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New USG Institution In Gwinnett Clears Legislative Hurdle

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Atlanta — March 17, 2005

The Board of Regents’ strategic goal to establish a stand-alone institution in fast-growing Gwinnett County cleared the final legislative hurdle on Tues., March 15, with the House adoption of a resolution on the issue.

The resolution, which was approved initially by the Senate in February, passed the House 161-2. The path is now clear to create Georgia’s 35th public institution of higher education, the first new institution in three decades.

“We are extremely pleased with the General Assembly’s and the Governor’s support of this proposal,” said Chancellor Thomas C. Meredith. “We identified a clear and growing need for a new state college in Gwinnett, and our funding partners agreed.”

Meredith said the Board would adopt a transition plan this spring for the new state college, which will build upon the existing Gwinnett University Center. Currently, the Center is jointly operated by Georgia Perimeter College, which handles lower division courses, and the University of Georgia, which is responsible for upper division courses and graduate degree programs. Southern Polytechnic State University and the Medical College of Georgia also offer specific degree programs and courses at the Center.

The new state college will be responsible for all undergraduate academic offerings and will grant two-year and targeted baccalaureate degrees under its own auspices. UGA will continue to offer graduate degree programs in Gwinnett County.

University System officials are planning a multi-year transition period during which the Center will transform into a self-standing state college. The transition planning will include:

  • the creation and approval of a mission statement for the college;
  • approval of an organizational structure;
  • the development of a budget plan;
  • the hiring of a president;
  • approval of academic programs; and
  • approval of required policies for the institution.

With more than 8,000 students, the Gwinnett University Center’s current size makes it the ninth-largest University System site. More important, enrollment at the GUC is exploding at a current pace of more than 1,000 students per year - a 123 percent increase over the last five years.

The U.S. Census Bureau projects that Gwinnett’s population will top one million people by 2020. Gwinnett has the largest school system in the state and is the largest county east of the Mississippi without a stand-alone, four-year public college or university.

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