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News / Articles

Regents OK college mergers

 | Published on Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Regents OK college mergers
By Laura DiamondThe Atlanta Journal-Constitution1:42 p.m. Tuesday, January 10, 2012

 

Eight Georgia colleges will merge into four under action the State Board of Regents took Tuesday.Some administrators and other staff members will lose their jobs and the system plans to funnel any savings into academics and expand degree offerings to help students, said Steve Wrigley, executive vice chancellor.The consolidations will merge Augusta State College with Georgia Health Sciences University; Gainesville State College with North Georgia College & State University; Middle Georgia College with Macon State College; and Waycross College with South Georgia College in Douglas. None of the colleges will close.The controversial issue drew a packed audience, forcing staff to open a second room to accommodate a spillover crowd.Dozens of Waycross residents drove to Atlanta to protest the merger. Members of the SAVE Waycross College Community Coalition worried how job losses would hurt the local economy and feared some students would have to drive longer distances to take certain courses.Regents had little discussion, although they acknowledged that some are upset with the mergers but said budget realities forced the situation.The state has cut the system's funding by more than $1 billion over the past four years because of the recession. During the same time, enrollment increased by about 40,000 students to more than 318,000 students this fall.The eight colleges enroll more than 36,000 students, including more than 4,700 from metro Atlanta.The consolidations are expected to be done by fall 2013 and would decrease the number of colleges in the University System of Georgia to 31.The eight colleges will nominate people to serve on committees to suggest solutions to different merger issues. They will provide recommendations on everything from college name, fund-raising efforts, staff and faculty positions and academic offerings at each location, officials said.Return to ajc.com for updates.Merger pairingsEight existing University System of Georgia colleges will merge into four. None of the colleges will close, but officials warn of some administrative and staff layoffs. Here are the affected schools:-- Augusta State and Georgia Health Sciences universities. Augusta State enrolls about 6,740 students and its president was already prepared to retire June 30. Georgia Health Sciences is the state's only public medical college and enrolls about 2,950 students. The colleges are about three miles apart.-- Waycross College and South Georgia College in Douglas. Waycross offers two-year degrees and with just 965 students is the smallest of the 35 existing colleges. The college has had an interim president since July. South Georgia offers four-year degrees and enrolls about 2,270 students. The colleges are about 40 miles apart.-- Macon State and Middle Georgia colleges. Macon enrolls about 5,700 students and Middle Georgia in Cochran teaches about 3,425 students. The schools are about 50 miles apart.-- Gainesville State College and North Georgia College & State University. Gainesville enrolls about 8,570 students and the college president is due to retire June 30. North Georgia, which is based in Dahlonega, teaches about 6,060 students and is one of only six senior military colleges in the U.S. The campuses are about 30 miles apart.Find this article at:http://www.ajc.com/news/georgia-politics-elections/regents-ok-college-mergers-1298155.html