Regents approves consolidation for Georgia Southern, Armstrong State

Regents approves consolidation for Georgia Southern, Armstrong State
(Source: WTOC graphics)
(Source: WTOC graphics)

ATLANTA (WTOC) - The Board of Regents voted Wednesday morning to proceed with the consolidation of Georgia Southern University and Armstrong State University as recommended by University System of Georgia Chancellor Steve Wrigley.

The combined institution will be named Georgia Southern University, according to Dr. Jaimie Hebert, President, Georgia Southern University.

Georgia Southern President Dr. Hebert issued the following statement to all school Alumni after the consolidation approval was announced:

After a great deal of consideration, the Board of Regents voted today to proceed with the consolidation of Georgia Southern University and Armstrong State University as recommended by University System of Georgia Chancellor Steve Wrigley. The combined institution will be named Georgia Southern University.
 
With more than 27,000 students, Georgia Southern University will become the fourth largest public university in the state of Georgia. As Chancellor Wrigley stated, "Armstrong State University and Georgia Southern University are already the top destinations for students seeking public higher education in southeast Georgia. Creating the new Georgia Southern University will combine the best of both institutions, which ultimately serve many of the same students."
 
As we move forward, I will lead an implementation team with representatives from across the Georgia Southern University community. We will work closely with members of Armstrong State University and leadership at the University System of Georgia. We will hold Town Hall sessions on Thursday, Jan. 19 at each institution so our entire community – on and off-campus – will have an opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback on the consolidation. We welcome your input. These Town Hall sessions will be streamed live on the new consolidation website consolidation.georgiasouthern.edu. I encourage you to visit this site often for updates.

President Hebert says the consolidation process will take approximately 18 months and will be a joint effort led by representatives from both Georgia Southern and Armstrong. A timeline will be developed at a later date.

On the heels of the vote, leaders from both schools stressed working together.

"It will be a combination of two very strong institutions. Each of us brings strengths to the table, and those are unique strengths," said Dr. Linda Bleicken, Armstrong State University president.

School leaders say they'll try to bring similar programs together and offer services where possible at the other school. All say the process will take time and input.

"We're going to be at the table with hundreds, literally hundreds, of our colleagues and friends from Armstrong as well as people from the Statesboro campus to talk about optimizing the strengths of the two institution," said Dr. Hebert.

Savannah Regent Don Waters called the move a "no brainer" and a way to build a powerhouse in the region. He did have one request.

"I would just ask that we somehow incorporate to the school or the campus the name Armstrong to remember the Armstrong family," said Waters.

While the deal is said and done, there are still ways for students, alumni and faculty to stay informed on future decisions.

Next Thursday, Town Hall Meetings will be held at both universities. We are still waiting on a specific time GSU 's meeting, but ASU's meeting is scheduled to take place at 4:30 p.m. inside the Fine Arts Auditorium.

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.

Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College (ABAC) in Tifton will merge with Bainbridge State College.

Both campuses will use the Abraham Baldwin name. They have nearly 6,000 students total. The changes are expected to take effect in the fall of 2018 at the earliest.

The consolidation ultimately leaves one more University System of Georgia public university in Savannah: Savannah State University.

The school was actually brought up during Wednesday's vote.

"We look forward to the opportunity as we go through this, to partner with Savannah State. They're going to have a seat at the table as we consider the academic programs and the total package if you will, of what's offered from an academic perspective across the region to our students," said John Fuchko III, with the University System of Georgia.

We don't know what will happen to Savannah State University, but we do know this is not the end of campus consolidations and changes by the University System of Georgia. We will keep you updated.

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