Middle Georgia State College Now a Reality

Author: News Bureau
Posted: Monday, January 7, 2013 3:07 PM
Category: Pressroom

Macon, GA

Middle Georgia State College – a new baccalaureate-granting institution with five campuses located throughout the region – today became a reality.

Nearly one year to the day after recommending the consolidation of Macon State College and Middle Georgia College, the University System of Georgia’s Board of Regents, meeting today, voted unanimously to make it official. The Macon and Warner Robins campuses of the former Macon State College and the Cochran, Dublin and Eastman campuses of the former Middle Georgia College now form a single institution that is expected to become a university within a few years.

“This is a historic day for Middle Georgia, one that will have a profound impact on higher education in this region,” said Dr. John B. Black, former interim president of Macon State who today became interim president of Middle Georgia State College. “We still have a lot of work to do to make sure this merger is successful over the long term, and I am confident it will be, but today we reached the most important milestone. We move forward from here as Middle Georgia State College, with five campuses and nearly 9,000 students.”

With the Regents’ support, University System chancellor Hank Huckaby last year proposed consolidation of eight institutions as part of his focus on increasing college completion rates, broadening access to public higher education and maintaining affordability. Macon State and Middle Georgia were chosen as consolidation partners due to the potential that one regional institution could increase degree offerings to a larger geographic area, enhance education attainment rates and expand distance-learning options.

Over the last year, numerous work groups and subcommittees addressed a staggering number of issues related to consolidation. How would two different academic structures be combined? What about accreditation? How would differences in tuition rates be resolved? What about athletics, given that only one college (Middle Georgia) offered intercollegiate sports? How would student information systems be merged and other technology issues addressed? What about differences in faculty matters, such as governance, promotion and tenure?

Not every issue is fully resolved, and Black emphasized that the consolidation details will continue to be worked on for some time to come. “The phrase ‘building the plane while flying it’ most definitely applies here,” he said.

But a solid foundation for the new Middle Georgia State College has been laid:

  • In December 2012, officials from SACS, the Southeast’s accrediting organization for higher education, announced the approval of the Substantive Change Prospectus submitted by Middle Georgia State College. That was the final step needed for the Board of Regents to grant its authorization today for the new institution to begin to operate and to appoint a president.
  • The new institution is guided by this mission statement: “The mission of Middle Georgia State College is to serve the educational needs of a diverse population through high quality programs connected to community needs in a global context and to serve as a leader for the intellectual, economic, and cultural life of the region.”
  • Based on the fall 2012 enrollments of the formerly separate institutions, Middle Georgia State has a current enrollment of about 8,800 students. It offers 20 bachelor’s degrees, along with a wide variety of associate’s degrees. Some certificate programs, mostly concentrated at Middle Georgia State’s Aviation Campus in Eastman, are also offered. Student housing is located on the Macon, Cochran and Eastman campuses. (See campus descriptions below.)
  • Discussions continue about which academic programs will be offered on what campuses, but one move sure to take place is the expansion of bachelor’s degree programs on the Cochran Campus, which was the former Middle Georgia College’s main campus. Middle Georgia College was the oldest residential two-year institution of higher education in the nation, although it had recently begun to offer a few bachelor’s degrees. Macon State became a baccalaureate institution in 1997 and eventually offered as many as 18 bachelor’s degrees.
  • The new college’s interim president and the vice president for academic affairs are based at the Macon Campus, considered the “main” campus of Middle Georgia State. An associate vice president for academic affairs/dean is based at the Cochran Campus. Day-to-day operations on the Eastman and Warner Robins campuses will be overseen by deans. A director will oversee the Dublin Campus’s daily operations.
  • Middle Georgia State’s academic schools are: School of Aviation; School of Business; School of Distance Education; School of Education; School of Health Sciences; School of Information Technology; School of Liberal Arts; School of Science and Mathematics; and School of Social Sciences. Each school has a dean. All schools except Distance Education are further divided into academic departments, each with a chairperson.
  • A Middle Georgia State College website homepage and tier one pages are live at www.mga.edu, but developing a complete website for the new institution will be an ongoing project. For at least a while, students will continue to be directed to “old” deeper level Macon State and Middle Georgia webpages for detailed information on academic programs and other topics.
  • A work team of faculty leaders is working on a model for a Middle Georgia State College faculty senate.
  • A single tuition rate is set, although the activities fees students pay will vary, depending on where they take their classes and their number of credit hours.
  • Because the two colleges had already developed their spring 2013 academic calendars, with two different spring breaks scheduled, the calendar was redone. A new spring break for the week of March 4-8, 2013, was scheduled for Middle Georgia State.
  • A spring 2013 graduation date has been scheduled for May 10, with the ceremony planned for the Macon Coliseum.
  • “Knights” is the new college’s mascot, and purple, black and silver/gray are the new colors, as voted on by students. A mascot logo has been chosen. An institutional logo is under development.
  • Intercollegiate sports in basketball, soccer, baseball and softball are based on the Cochran Campus and will continue to compete in the National Junior College Athletic Association but will eventually seek to join the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. Club football and other club sports based on the Macon Campus have been successful, and discussions are ongoing about the future of club sports at Middle Georgia State.
  • The philanthropic foundations of the former Macon State and Middle Georgia colleges have been realigned. The Middle Georgia State College Foundation was created and designated the philanthropic foundation. It now holds all donor-contributed funds of both colleges. The Middle Georgia State College Real Estate Foundation was created to manage student housing and other facilities funded by bonds.
Middle Georgia State academic leaders said the work invested in consolidating academic programs resulted in a plan that will meet the region’s current and future higher education needs for years to come.

