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University System Marks 75 Years of “Transforming Lives”

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Atlanta — January 16, 2007

Gov. Sonny Perdue, former President Jimmy Carter, author Flannery O’Connor, golfer Larry Nelson, and journalist Charlayne Hunter Gault share a common association – all were students or graduates of the University System of Georgia, which celebrates its 75th anniversary this month.

A legacy of what University System of Georgia Chancellor Erroll B. Davis Jr. termed “lives transformed by public higher education” is at the core of the mission of the state’s 35 public colleges and universities. Davis’ comment came during a presentation today to the Board of Regents outlining milestones of the System’s first three-quarters of a century.

The Board of Regents held its first meeting, on Jan 1, 1932, signaling the creation of a unified system of public higher education for Georgia that consolidated the powers of 27 separate boards of trustees under a single governing Board of Regents, appointed by the governor. Prior to the Reorganization Act of 1931 that created the Board of Regents, all public colleges and universities in Georgia were independent and were funded separately by the General Assembly.

At its inception, the University System of Georgia comprised 26 colleges and universities enrolling approximately 6,000 students; today the System’s 35 institutions serve 260,000 students and more than one million Georgians through continuing education. A study in 2006 put the System’s annual economic contributions to the state at $23.3 billion. In addition, each of the System’s approximately 35,000 annual graduates is projected to generate an additional $1 million in income during his/her working lifetime.

Today, the Board of Regents’ status gives it great flexibility in allocating funding, setting policy, and managing public higher education to quickly respond to state needs.

Davis noted that Georgia’s investment in public higher education has not been without struggle and debate. The System was created in the depths of the Great Depression and survived this economic ordeal. Successive boards have managed explosive growth following WWII, in the 1970’s and at the turn of the century, political challenges to academic independence, desegregation in the 60’s and 70’s, and today, the need to prepare more Georgians for a global, highly educated workforce.

“The System’s success is based upon the state’s wise and continued investment in improving the lives of Georgians through accessible, affordable public higher education,” Davis said. “For 75 years, the University System of Georgia has fulfilled its mission, thanks to the strong support of both the executive and legislative branch, and the dedication of the 182 individuals who have served on the Board of Regents, 11 chancellors and the many individuals who have served as institution presidents, faculty and staff.”

For additional information on the Board of Regents and the University System of Georgia, visit: http://www.usg.edu. For historical background on both the Board of Regents and the University System of Georgia, view http://www.usg.edu/news/publications/category/university_system_of_georgia_75th_anniversary/

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