1/22: College consolidation in Georgia

The AJC Editorial Board

The pain and challenges of merging eight campuses must lead to benefits greater than financial savings. The quality of higher education and access to it must improve for Georgia students.

Ever since the GI Bill flooded campuses with thousands of new students, America’s colleges have followed one model — a growth model. But, as Thomas Longin, board president of the Society for College and University Planning, said, “Everyone is real clear now that the new normal doesn’t look anything like a growth model, and, no matter what else you do, you are going to have to consolidate programs.”

To its credit, Georgia has embraced that new economic reality sooner than most states, taking the unprecedented and unpopular action of consolidating eight colleges into four. In doing so, however, the state has to ensure that consolidation leads to improved quality at its reshaped institutions.

The University System has to communicate that the pain caused by consolidation — the job losses, program eliminations and blows to civic pride — is outweighed by the education and efficiency enhancements that will result. Lawmakers and community leaders are already objecting to the plan. Such political fallout has made consolidation a rarity in public education.

Read the rest of what the editorial board has to say. Then read views from Hank Huckaby, chancellor of the University System of Georgia and Rep. Mark Hatfield, R-Waycross, and tell us what you think.

5 comments Add your comment

Halftrack

January 22nd, 2012
5:30 pm

Our Colleges were expanded so that a College would be close to the students that would use them and that they most likely could commute and live at home as they attended. The GI Bill brought this into focus and our State benefited from educating returned armed forces guys and our State prospered. Low cost for an education was the main idea. Today, we have too much administrative overhead per pupil than years gone by and our graduates know how to do what? They know how to demonstrate, riot, and occupy for more money and benefits with doing something the old fashion way of earning it.

zeke

January 22nd, 2012
11:03 am

To Amazed: It appears to me that you, like most all other transplants, may be the ones who are ignorant and uneducated! All the Southern states have their flaws, but, seemingly are so much better than the other states that all you morons want to leave and come to live here!!@ BUT, then all you can talk about is how it was done where you escaped from, or, how much better it was there!! OK, GO BACK!!!

Amazed

January 22nd, 2012
12:31 am

What is amazing to me, coming from elsewhere in the country is how many colleges and universities there are in this state. What is more amazing is that despite how available higher education is, how completely ignorant and seemingly uneducated the citizens of this state are. I guess it just goes to show that there is a difference between educated and intelligent.

SAWB

January 21st, 2012
2:23 pm

Why don’t we simply have all University System institutions under the umbrella of The University of Georgia? For instance UGA at Gwinnett, UGA at Carrollton, UGA at Kennesaw etc. Eliminate all the bloated administrations at these various places and reduce tuition cost.

jd

January 21st, 2012
1:35 pm

It is not the University Systems responsibility alone to communicate the advantages of consolidation. All citizens, chambers of commerce, and even the news media should work together to communicate the good in proper planning for educational opportunities. You, AJC, must be a partner in communicating what we need to hear. Don’t focus so much on the petty fights — focus on the outcomes.