Georgia Southern students react to consolidation announcement

STATESBORO, GA (WTOC) - The Georgia Southern/Armstrong merger is part of a five-year, statewide effort by the University System of Georgia to save millions of dollars by consolidating schools and resources.

Even though their school is keeping its name, several students I spoke to Wednesday do wonder what the consolidation will mean for GSU's identity.

At Wednesday's vote in Atlanta, staff for the University System of Georgia acknowledged there will be challenges beyond the consolidation process for Georgia Southern and Armstrong State, like driving distance, blending of missions and cultures and continuing community and alumni support.

"As we go through this it's going to be very important that we maintain that support in what we do and how we do it," said John Fuchko III, with the University System of Georgia.

Since hearing about the merger vote, one of the biggest rubs for ASU students and faculty is the loss of their identity. GSU's president says they will work preserve the Armstrong name through the transition.

But some GSU students are wondering how much their college experience will change, with the merger making GSU the fourth largest public university in the state.

"It's definitely a concern that the administration and faculty might lose the personal touch they have with a lot of students here," said GSU freshman Samuel Campbell.

One student I spoke to had a unique perspective on school consolidations.

"I actually just transferred here this year from Southern Polytech, which merged with Kennesaw. So I knew people who applied to Southern Polytech and wanted to graduate there because it's a good school. And then they ended up graduating with a Kennesaw degree, and that definitely, a lot of people were sad about that," said transfer student Tim Hampl.

Both schools offer more than one hundred degree programs. Many of those are similar. Each university is strong in education, technology and medical fields in their own, unique way.

School leaders say they will try to bring similar programs together and they'll be evaluating how all that will work over the next 18 months.

Breaking down the numbers between the two schools now. Together, GSU and ASU will become Georgia's fourth largest public university.

As far as 2016 goes, Southern has more than 20,000 students and 700 full-time instructional faculty members. Armstrong has a little more than 7,000 students and close to 300 full-time faculty.

However, there is not much of a difference between student to faculty ratio. It's 21 to 1 at GSU and 19 to 1 at ASU.

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

For more information on the Board of Regents consolidation process, click here.

For more information on the consolidation between Armstrong State and Georgia Southern, click here.

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