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Regents Take Action on New Campus Mission, International Education and Enrollment Growth

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Atlanta — April 16, 2008

A new mission for one college, international education and population growth in metropolitan Atlanta may, at first glance, appear unrelated. But with its approval today of three separate proposals dealing with these issues, the University System of Georgia’s governing Board of Regents has put in motion efforts designed to support goals related to these areas in the board’s Strategic Plan.

Specifically, the three board actions, approved during its monthly meeting held at Columbus State University, are:

  • The approval of a mission change for Coastal Georgia Community College and of recommendations to increase access to the University System in southeast coastal Georgia;
  • The approval of a plan to increase enrollment capacity in metropolitan Atlanta; and
  • The adoption of new principles for international education.

“We are gaining momentum as we implement and realize the goals set forth in our Strategic Plan,” said Shelley Nickel, the USG’s associate vice chancellor for planning and implementation. “These actions today put into motion plans that have been on the drawing board for a number of months. It is exciting to see them come to fruition.”

Goal One of the Strategic Plan is to renew excellence in undergraduate education. One section of this goal involves preparing students to function successfully in a global society. Toward that end, the regents today adopted a set of five principles that provide guidelines for USG campuses engaging in international education.

“In conjunction with a recent Senate resolution urging the state’s colleges and universities to give international education high priority, we sought input from our campuses in developing a document that would help them go forward with improving the international dimensions of undergraduate education,” said Dr. Richard Sutton, assistant vice chancellor for international programs.

The Principles of International Education encourage USG institutions to provide students with the global knowledge, skills and attitudes to succeed in the 21st-century; to infuse all aspects of campus life and culture with international education to achieve optimal impact on students, faculty and staff; to ensure the existence of active international networks, partnerships and programs that engage and reward faculty and staff in the global practice of teaching, research and service; to participate in successful state strategies for global commerce that integrate the international education programs of public universities with related international activities of other state agencies; and to work closely with the University System Office, which is responsible for developing appropriate governance policies, exemplary standards of practice and adequate financial support to ensure the integrity of international education programs and procedures.

Goal Two of the Strategic Plan is to expand the USG’s enrollment capacity to meet the needs of a projected 100,000 additional students by 2020. Population forecasts point to the greatest growth in metropolitan Atlanta and, below Macon, the southeastern coastal area of the state.

The board took two separate actions in support of increasing enrollment capacity: adopting a plan to increase the University System’s capacity in the greater Atlanta area and approving a mission change for Coastal Georgia Community College (CGCC) from a two-year institution to a state college.

Priorities for increasing the enrollment capacity of the University System in the Atlanta region will focus on two-year and state college access. Newly released data from the U.S. Census Bureau indicates that over the past year, Atlanta had the second highest metropolitan area population growth in the nation. This data bolstered a recent report prepared by USG staff for the regents, which concluded that the majority of the additional 100,000 students expected to seek education in the University System of Georgia by 2020 would be from the Atlanta area.

“Given the expected enrollment increase, all institutions in the metro Atlanta area must be part of a system solution to a state need,” said Chief Operating Officer Rob Watts.

The plan adopted by the regents today for increasing enrollment capacity in Georgia’s capital will address the needs of under-served areas in metropolitan Atlanta by establishing small pilot sites in low-cost, leased spaces following a multi-campus model and encouraging the establishment of partnerships between institutions. Initial priorities for the locations of these sites will focus on areas of in-town Atlanta, north of Atlanta as well as southeast, southwest and west of Atlanta. The target for opening the initial pilot sites is Fall 2009.

A recent needs assessment conducted for the Board of Regents confirmed similar studies going back to 1982 indicating that southeast coastal Georgia is under-served with respect to access to baccalaureate degree programs. CGCC’s mission change to a state college will set the stage for the state college to offer baccalaureate degree programs targeted to the economic development of the area. As part of the board’s larger comprehensive plan to increase access in this region of the state, USG staff also will explore partnerships between South Georgia College (SGC) in Douglas and one or more senior institutions that would extend access to baccalaureate-degree programs for area residents.

Apart from the need for better access to baccalaureate degree programs, one area of coastal Georgia, Savannah, needs better access to two-year programs. Savannah does not have a two-year public college. USG staff will plan for better access to two-year programs in the Savannah area in the future.

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