010 school year before the university's next permanent president is chosen.
Clayton State is one of three schools for which the university system is currently seeking a new leader, Millsaps said. Searches are underway at Georgia Southern University, and the Augusta-based Medical College of Georgia.