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Monday, November 14, 2011 - 12:07pm

Few Clues In Regents Merger Guidelines

Updated: 5 years ago.
University System of Georgia Chancellor Hank Huckaby has proposed campus mergers as a way to save money and improve education. The idea has caused some concern on some campuses. Earlier this year, he visited with students and faculty at Savannah State University and Armstrong Atlantic State University, two perennial merger targets. (photo Armstrong Atlantic State University)

New guidelines for merging Georgia public colleges and universities are little comfort to those wanting to keep some institutions separate.

Principles the Board of Regents adopted could affect Savannah's universities.

Regents want to merge schools to save money and improve education.

Principles adopted last week could bode poorly for Savannah and Armstrong Atlantic State University boosters.

Regents will consider geographic proximity and dual administrations.

But they'll also consider cultural fit and student backgrounds.

Savannah State is historically black.

SSU National Alumni Association President Roy Jackson says, the principles are a mixed bag.

"It does not give me a lot of comfort that they won't do it," Jackson says. "But I think there are other considerations in there that I think will perhaps bear on the decision as much as proximity and economies of scale."

Jackson says, the two schools, in the same city, have distinct missions.

He says, some principles, like fostering economic development, don't necessarily have to lead to a merger.

"Certainly, in this community, in terms when you talk about economic development, I would think that both institutions could collaborate and be separate institutions," Jackson says. "And I certainly think it would be forward-thinking on the part of the administrations to so something like that."

Regents spokesman John Millsaps says, the guidelines were left intentionally vague and were not intended to speak to any particular institutions.

He says, any speculation at this point is premature.

Regents could propose mergers over the next several months.

For a complete list of the merger guidelines, go to this website.