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Lyons speaks on the future of Perimeter College
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Georgia State Perimeter College’s Newton Campus celebrated renewal this week in two ways.

One was the annual Georgia Perimeter College Daffodil Festival, and another was with a luncheon attended by the college’s new dean and GSU’s vice provost Peter Lyons Tuesday.

Speaking at Mount Pleasant to a room of officials and supporters, Lyons told them how the merger of GSU and GPC was a positive for both institutions and would bring a rebirth of sorts to both schools.

“In some ways this is a match made in heaven,” Lyons said. “Twenty percent of undergraduate students at Georgia State, at any one time, come from Georgia Perimeter.

“Since 2008, Perimeter College has been through some very turbulent times. The world recession has had an impact on lots of people, to consolidation, to weather all of those slings and arrows; we’re now in a different phase of the college. Since the consolidation of the two institutions, both institutions now have greater consistency, security and stability.”

Lyons said both institutions would help each other: GSU can give Perimeter College students an opportunity for a four-year degree; Perimeter College can give GSU more students, helping to add to the university’s funding. GSU will also be able to help those students by providing the infrastructure the bigger school has in place.

“So when they get to the four-year campus of Georgia State, they will be better prepared, less indebted and move more quickly through their undergraduate education,” Lyons said. “The mission of the college hasn’t changed. The mission of Perimeter College is essentially the transformation of lives through education. It is an access institution to get to the four-year Georgia State.”

Students in the four-year program at Georgia State are graduating at a rate of 54 percent, up from 32 12 years ago, according to Lyons.

Part of the reason of that increase has been the use of new programs and technology.

One of those programs is the Education Advisory Board developed by Electronic Advisement System. The program pulls around 10 million data points, and tracks all the grads GSU students have ever received. It allows GSU advisors to make predictions about who will be successful in their chosen course program.

If the student gets a bad grade in a class relevant to their chosen major, an alert will go off on an advisor’s computer. Lyons said, last year 43,000 student advisor meetings were held due to the program.

“The recommended student-advisor ration for institutions of higher education Is 300 students to 1 advisor,” Lyons said. “The student-advisor ration at Perimeter has been 1,000-to-2. What we tried to do is think of innovative technological ways to deal with that shortage in power, so we’ll be using the advisement system here in the fall.”

That program will help reduce the amount of students who drop out due to lack of funding.

Another technological system GSU uses, which Lyons said will help Perimeter students is Academic Guides, which allows a student to input their interests and choose a career. The program then will tell the student how many jobs are available in that career, what the salary is and what classes to take.

Those assets will soon be available to Perimeter College students, including those at the Newton Campus after both institutions combine their data. That date, what Lyons called “the big bang” will occur March 18.

From that point, the emphasis of the six perimeter campus’s will be to look at the local workforce needs, what are local industries and what do the people in the community say they need.

“I know we have some huge and wonderful employers around, and some small and wonderful employers around,” Lyons said. “Around here with Baxter, health sciences have to be a big deal. We are working on how we best meet the needs of the local community.”