Text me: Georgia Gwinnett Swaps Cell Phones for Office Hours

An article in today’s edition of Inside Higher Ed details Georgia Gwinnett College’s practice of handing out free cell phones to professors in an attempt to improve student-faculty communications and encourage students to stay in school. According college officials, the plan is working: 75 % of sophomores are returning to school, double the rate of other schools with an open-admission policy.

The program costs about $350,000, or roughly $1,000 per professor. As long as they put the cell phone numbers on their syllabi, Faculty members are not required to keep office hours–leading to increased productivity, school officials say.

The program is not without controversy. School officials recognize that the program may not be popular with state legislators looking to make further budget cuts during the recession. Some professors commenting on the story are leery of the program, citing privacy concerns and income-tax liability issues, and the further degradation of higher education, although others wish their colleges would give them free cell phones.

Posted by editor

Georgia Colleges is published and edited by Jonathan Grant, an Atlanta-based author whose works include the award-winning The Way It Was in the South: The Black Experience in Georgia (University of Georgia Press). He is currently developing a guidebook to Georgia colleges for parents, students, and educators.

Grant graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in English. He is a former newspaper reporter, editor, and bureau chief with The Macon Telegraph and served as a Georgia state government spokesman for several years.

He lives in suburban Atlanta with his wife, Judy, and two children–a college freshman and a high school senior. Actively involved in community affairs, he has served as a PTA president, a local school council member, and as a soccer coach for twelve seasons.