The University System of Georgia will attempt another merger, this time between Georgia State University and a community college, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports, citing unnamed sources close to the matter.
Since 2011, the Georgia system has embarked on a series of mergers unlike any other state system in the country. The sixth and latest would be between Georgia State, a four-year university with an urban campus and about 25,000 undergraduates, and Georgia Perimeter College, a two-year college with about 21,000 students in the suburbs. Both are in or near Atlanta, but they have far different missions and programs. Georgia State has a $740 million budget, about four times Perimeter’s, and has a significantly higher tuition, which could become a knot to untangle for Georgia officials.
The merger is expected to be recommended at a meeting today of the system’s Board of Regents. The board is also set to finalize a merger between Kennesaw State University and Southern Polytechnic State University that was announced in November 2013 and approved by accreditors just last month.
Georgia has already merged a four-year with a two-year college, when it combined North Georgia College and State University with the two-year Gainesville State College, but those institutions are smaller and had roughly the same budget. The state has also combined two colleges with vastly different missions and budgets: Augusta State University, a mostly undergraduate institution, and Georgia Health Sciences University, a medical college with a $630 million budget that was 10 times that of Augusta State's.
Mergers have been a key goal of Georgia system Chancellor Hank Huckaby’s since he took the job in 2011. With the Kennesaw and Southern Poly merger, the number of public colleges in the state will be reduced to 30 from 35 when he took office.
The Georgia system makes its decision to merge based on a combination of qualitative and quantitative factors, which the board has publicly boiled down to a half-dozen “principles for consolidation.”
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