At the start of the new year, Georgia Tech’s division of Enrollment Management introduced the groundbreaking role of executive director of strategic student access. This role continues Tech’s commitment to increasing opportunities for talented students to study at the Institute.
Effective Jan. 1, Rick Clark, associate vice provost of Enrollment Management and executive director of Undergraduate Admission, assumed the new executive director role. Mary Tipton Woolley, senior associate director of Undergraduate Admission, stepped in to serve as the interim executive director of Undergraduate Admission.
The executive director of strategic student access position will create and implement a strategic plan to increase opportunities for financially vulnerable undergraduates to earn a Georgia Tech bachelor’s degree. The creation of this position underscores Tech’s commitment to the state of Georgia and life-changing access to a Tech education.
This position will collaborate with a variety of stakeholders, including administrators, faculty, staff, K-12 superintendents and principals, community leaders, government agencies, corporate sponsors, philanthropies, alumni, students, and donors.
“At Georgia Tech, our commitment to expanding access is a cornerstone of our mission because we believe talent has no limits and that financial limitations should not stand in the way of any talented student,” said Steve McLaughlin, provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs. “Rick Clark’s time at Tech, experience, and passion for our mission prepare him well to serve in the inaugural role as we work to dismantle financial barriers.”
Notable initiatives to increase access to a Tech education over the past decade include the Atlanta Public School Scholars Program, which began in 2014 to grant scholarships to eligible valedictorians and salutatorians in Atlanta Public Schools. This was followed by the creation of the Georgia Tech Scholars Program in 2017, a program guaranteeing admission to eligible high school valedictorians and salutatorians statewide.
In 2016, Georgia Tech also joined other universities across the country in the American Talent Initiative, a collaborative effort between multiple colleges to share strategies to help more financially vulnerable students obtain a degree.
Then 2023 brought the expansion of the G. Wayne Clough Tech Promise Scholarship to offer a debt-free experience to students from families with an estimated income of $55,500 or less. The scholarship, which is the first of its kind offered by a public university in the state of Georgia, has served over 1,000 eligible students since its establishment in 2007.
Also in 2023, Georgia Tech created the Val-Sal Scholarship for valedictorians and salutatorians from the state of Georgia with financial need. This scholarship was offered to 25 incoming first-year students for the 2023-24 school year.
Together, these efforts have provided the opportunity for more qualified Georgians than ever to study at Tech.
“Empowering dreams, breaking barriers. In Enrollment Management, we take pride in our commitment to student access,” said Paul Kohn, vice provost of Enrollment Management. “From the inception of the APS Scholars admission and scholarship program in 2014 to the recent addition of the Val-Sal scholarship recognizing Georgia’s highest achieving high school students, and now the introduction of the executive director for strategic student access role, we’ve been dedicated to creating pathways that elevate and expand opportunities for every student. Together, we’re shaping a future where access knows no bounds.”
On Jan. 1, Clark turned his full attention to his new role, where he will focus on building relationships with education and community leaders as well as connecting with the Office of Development to implement strategies to exceed fundraising goals for need-based scholarships. Additionally, Clark will work with campus partners to ensure accessibility of resources for all students, regardless of income.
“In my 20 years working in Tech’s Undergraduate Admission office, I’ve seen that talent is truly everywhere; opportunity, unfortunately, is not,” said Clark. “My goal in this position is to ensure that students — regardless of their socioeconomic background — can not only afford to attend Georgia Tech, but also engage in all the transformative opportunities we provide.”
To learn more about ways to support current and future Tech students, visit the Transforming Tomorrow campaign website.