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University consolidation plan gets final OK


Accreditors latest to approve University of North Ga.


December 19, 2012
DAHLONEGA, Ga. — The University of North Georgia is one step closer to reality.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS) gave approval to plans to consolidate Gainesville State College and North Georgia College and State University in Dahlonega.

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, Texas on Dec. 11.

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 Jan. 8, 2013 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."

Huckaby announced his consolidation plan in August of 2011 and the regents approved six principles for consolidation in November of that 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.

The Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia voted Jan. 10 to approve the proposed consolidation of Gainesville State College and North Georgia College and State University.

Consolidation has a target date for full integration by fall 2013.

In August 2012, students started taking courses at the new University Center | Ga. 400 on Pilgrim Mill Road near the Cumming Aquatic Center. The 38,000-square-foot, $7 million campus marked the latest effort of North Georgia College and State University and Gainesville State College.

"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 and 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."

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