It's official: the University of North Georgia has been created through the consolidation of North Georgia College & State University and Gainesville State College. The University System of Georgia (USG) Board of Regents approved the consolidation – along with three others that have also been in progress during the past year – at its meeting Jan. 8.
After adopting four separate resolutions authorizing the new consolidated institutions, the regents appointed presidents of each of the institutions, including Dr. Bonita Jacobs as president of the University of North Georgia.
"We are excited to have reached this stage in our consolidation and the ability to now move forward as one institution," Jacobs said. "Our goal is to provide new and enhanced pathways for students to pursue higher education and to complete their college degrees in an educational environment that will foster their development and success as leaders."
The University of North Georgia (UNG) comprises four campuses – in Cumming, Dahlonega, Gainesville, and Oconee County – and a student population of about 16,000 students, making it the seventh-largest public university in Georgia. UNG is planning campus-based events on Thursday, Jan. 10, for faculty, staff, students, and community members to celebrate the work that has been conducted toward consolidation and to mark a new chapter in the university's history.
"The board's actions represent the culmination of a tremendous amount of work by many individuals, both on the campuses and at the System Office," said USG Chancellor Hank Huckaby. "We identified the opportunity, did our homework and then moved quickly, but thoroughly, to follow through."
While much work remains to be done to ensure the transition to the new institutions, all now will begin to operate under their new names and missions to provide academic programming, and to recruit and enroll students.
The UNG faculty and staff will have its first business meeting on Jan. 11 to approve the university's statutes and bylaws for its Faculty Senate and Staff Council organizations. Other operational components, such as the university's academic schedule, curriculum and budgets will be consolidated over the next few months.
"UNG will be one of the few universities in the country, if not the only one, to offer such a broad range of degrees and educational opportunities," Jacobs said. "Individually, our institutions have been leaders in our sectors. Combined, the scope of our degree programs – from certificates and associate's degrees to doctoral level programs, along with other elements of our mission, like the Corps of Cadets and multi-campus sites, create a new and rare educational experience."
UNG is designated by the University System of Georgia as a state leadership institution and is designated by the Georgia Legislature as The Military College of Georgia. It is one of only six senior military colleges in the United States and its Corps of Cadets numbers more than 750 students.
Shelley Nickel, associate vice chancellor for Planning and Implementation, said the consolidations will enable the USG to better use its resources to increase the scope of academic programming and options available to students in the areas served by the new consolidated institutions.
"First with the Technical College System of Georgia and now in the University System, Georgia has shown national leadership in our willingness to assess our structure and make major changes designed to better serve the state and students," Nickel said. "In the University System, the past year has seen a tremendous amount of work as we have moved quickly and comprehensively to create new institutions for a new era."
Huckaby announced his consolidation plan in Sept. of 2011 and the regents approved six principles for consolidation in November of that year. At its Jan. 2012 meeting the regents approved the recommendations to consolidate the eight institutions. Working groups on the campuses and at the system office then began the complex process of consolidation.The regents approved new mission statement and name for the University of North Georgia in May 2012, and in December 2012, SACS gave its approval to the institution's consolidation plan.