The University of North Georgia is one step closer to reality today, as the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS) has given its approval to plans to consolidate Gainesville State College and North Georgia College & State University.
Officials from SACS, the Southeast’s accrediting organization for higher education, announced the approval of the prospectus submitted by the new institutions during the SACS annual meeting held in Dallas. This represents the final step needed for the Board of Regents to grant its authorization of the consolidations and to appoint presidents. That action is scheduled for the January 8 Board of Regents meeting.
“Many individuals have worked countless hours to bring us to this point in our consolidation effort,” said University System Chancellor Hank Huckaby. “At the outset, our goal with consolidation was to broaden opportunity for more students and to do so more efficiently. The approval by SACs of our plan represents a tremendous milestone and validates the hard work of the past year.”
In addition to the consolidation creating the University of North Georgia, there are three other institutions being formed through the consolidation of Augusta State University with Georgia Health Sciences University, Waycross College with South Georgia College, and Macon State College with Middle Georgia College. The plan reduces the number of USG institutions from 35 to 31.
“As a consolidated institution, the University of North Georgia will offer associate’s through doctoral degrees, thus creating multiple pathways for students,” said Dr. Bonita C. Jacobs, president of North Georgia College & State University. “Through the planning process, we have begun to see the enormous potential this university will be able to offer students and our communities across the fastest-growing region of Georgia.”
Through the University of North Georgia, students will have access to a broad range of educational opportunities and degree programs – including associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees.
“It is exciting that students will be able to choose from a variety of pathways within one institution to pursue their educational aspirations,” said Dr. Randy J. Pierce, interim president of Gainesville State College. “This will support the state’s efforts to increase the number of students who graduate from college.”
Huckaby announced his consolidation plan in August of 2011 and the regents approved six principles for consolidation in November of that year.
At its January 2012 meeting the regents approved the recommendations to consolidate the eight institutions. Working groups on the campuses and at the system office then began the complex process of consolidation.
The regents approved the new name and mission statement for the consolidation institution in May.