STATESBORO, GA (WTOC) - The Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia has granted the final approval of the consolidation between Georgia Southern University and Armstrong State University.
Starting Jan. 1, Armstrong State University will now be known as the Armstrong campus of Georgia Southern University.
Since 2011, the University System of Georgia has downsized from 35 colleges and universities to now 28.
Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College and Bainbridge State College will also be consolidated as the new Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College.
Both consolidations are effective January 1, 2018.
"As we continue to grow those opportunities and push the positive aspects of the consolidation, everyone will come along," Georgia Southern President Jaimie Hebert said Wednesday. He's confident the transition from Armstrong State to Georgia Southern will be smooth.
This comes as the Board of Regents finalizes the consolidation of both schools. However, just days before faculty and students were still showing off their pirate pride at the final graduation.
According to graduate Marie McDonald, she's more proud to have the name Armstrong State University on her diploma. "I just have a lot of pride in my school and so to see the changes that are coming is scary," McDonald said.
Those changes include faculty and staff making the one hour commute from Savannah to the Statesboro campus for potential meetings and possibly to teach classes. The GSU President is looking at this change from the positive side.
"Adjusting to the logistics commuting back and forth for meetings and so forth, you know there's time on the road," Hebert said. "But there's also time to meet new colleagues. There's time to build new friendships. There's time to look at the opportunities that are coming forward."
Fortunately, students are guaranteed no change in their current campuses. According to Hebert, "students will be able to stay in the programs they entered and graduate in the programs they entered on the campuses where they entered."
Ali Wells just graduated from Armstrong State and served as a campus representative in the consolidation process. She'll be attending graduate school at the new Georgia Southern campus next month.
"You know people that go to Armstrong chose to go to Armstrong for a reason," Wells said. "And I don't know, I kind of feel like it's messed up that we didn't get a choice."
One of those big changes will be for athletics. Armstrong State was a division two athletic school while Georgia Southern is division one. Now, all sports will be played by Georgia Southern at the Statesboro campus leaving the Armstrong athletic facilities empty. Other logistical changes already happening include the transition in campus police.
"This is kind of unique in amongst consolidations. This is the Armstrong campus of Georgia Southern with twenty-five percent of our student body located here," Hebert said. "It is a significant aspect of who we are in this new institution."
"You know them keeping the name Armstrong is nice, but it won't matter in five years when people don't know what Armstrong was," Wells said.
Officials working on an exact time for when Armstrong signs and banners will be replaced, but they did say they expect to represent one brand.