For students like Kyra Jordan and Kayla Roberts, the first day of classes at the new Lanier Technical College campus off Ga. 365 in Gainesville on Tuesday, Jan. 22, was like night and day compared with last semester.
“The old campus kind of felt like an old elementary school,” Jordan said. “It needed updating.”
More and larger classrooms, open spaces like the quad, break rooms and conference spaces, and other amenities speak to the impressive change.
Roberts said that when she first transferred from the University of North Georgia to Lanier Tech, which had shared a campus in Oakwood, it was “definitely a culture shock.”
The aging, one-story facilities didn’t exude what she was accustomed to in a college campus.
“But this place is beautiful,” Roberts said.
Lanier Tech’s new 335,000-square-foot campus is located on 95 acres, more than double the size of the college’s former location, and was built at a cost of about $150 million.
It can accommodate more than 5,000 students and is the first newly constructed technical college campus since the formation of the Technical College System of Georgia in 2007, which includes 22 colleges.
Lanier Tech President Dr. Ray Perren said: “Today, our students breathed life into the bricks and mortar in these buildings to make this place a living, breathing campus. It is extremely gratifying to see this dream come to life. We are thrilled to have the students here and classes underway. The day is going very smoothly thanks to the great preparation of our outstanding faculty and staff.”
Lanier Tech’s main campus had been located off Mundy Mill Road since the 1970s, with classes first beginning in 1966 and held in local schools, churches and civic buildings, according to its website.
School officials have said the new location is optimal for growing enrollment.
Lanier Tech spokesman Dave Parrish said the campus would support education for Northeast Georgians for generations.
“This is a unique, historic day for North Georgia and the Gainesville area,” Parrish said. “This will change lives generation after generation after generation.”
The new campus includes six buildings for technical education instruction, including an economic development and campus support building, instructional building, and an administration building and student center.
It also includes a 40,000-square-foot conference center with a 20,000-square-foot ballroom that will seat 750 “banquet style” and 1,500 people “theater style.”
“I’ve never seen anything quite like this,” Parrish said. “It just enthuses everybody coming in the door.”
Debora Paul, who was attending her first day of classes in her first semester at Lanier Tech, was impressed.
“I think everything’s really nice so far,” she said.
Paul, who is from Forsyth County, is enrolled in the college’s practical nursing program and lauded the resources available to her.
“I’m excited to use all the labs,” she said.
Pennie Eddy, director and instructor for Lanier Tech’s accounting program, said the conference center, equipped with technology like interactive white boards, is an important resource for her students and will be utilized to give business presentations.
“I think it’s fabulous,” Eddy said of the entire campus. “It’s state-of-the-art.”
The new campus offers Lanier Tech’s 45 existing programs, as well as four new programs. The campus also has outdoor instructional space, including a commercial truck driving range and a burn tower for fire science instruction.
Stephen Everett, who is studying business management, has witnessed the changes from the old campus to the new.
“There’s no gravel parking,” he said with a chuckle.
His friend and fellow student, Travis Earls, said there is also more parking, which had become something of a headache at the old campus.
Earls also said that new equipment and resources, such as more computers in the library, also made for important additions to the new campus.
Everett said the many break rooms and small conference spaces were nice additions that will help him “to avoid distractions and help me with my studies.”