Eight public institutions of higher education across Georgia officially became four on Tuesday, as the state Board of Regents gave final approval to a consolidation scheme that’s been more than a year in the making. While substantive changes have been—and continue to be—in progress, the big day on campus was all about branding.
Students, faculty and alumni now know who will be implementing consolidation plans at Georgia public colleges. University system officials released the names of stake-holders who'll be serving on committees to turn eight institutions into four. But they haven't yet specified how much the consolidations could save.
College boosters looking for clues as to what state universities could be merged got little help in a recently adopted set of principles. The Board of Regents approved guidelines for merging public colleges and universities to save money and improve education. Savannah and Armstrong Atlantic State Universities are perennial merger targets because they are close together.
Georgia State University System Chancellor Hank Huckaby is urging campuses "not to panic" as he studies possible campus mergers. Huckaby this month said, he'd be reviewing consolidations as a way to cut down on school expenses. This week he's visiting two schools long-considered prime merger candidates, Savannah State and Armstrong Atlantic State Universities.
The chancellor of the University System of Georgia has warned of tuition hikes because of shrinking state funding for universities and growing enrollment. The Board of Regents will decide next year's tuition rates at its Tuesday meeting.
State Rep. Ed Rynders of Albany wants voters to amend the state constitution so tuition increases at state universities cannot exceed the rate of inflation. He said controlling the cost of tuition is key to saving the lottery-funded HOPE scholarship program, which is running out of money.
The president of Georgia’s only public medical school wants to hire 500 new faculty members by 2018. It’s part of an effort to make the Georgia Health Sciences University in Augusta one of the top research schools in the country.
With Georgia’s university system bracing for more deep cuts, college students could be forced to pick up some of the slack through further tuition hikes. That prospect has some students at the University of Georgia worried.
The Georgia university system wants to hold college presidents more accountable for student graduation. The Board of Regents this year is expected to approve a new salary structure for college and university presidents to place more emphasis on graduation rates.