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Young Harris College president details plans for expansion

POSTED: June 27, 2008 5:01 a.m.
Sara Guevara/The Times

Cathy Cox, president of Young Harris College, speaks at the Gainesville Rotary Club's meeting Monday at the Gainesville Civic Center.

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Young Harris College President Cathy Cox was the featured speaker Monday at the Rotary Club of Gainesville meeting.

Cox, who is an honorary lifetime member of her hometown Rotary Club in Bainbridge, said it felt good to visit Gainesville again.

"This has been like a second home to me over the years," she said.

Cox recounted her days as a cops reporter at The Times and said she was glad to be back in Gainesville, but this time she is "wearing a different hat."

Cox was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 1993 and served as secretary of state from 1999 until 2007. And in June 2007, Cox became the president of Young Harris College.

"It is a pleasure to be ... in the presence of two great colleges like Brenau and Gainesville State here, and the great leadership of Ed Schrader and Martha Nesbitt, both of whom have been good, good friends to me for a long time, but especially since I became a college president," Cox said. "Both of them have offered me a lot of advice and guidance and resources, and I appreciate that very much."

Cox divulged her ambitious plans for Young Harris College to Gainesville Rotarians during lunch at the Gainesville Civic Center.

The school is in the process of expanding its curriculum to include four-year college degrees. She said the college soon will apply to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools for accreditation of four-year degrees in business, biology, English and music.

By next summer, the school’s faculty will be increased by 50 percent, Cox said.

More than a dozen new faculty members are being hired at the Methodist college this summer, with another dozen professors scheduled for hire next summer.

She said the school also is breaking ground this summer on a $15 million residence hall.

"We are already bursting at the seams in our enrollment," Cox said.

She said enrollment typically has hovered around 600 students, but about 685 students are scheduled to attend classes this fall.

College faculty members are also in the process of devising a campus master plan to guide the school through the next decade. Cox said the plan is calling for about $200 million in construction costs to grow the school’s facilities, academic scope and numbers.

She said she would like to see the school’s enrollment peak at about 1,500 students in the near future.

"It has been a really whirlwind year to put together a completely new strategic plan to completely overhaul our mission and values and vision statements and to look at what we can do to take a really great two-year college and make it into a world-class, four-year liberal arts college," Cox said. "That’s what we’re really all about."

Also at the Monday Rotary meeting, Brandon Boone was awarded the 2008 Farm Family of the Year Award. Boone, grandson of Charles Boone, is a fourth generation poultry farmer. The University of Georgia graduate is employed with Mar-Jac Poultry, Inc.

Gay Fuller was honored with the Paul Harris Fellow Award at the meeting for her dedication in assisting the Rotary Club with its annual February banquet.


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