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Tuesday, January 10, 2012 - 1:44pm

Communities React To College Mergers

The state Board of Regents voted Tuesday to merge eight of Georgia's public colleges.

The goal is to save on administrative costs during a time of severe budget cuts.

About 200 people attended the public meeting in Atlanta. The crowd included concerned community members from Waycross. After hearing that the board approved of the merger of Waycross College with South Georgia College in Douglas, the community members marched out of the room.

Reverend Fer-Rell Malone, who traveled with the group on two full charter buses, said he was disappointed with the decision. “This is the institution, the chancellor, the board of regents that teaches our students and universities and colleges how to analytically make decisions." Malone said. "We find that they have not done so."

Chairman Benjamin Tarbutton tried to assure the audience the decision was not made lightly.

“I just want everyone to understand that we know how difficult some of these changes are," said Tarbutton. "Everyone loves their hometown college but we are not advocating for this if we did not think it was in the best interest of the citizens and the students of the state of Georgia whom which we serve."

The plan also includes merging Augusta State College with the Georgia Health Sciences University; Middle Georgia College with Macon State College; and Gainesville State College with North Georgia College & State University.

The merger is scheduled to go into effect fall of 2013.