COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – Come July 1st, Columbus State University will have a new interim president on campus. Dr. John Fuchko spoke to News 3 and outlined his plans for the university.

Dr. Fuchko has worked at the state level for the University System of Georgia for the last 15 years, serving as the longest vice chancellor in the system. As he steps into his new role at CSU, Dr. Fuchko is focused on partnerships with the Columbus Community, including residents of Fort Benning.

As a colonel in the US Army National Guard over the last 20 years. Dr. Fuchko plans on using his military background and higher education experience to take advantage of the talent within the faculty, staff, and administration on campus.

Dr. Fuchko says CSU has struggled with the retention of students in the last year.

“You know, our enrollment took a little bit of a decline this year that we’re in now. So we’re looking to find ways to build that enrollment back up. Also retention, which is really another name for student success. I believe if you come here, that means you have what it takes to be successful. Our job is to invest in you while you invest in your studies to make you successful.”

Dr. John Fuchko – CSU Interim President

Dr. Fuchko tells News 3 the university is also currently working through some budget issues.

“We have some budget challenges that we will be working through as well, just to make sure that we’re on that sound financial footing that allows us to do those things that are core to our mission.”

Dr. John Fuchko – CSU Interim President

That mission is prioritizing student success. The city of Columbus has grown with the university over the years and for that to continue, Dr. Fuchko is making sure partnerships are at the forefront.

“Part of that life cycle of building out the community, building out people to to be a part of this community and be part of the business of this community. We’ve got these organizations, public, private, that are so much a part of what we do. And you’re right, you know, Columbus University, it’s been kind of a part of, I think, building the middle class and we’re going to continue to do that.”

Dr. John Fuchko – CSU Interim President

CSU resident Dr. Chris Markwood announced his retirement back in February. He served as CSU’s president for 7 years and was in higher education for nearly three decades.

News 3 asked Dr. Fuchko if he plans to take on the role in the long term. He says right now that is not his focus. His priority is the institution and students he serves.