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Blue Ridge Campus nears completion

Dr Jacobs BR2
UNG President Bonita Jacobs greets a small number of UNG faculty and staff on July 14 before signing a beam at the new Blue Ridge Campus to mark another milestone in the project.

Celebrated with an informal "beam-signing" on July 14, completion of the University of North Georgia's (UNG) new standalone Blue Ridge Campus can be counted in days instead of months. With completion of construction imminent, equipment and furniture are expected to be installed in time for the fall semester to begin on Aug. 17.

"This campus in Blue Ridge is a dream come true," UNG President Bonita Jacobs said. "Having a larger location means that we can serve more students and expand course offerings, which will further enhance educational opportunities and the economic development of this region."

Construction on the more than 12,000-square-foot building began in August 2019; ground was broken on the project in October 2018.

Sandy Ott, director of UNG's Blue Ridge Campus, said the new location's design provides for the current needs of the fast-growing campus, and for future growth. Enrollment has increased more than 1,000% in five years, from 20 students upon opening in 2015 to an anticipated enrollment for fall 2020 of 225 students.

The new building, located off Ga. 515 about 3 miles from the current 2,800-square-foot Dunbarton Road facility, will have some 3,500 square feet of classroom space. Classrooms include a computer lab and a full biology lab that can be converted into a chemistry lab.

"This beautiful Blue Ridge Campus will have more classroom and instructional space than our entire previous facility," Ott said. "We've added a computer lab, science lab, and many student-focused spaces so that our students can spend more time on campus every day to study, meet with faculty, and use resources such as the expanded Student Success and Tutoring Center."

Ott said the expanded space also means UNG can offer more courses to students, which will allow them to spend more semesters at the Blue Ridge Campus. Currently, Blue Ridge Campus students only spend between a year and a year-and-a-half there taking required core curriculum classes before they transfer to the Gainesville or Dahlonega campus. This fall, introductory courses in education will be the first courses to be offered in a major area on the campus.

The new location also offers an abundance of shared study spaces, which was an important factor that guided the design. A welcoming entry plaza plus a patio at the rear will be available for students to study, gather or relax between classes. Five dual-occupancy offices are designated for faculty while five offices will be for administrative staff. An invitation-only ribbon-cutting event tentatively is planned for Sept. 16, but a sneak-peek tour of the facility can be viewed on UNG's Facebook page.

The Georgia General Assembly funded the $5.5 million project in the 2019 fiscal year. Georgia Speaker of the House of Representatives David Ralston, a UNG alumnus who represents Georgia District 7 that includes Fannin County, helped secure the funds.

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