CUMMING, Ga. – This semester, Tori Bruns was among the inaugural nursing class at the University Center in Cumming. She’s now part of the campus’ history as the University of North Georgia received final approval for consolidation last week.
The consolidation of North Georgia College and State University and Gainesville State College has been anticipated since 2011 and on Jan. 8, the University System of Georgia Board of Regents approved the merger along with three other campuses.
The board also approved consolidations for Augusta State University and Georgia Health Sciences University; Waycross College and South Georgia College; and Macon State College and Middle Georgia College. The plan reduces the number of state institutions from 35 to 31.
On Jan. 10, city of Cumming, Forsyth County and University of North Georgia officials celebrated the new name, new mascot and new logo of the learning institution, comprised of four campuses – in Cumming, Dahlonega, Gainesville and Oconee County.
“I’m so thrilled about it,” Bruns said at the celebration. “I originally wanted to do my nursing at North Georgia [College and State University] and now it’s so much easier that we are part of the same college.”
For Bruns the name change will also be a better way to present herself to employers after she graduates.
“It seems so much more professional,” Bruns said. “I’m proud to be here.”
Cumming Mayor H. Ford Gravitt, who established two annual $1,000 scholarships, said he was excited about the campus and its future growth, including a campus expansion.
The city of Cumming leaders lobbied state legislators, leased the land to the regents and put up about $4 million to help build the campus near the Aquatic Center. The money will be paid back to the city in the next decade.
“We’ve been wanting a campus here for a long time,” Gravitt said.
Gravitt and Forsyth County Commission Chairman Pete Amos each presented the university with a proclamation to mark the ceremony.
Bonita Jacobs, who the regents appointed as president of the University of North Georgia, said there are more than 100 degrees of study being offered in the four different campuses and a military college and leadership institution.
UNG is designated by the University System of Georgia as a state leadership institution and is designated by the Georgia Legislature as the Military College of Georgia. It is one of only six senior military colleges in the United States and its Corps of Cadets numbers more than 750 students.
“We are a very unique institution and we are proud of being University of North Georgia and being so unique,” Jacobs said. “We are proud of what we do with leadership.”
On Jan. 11, UNG faculty and staff had its first business meeting to approve the university’s statutes and bylaws for its Faculty Senate and Staff Council organizations. Other operational components, such as the university’s academic schedule, curriculum and budgets will be consolidated over the next few months.
“UNG will be one of the few universities in the country, if not the only one, to offer such a broad range of degrees and educational opportunities,” Jacobs said.
Sherman Day, executive director of the Cumming campus, said about 500 students are currently attending the campus, 300 Aquatic Circle in Cumming. Combined with the other three campuses, University of North Georgia has a 16,000 student population, making it the seventh-largest public university in the state.
“The sky is the limit for what we are doing here,” Day said. “The merger is going to offer many more opportunities for degrees and programs and educational opportunities.”