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University of North Georgia expects enrollment of more than 18,000 this fall
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Richard Oates, vice president of the University of North Georgia’s Gainesville campus, sings along to the school's alma mater following the State of the University address in the Hugh M. Mills Physical Education Center at UNG's Gainesville campus. - photo by Erin O. Smith

The University of North Georgia expects more than 18,000 students at its five campuses next week, and the increase will bring 70 new faculty positions.

Bonita Jacobs, president of UNG, used those numbers in her upbeat State of the University address Tuesday at the school’s Gainesville campus.

The faculty-staff convocation was given at the Dahlonega campus Tuesday afternoon.

If enrollment is more than 18,000, it will be the second year in a row UNG has increased its number of students by about 1,000.

UNG’s Gainesville campus has the largest number of students among its five. Dahlonega, the main campus, is second in numbers of students. The school’s Dahlonega campus opened a new dormitory with more than 500 beds this summer.

“We receive more and more applications each year, and the number of students in our region continues to increase,” Jacobs said.

Retention and graduation rates get continuing emphasis, she said. “A huge factor” in that is the availability of student housing.

“If and when we are able to find a way to offer student housing in Gainesville, that, too, will make a difference,” Jacobs said.

Jacobs touted the university’s accomplishments, based on its goals in its strategic plan.

She noted that “massive changes” are occurring in academic disciplines to meet needs in a global marketplace. She emphasized opportunities for UNG students in studying abroad and in programs such as the new degree in strategic and security studies.

The president noted funding for scholarships has increased from less than $500,000 three years ago to nearly $2.5 million annually.

UNG’s endowment, she said, has grown to more than $50 million, one of six to reach that mark in the University System of Georgia. Four of those, she said, are the research institutions.

UNG is starting two new efforts this year, Jacobs said. One is to document the traditions and activities that contribute to each campus’ culture, educational environment and student experience, and the second is a long-term effort to communicate UNG’s identity and mission.

“Traditions are important because of their ability to connect us to one another as a community,” she said of the first goal.

The branding “is not a trivial endeavor,” Jacobs declared. It helps the university attract students, faculty and staff and helps it compete for research dollars and community support. She announced the new brand for UNG will be “lead where it counts.”

UNG makes an economic impact on its region, Jacobs said, noting that amounts to $545 million a year over a 17-county area.

Jacobs said the university has spent $5.2 million in four years on equity adjustments for faculty and staff salaries and another $4.8 million in merit increases.

“Like all universities today, we have challenges on our campuses with increasing reports of safety issues, lack of civility in social media and frequent polarization in lieu of conflict resolution,” Jacobs said.

Those are being addressed through an increased emphasis on diversity — the new OURS campaign, which represents open, understanding, respectful and safe — and in the university’s emphasis on leadership and character development.

Jacobs told the more than 200 faculty and staff at the event, “Thank you for the little things, the day-to-day things you do.”

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