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University system "down the road of merger process
Board of Regents still unsure of savings
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Gainesville State College and North Georgia College & State University consolidation committee

  • Al Panu, vice president for academic affairs, GSC
  • Alicia Caudill, associate vice president of student affairs, GSC
  • Mary Transue, vice president for institutional advancement, GSC
  • Wanda Alridge, interim vice president for business and finance, GSC
  • Billy Wells, military programs vice president, executive affairs, NGCSU
  • Mac McConnell, vice president business and finance, NGCSU
  • Chris Stenander, Alumni Council chairman, GSC
  • Bob Babich
  • Doug Parks
  • Chaudron Gille, associate vice president for academic affairs, professor of French, GSC
  • Ric Kabat, professor of history, GSC
  • Bob Michael, Deans' Council School of Education, NGCSU
  • Dianna Spence, math department, NGCSU
  • Jeffrey Marker, associate professor of film and English, chairman of Faculty Senate, GSC
  • Michael Proulx, Faculty Senate NGCSU History & Philosophy
  • Rich White, GSC Foundation chairman, alumnus
  • Mary Helen McGruder, NGCSU
  • Susan Daniell, banner specialist, GSC
  • Darcy Hayes, student affairs, NGCSU
  • Kristen Roney, assistant academic vice president for academic affairs, GSC
  • Dylan Brooks, Student Government Association, GSC
  • David J. Bonham, Corps of Cadets, NGCSU
  • Patrick Pickens, Student Government Association, NGCSU


How much will a proposed merger of eight Georgia colleges save?

It's hard to tell.

Executive Vice Chancellor to the University System of Georgia Steve Wrigley told members of the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce on Thursday that financial savings are certainly a goal of the planned merger, but deciding how much is a "complex" calculation.

Some of the institutions involved in the merger don't have a way to conduct an internal audit.

"It really is difficult at this stage to do a calculation," said Wrigley.

But Wrigley said a number of the costs will come from administration and eliminating duplication at the administrative level.

Whatever money is saved, Wrigley said will be reinvested in academics. With the merger, the University System of Georgia is shifting its focus toward having more students complete degrees and away from enrollment numbers and new buildings.

"That's really the bigger question: How should the University System of Georgia look, be organized in order to be better and to provide more opportunities for students?" said Wrigley.

Wrigley said the merger has been in the works at least since the day he started at the Board of Regents on July 1. Few states have attempted college consolidations, but Wrigley said he thinks other states will follow suit if Georgia is successful.

While the Board of Regents is emphasizing a desire to increase academic opportunities through the merger — Wrigley said Gainesville State students will almost immediately have greater access to more 4-year degree programs and graduate degree programs as a result — fiscal issues are an important part of the proposal.

The system has lost $1 billion in funding over the last four years, and Chancellor Hank Huckaby speaks often about the "new normal" when it comes to funding.

"We don't have to keep thinking that we'll sit still until things return to the way they were, because that's not going to happen," said Wrigley. "So the chancellor's view is we're going to move forward, deal with the reality at hand and find different ways to organize ourselves to make sure we're still offering the kinds of opportunities to students that we need to."

Already, the state's system is "well down the road" toward implementation of the merger, which includes combining Gainesville State College with North Georgia College & State University, Wrigley said.

Already, the schools have begun to work toward merging the computer systems for the eight schools chosen for the merger, Wrigley said. Each of the institutions have "consolidation working groups" to work as a sounding board for ideas on how to proceed with certain aspects of the merger.

School officials hope to have the merger complete by fall of 2013.

"We know that change always brings fear and raises questions," said Philip Wilheit, an at-large member of the Board of Regents.