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Ribbon-cutting set for new Blue Ridge Campus

UNG's new Blue Ridge Campus opened to students earlier this month. A ribbon-cutting is scheduled for 11 a.m. Sept. 16.

The University of North Georgia's (UNG) stand-alone Blue Ridge Campus opened its doors to students earlier this month. At 11 a.m. Sept. 16, UNG will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a limited number of guests, in accordance with social distancing guidelines and to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. The university will broadcast the celebration on the UNG Facebook page.

Growing from 20 students when it opened in 2015 to 232 this fall, the Blue Ridge Campus continues to expand access to higher education close to home for these students.

"It's not just a UNG building. This campus is the community's, and they are equally excited about the opportunities and what's happening here," said Sandy Ott, director of UNG's Blue Ridge Campus. "Having the Blue Ridge Campus has opened so many doors and opportunities, especially for students in this region of north Georgia who weren't sure what to do after high school. It gives them the option to start close to home with the support of their family and friends."

The new building has some 3,500 square feet of classroom space. Classrooms include a computer lab and a full biology lab with the option of additional lab courses in the future as the campus grows.

Ott said the expanded space means UNG can offer more courses to students, which will allow students to spend more semesters at the Blue Ridge Campus. Previously, students could only spend two or three semesters there taking required core curriculum classes before they transferred to the Gainesville or Dahlonega campus. This fall, introductory courses in education will be the first ones to be offered in a major.

Emily Beavers, a sophomore pursuing a degree in elementary and special education, is grateful to take her first two education courses – "Foundations of Numbers and Math" and "Integrated Physical Science" – on the Blue Ridge Campus.

"On this campus, I can connect with students and professors easier and get that one-on-one experience," Beavers said. "It's super helpful."

Dr. Nathan Price, coordinator for the Blue Ridge Scholars and assistant professor of political science and international affairs, has been with the Blue Ridge Campus since the original location opened. Now, he is thrilled to help open the new campus, located off Ga. 515 about 3 miles from the previous 2,800-square-foot Dunbarton Road facility.

"It means everything to us. I've always worried we don't look the part of a university campus," Price said. "We know we're very connected to UNG's mission and have our own things we emphasize. To have a building symbolizes that we're here to stay and we offer a real college experience."

Dr. Michael Rogers, assistant vice president for Academic Affairs on the Blue Ridge Campus, said the opportunity to offer biology and anatomy and physiology courses will help students who want to enter UNG's Bachelor of Science in Nursing program.

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 or relax between classes. Five dual-occupancy offices are designated for faculty while five offices will be for administrative staff.

"This makes a statement to the Fannin County community that UNG is going to be here for the long haul," Rogers said. "When people see that building, they see the time and money invested."

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