Dr. Martha Venn, vice president for academic affairs, noted that the new institution will have a broad reach, with five brick-and-mortar campuses basically encircling the Middle Georgia region.

“I really believe that Middle Georgia State College is going to be a force to be reckoned with,” she said. “One of the greatest impacts is going to be our ability to help adults who already have some college to come back and complete degrees. That’s a target demographic of the governor’s Complete College Georgia initiative. We’ll have more options for those students, whether it’s taking evening classes on a physical campus or taking more courses online.”

Venn said Middle Georgia State will place great emphasis on being quick and nimble in providing programs that meet evolving professional workforce needs.

Dr. Mary Lou Frank, associate vice president for academic affairs and dean of the Cochran Campus, said consolidation means more programs for students and the region. “The new institution has five campuses and, combined with a strong distance learning program, we will be able to deliver college courses and degree programs to more students,” she said. “As with any change, it will take time to work out all of the details but we are excited about the possibilities that will allow us to better serve Middle Georgia.”

When consolidation was announced a year ago, some students from both institutions were upset while others were excited about the possibilities. Now that consolidation is official, those who have taken time to follow the process agree that the new institution creates opportunities for themselves and the students who come after them.

“I think the consolidation will result in a bigger, better school,” said Michaela Etter, a junior biology major who had been a Middle Georgia College student. “Expanding into five campuses will give future students more choices in their education.”

Johnathan Jackson, a junior and SGA president at the former Macon State, said Middle Georgia State College will begin to seem “real” to many students now that the consolidation is official. “I think most students are going to be excited once the changes sink in,” he said. “This is an opportunity to create new traditions. Even though I will have moved on by then, I’m looking forward to seeing what the college looks like over the next five to 10 years.”

The Campuses of Middle Georgia State College

Located in Bibb County near Interstate 475, convenient to Macon and Warner Robins, is the Macon Campus of Middle Georgia State College. The 419-acre Macon Campus includes a beautiful lake and has a dozen major buildings, including the new Professional Science & Conference Center and the state-of-the art Education Building. Student housing is available on the Macon Campus, which also is home to the Waddell Barnes Botanical Gardens. The Macon Campus has grown significantly since the late 1990s, when bachelor's degrees were introduced, and continues to expand student life opportunities, including a successful club sports program. Construction of a recreation/wellness center is underway.

Situated near the town center of Cochran, the historic Cochran Campus in Bleckley County is noted for its beauty, characterized by a traditional quad and stately oaks. The campus covers about 182 acres and includes a scenic lake. Buildings include Dillard Hall, Russell Hall, Walker Hall and Whipple Hall, as well as recreation and athletic facilities. Student housing is available on the Cochran Campus, where Middle Georgia State's intercollegiate athletics program is based. The Cochran Campus is home to the Georgia Academy for Math, Engineering and Sciences (GAMES), a program for highly motivated high school students, and a Post-Secondary Readiness Enrichment Program (PREP).

Opened in 2003, the Warner Robins Campus, in Houston County, is located just a half mile from the main gate of Robins Air Force Base. The campus takes up about 72 acres. Two acres are currently devoted to building space, which means there is plenty of room for expected future expansion in what is one of Georgia's fastest growing counties. Buildings include Thomas Hall, the Academic Services Building and Oak Hall. Library services are provided through a cooperative agreement with neighboring Nola Brantley Public Library. Warner Robins Campus instruction supports bachelor's degrees in IT, business and early childhood education, along with several associate's degrees.

The Eastman Campus in Dodge County is devoted almost entirely to aviation programs. It is the only campus in the University System of Georgia that includes flight training and airport management programs. Located adjacent to the Heart of Georgia Regional Airport, the campus takes up 22 acres, including five acres of building space. The primary academic building houses classrooms, teaching labs and computer labs. There are five hangars located in the main building for storage and maintenance of a fleet of airplanes and helicopters used in training and instruction. Eastman is a residential campus and offers bachelor's and associate's degrees and certificates related to aviation.

The Dublin Campus extends the reach of Middle Georgia State College into Laurens County and surrounding areas. The 49-acre campus includes a main library building, which provides classroom space and computer labs. An annex building provides additional classrooms, a nursing lab and a computer lab. Programs on the Dublin Campus lead to associate's degrees, including the associate of science in nursing. The campus has the potential to grow significantly in the next few years.

Contact: sheron.smith@maconstate.edu or tpurser@mgc.edu