As reported in the Red & Black, on Jan. 11, the Georgia Board of Regents voted to merge Georgia Southern University and Armstrong State University along with Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College and Bainbridge State College into two universities.
This is the fifth round of consolidations in the University System of Georgia since 2011, according to a press release from the University System of Georgia.
The Board of Regents approve each consolidation with the intention of “increasing opportunities to raise education attainment” and “enhancing regional development,” according to the Board’s six consolidation principles.
Board of Regents members and presidents of each university spoke with concerned residents in town hall meetings to clarify and answer questions regarding these changes.
Executive Vice Chancellor for Strategy and Fiscal Affairs Shelley Nickel said the first step requires the formation of a consolidation implementation committee of 20 people who will work on over 900 items covering issues such as financial aid, curriculum and degree programs.
The committee will work to first develop a new mission statement for the merger and the process will take about 18 months. The goal is to have students register for official, combined university classes in fall 2018.
“It will be a collaborative process, never losing sight of the human endeavor,” Georgia Southern President and future president of the combined universities Jaimie Hebert said.
Armstrong State University President Linda Bleicken agreed with Hebert but also understood the concerns of students.
“The manner in which the university system went about the merger makes me skeptical about who the merger will really benefit,” said Armstrong sophomore Josiah Byler.
Although many details remain unknown, including combination of Greek life and athletics according to the panel, they are certain hours will transfer, one billion dollars will attribute to the state economy and scholarships will not be affected.
The consolidation of these colleges intend for completion in 2018 as well, according to ABAC Director of Marketing and Communications Lindsey Roberts.
Similarly to the Georgia Southern and Armstrong consolidation, Roberts is not sure how the addition of their school to another will affect their academic programs and faculty employment .
Some students such as Cigi Fowler do not view the two schools merging as an issue.
“As long as I can still get my degree and not have to leave ABAC I’m happy,” Fowler said.
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