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Portch Discusses Preliminary Proposal to Address Statewide Engineering Needs

Atlanta — August 14, 1998

The Board of Regents may provide programs to educate engineers in South Georgia as early as Fall 1999, according to University System Chancellor Stephen R. Portch, by rolling out collaborative programs that will quickly start to address specifically identified needs in the region.

During meetings today on the Georgia Southern University campus and with business, civic and media leaders in Statesboro, Portch discussed his intention to propose such a response to the Board of Regents at their upcoming monthly meeting in September.

Portch said that his formal proposal to the board will detail his comprehensive plan for engineering education throughout the state, including in South Georgia. If his proposal is approved by the Board of Regents, Portch said that initial programs could be available in the Fall semester of 1999.

“My present thinking, which I will present to the Board, is that we will have four programs in the South Georgia region, two at the undergraduate level and two graduate programs,” Portch stated. “We will work very closely with Georgia Tech’s leadership to design high-quality programs, taking advantage of their worldwide reputation and relationships they have with thousands of companies through their co-op program. “Contingent upon legislative funding, planning and design would start immediately,” Portch said, “with a goal of implementing the programs in Fall 1999.”

Portch will recommend to the regents that Georgia Tech and Georgia Southern collaborate to offer a bachelor of science program in computer and software engineering, to be based in Statesboro at Georgia Southern. Another collaborative undergraduate engineering degree also will be proposed for the region, as yet to be announced.

At the graduate level, the Statesboro community would be served by two master’s degree programs: one in environmental engineering and another in electrical engineering. Both programs would be collaboratively developed with Georgia Tech, and provided primarily through existing distance education degree offerings. In addition, Portch said that he also is considering the development of an additional statewide master’s degree program for current working professionals, that also would be offered via the system’s distance learning network.

Interim Georgia Southern University President Dr. Harry Carter, in responding to the chancellor’s proposal, said: “Georgia Southern is pleased to have the opportunity to work with Georgia Tech in a collaborative partnership to bring engineering programs to our university and to the South Georgia region.”

In return, Georgia Tech President Wayne Clough said in response: “We are looking forward to working with the chancellor’s office, the Board of Regents, and our academic colleagues in South Georgia to develop and deliver engineering programs of importance to the future prosperity of our state.”

Portch’s proposal responds to a report he presented to the Board of Regents at their July meeting. That report, “Engineering Education in Georgia: An Updated Needs Assessment of Supply and Demand,” updated an initial analysis of engineering education needs conducted for the Board of Regents in October 1995.

The most recent report cited that if Georgia’s economy continues to grow – especially with high-end jobs – present enrollment and production plans may not be sufficient in all engineering fields to meet the state’s long-term needs.

Portch was charged in July to “identify creative solutions” that would enable the Board to be responsive in engineering education. The board will hear his full proposal on September 9, 1998.

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