by | January 30, 2009 12:00 am

Contrary to information that has circulated recently about a proposed merger of the University System of Georgia (USG) Two Year Colleges and the Technical College System of Georgia, East Georgia College will not be closing and EGC President, Dr. John Black, emphasizes that “students can be assured that continued enrollment at EGC will not adversely affect their pursuit of higher education.” This merger/closing assumption stems from a report submitted to Governor Perdue from a Working Group he appointed last summer to investigate innovative ways to create long-term, comprehensive educational reform designed to make Georgia more globally completive. In a recent meeting, the Governor stated to USG Chancellor, Erroll Davis, that before he makes any decision, he needs to “have all the facts.” As of today, the merger is merely in the early discussion stage. Regardless of the outcome of these discussions, East Georgia College, fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, will not close its operations; students will not be impacted from the standpoint of their transfer credit; and course work taken at EGC – past, present and future – will transfer to any four-year institution, anywhere in the world!

The Working Group, chaired by Dean Allford and Charles Knapp, was to build on the work done by the Governor’s “Investing in Educational Excellence (IE2)” task force and on the national report Tough Choices for Tough Times to determine how Georgia might reform its educational policies and practices affecting needed change in its educational system. Except for the merger proposal, all recommendations are targeted at Pre-K through 12th grade initiatives.

In his charge to the Working Group Governor Perdue said: “I believe the experts serving on this group fully understand the urgency of the challenges we face in education in Georgia. I am confident that they will create a blueprint for change that will facilitate higher achievement, thereby increasing Georgia’s economic competitiveness through our most valuable resource – our children.”

The Work Group charge:

1. Moving students to postsecondary-level work as soon as they demonstrate the necessary aptitude;

2. Enhancing the quality of preschool education opportunities;

3. Improving P-12 teacher quality;

4. Creating high performance school systems (in collaboration with the State BOE);

5. Improving the academic performance of underachieving students;

6. Further enhancing and supporting a world-class P-12 curriculum; and

7. Ensuring the efficient use of the financial resources Georgia devotes to education.

This last item is significant since more than 50% of our state budget is dedicated to education. The draft report included the merger language which was not specifically a part of the charge. Since becoming Chancellor of the University System of Georgia in 2006, Davis has demonstrated his commitment to efficiency at all levels of operation within USG. He will be meeting with Technical College System of Georgia Commissioner, Ron Jackson, and the Governor, to explore alternative ways to enhance efficiency in higher education. It is still much too soon to know whether or not a merger will transpire and the many differences between the University System of Georgia and the Technical College System impede a quick and smooth implementation; the merger would also require significant financial resources from an already struggling State budget. The USG Board of Regents, Senator Jack Hill, and Representative Butch Parrish all oppose the merger and Representative Parrish stated: “I do not believe it will happen in this legislative session.” Swainsboro mayor, Charles Schwabe, has voiced his concerns, as well, and does not support a merger as being in the best long-term interest of Georgia.

East Georgia College is proud of its longstanding, collaborative relationship with Swainsboro Technical College and intends to continue “business as usual” as the fastest growing two-year access and opportunity college within the University System of Georgia by providing quality, student-oriented education at an affordable cost to citizens in east central Georgia.

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