GA consolidates colleges to save money, GSU/ASU merger decision - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

GA consolidates colleges to save money, GSU/ASU merger decision on Wednesday

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SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

Teachers and students at Armstrong State are anxiously waiting as the Georgia Board of Regents prepares to vote Wednesday on a consolidation between ASU and Georgia Southern University.

A lot of folks tell us they feel like it came out of nowhere. The concern I've heard the most is the possibility of losing their name, their identity as "Armstrong." 

Teachers and students were out on campus rallying in front of the student union again Tuesday, opposing the proposed consolidation between ASU and GSU. The Board of Regents is expected to take a vote in Atlanta on Wednesday, which also includes a proposed consolidation between Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College (ABAC) and Bainbridge College.

We've spoken to several folks on campus Tuesday including one basketball player who fears her athletic career is now in jeopardy.

"There is no guarantee to be in the program. You know if they want you, they want you. If not, you're hung out to dry,” said ASU basketball player Machala Raymonville.

Consolidating schools is actually nothing new among the University System of Georgia. In fact since 2011, the Board of Regents successfully consolidated seven colleges and universities all across the state.

Did this all start as a way for the state to save money? It sure did.

In fact, the state went from 35 public colleges and universities in 2011 to 28 colleges and that number could drop even lower after Wednesday's vote.

"I don't think that it's fair,” said Raymonville.

Whether it's faculty, staff or students at Armstrong, most folks on campus currently share the same sentiment.

"It would have been nice to have a little more heads up that this was happening,” said ASU professor, Tony Morris.

It's only been four days since they received the news and Wednesday is the Board of Regents vote.

"We've heard it's pretty much a done deal,” said Faye Kirschner.

It's not a done deal yet but it's a deal that has been done before. In fact, the Board of Regents has successfully consolidated 14 different universities reducing the state’s public schools from 35 to 28.

"Maybe the state had been too ambitious in the past, opening as many as campuses as they have,” said Morris.

According to state officials, in 2011 the Board of Regents Chancellor announced they would start looking for schools to consolidate as a way to be more efficient with state resources and to save money.

A harsh reality that even Armstrong professors recognize is probably the best thing for the state.

"It's going to help to not have to pay for the two campuses. I mean it's a huge saving,” said Morris.

In 2015, Albany State University and Darton State College consolidated and so did Georgia State University and Georgia Perimeter College.

In 2013, Kennesaw State University and Southern Polytechnic State University consolidated.

State officials say deciding on which schools to consolidate is an internal process. So every school that's consolidated in the past has only received a few days’ notice before the board takes a vote.

For more information on consolidation of institutions from the University System of Georgia, please click here

The tuition and fees for the 2016-17 academic calendar for Armstrong State University and Georgia Southern University.  

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