As the University of North Georgia experiences growth on all of its campuses, its administration is looking to expand to nearby facilities.
UNG President Bonita Jacobs held an economic development and community engagement lunch Wednesday at Scott’s Downtown in Gainesville, where she addressed the growth potential on the Gainesville campus into the facilities Lanier Technical College will vacate when it moves to Ga. 365.
“Unless something goes amiss along the way, we anticipate that the property will be used for expansion on the Gainesville campus,” Jacobs said. “We’re meeting with Lanier Tech leadership next week, I believe, and actually doing a walk-through. We are working very closely with (President) Ray Perren and Lanier Tech, because we both have the same interests. And that is to serve Hall County and its regions next to us.”
During the lunch with numerous Gainesville stakeholders, Jacobs discussed the growth on all five UNG campuses, since the consolidation of the former Gainesville State College and North Georgia College and State University three years ago.
“When consolidation was first announced, I remember talking to many of you and challenging many of you to imagine what we could become, as we become an institution that covers this 30-county region,” Jacobs said.
The growth of UNG’s nursing program to the Gainesville campus is one of several highlights since the consolidation.
“The medical profession in Gainesville is incredibly important, and you’ve probably been reading stories about our new simulation,” she said. “We’ve created basically a hospital environment, and we have mannequins that can bleed, that can give birth to another mannequin. The students are able to get a real-world experience, and we have been very, very happy with the partnership with the medical community.”
The success of the university is parallel to the strengths of the community, Jacobs said.
“One of the reasons we have been successful at consolidation is we have not tried to make everyone the same,” she said. “We have honored the traditions and the mission of each of our communities.”
Jacobs also fielded questions from the guests, including a question about potential growth in sports at the Gainesville campus.
She said she is “very hopeful,” but adding to the campus’s sports programs will take time and it is not something the university currently has permission from the Board of Regents to do.
“Sports can be very, very expensive,” she said. “... I just hope that down the road we can have that conversation. I do believe it would be really important to the community in Gainesville, but the time is not right yet.”