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University system may consolidate colleges

POSTED: September 22, 2011 3:21 p.m.

University System of Georgia Chancellor Hank Huckaby has announced three initiatives to change higher education in the state.

One will determine if the potential exists to consolidate any institutions. The remaining two initiatives change how the University System plans and constructs campus buildings.

“The board is here to help and support you. It is high time to look at some of these critical issues; it won’t be easy, but we will support you,” said Board of Regents chair Benjamin Tarbutton III, who endorsed and applauded the intent of Chancellor Huckaby’s plans.

In remarks to the System’s governing Board of Regents, Huckaby said it is clear from his meetings with legislators, business leaders and others that today is a new era in which the good stewardship of state resources means fundamental changes in how the University System operates. “This is why I have stressed the need to focus on performance: how well we use our resources to educate students and encourage faculty,” he said.

Huckaby announced plans to look at the System’s 35 campuses to assess if any campus consolidations can better control costs while meeting the System’s teaching, research and service missions.

“I believe it is time for the system to study if campus consolidations are justified and will enhance our ability to serve the people of Georgia at less cost,” Huckaby said. “We in the university system should be the first to ask questions of ourselves to make sure we are serving the State in the best way.”

The System has 35 degree-granting institutions, including four research universities and 15 four-year colleges and universities offering a range of undergraduate and graduate degrees. There are 14 state colleges, which while they have a primary two-year mission to provide broad access for students, also are authorized by the regents to offer limited bachelor degree programs, and two, two-year colleges, offering associate degree programs only.

Huckaby said he recognizes that a consolidation study is a significant step for the System with the potential for far-reaching changes. He promised a deliberate and objective review with substantial input and said that no plans have been made for specific institutional consolidation.

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