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Merger of GPC, GSU approved

Georgia Perimeter College will soon become part of Georgia State University after a proposal recommending the consolidation of the two schools from Board of Regents Chancellor Hank Huckaby was approved Tuesday morning.

If the merger goes through with the expected perameters the GPC Newton Campus will become part of Georgia’s largest university. The combined enrollment of GSU and GPC in the fall of 2014 was 53,927 students.

Tuition rates, which were raised before 2014-15, are expected to rise once again at GPC, according to a school official.

“Georgia State is a recognized national leader in improving student retention and graduation rates and will be able to apply its best practices,” Huckaby said. “Combining these attributes with Georgia Perimeter College’s leadership in providing access to students across the metro area presents a major opportunity to improve student success.”

GPC staff was made aware of the merger Monday evening after receiving an e-mail from Interim President Rob Watts.

"This would create a new type of institution in the University System of Georgia: A research university that also has an access mission," Watts wrote in the email obtained by The News.

"Should the Board approve this consolidation, we have the opportunity in the year ahead of working with the Chancellor’s Office and our fine colleagues at Georgia State University to create a new type of institution in the USG that continues our important mission, maximizes the opportunities for student success at all levels, values the work of employees, and increases operational efficiencies. This is an exciting prospect."

He described a joint consolidation steering committee, website and working teams that would be formed "to begin working through practical and technical matters."

GSU President Mark Becker will serve as the president of the new institution. The consolidation timeline calls for the approval of the plan by the board of the Southern Association of  Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges by the end of this year, followed by Board of Regents approval of the new institution in early 2016.

An implementation team with representatives from both institutions to work out the many details associated with consolidating the two universities will soon be formed. The implementation team will also be responsible for submitting the required documents for accreditation.

A website will also be made available to faculty, staff and students for any questions that may come up during the transition.

In his email Watts described the mergers going on in the University System of Georgia over the past several years--six over that last two years, including the consolidation of Kennesaw State Univeristy and Southern Polytechnic.

"The primary purpose of the consolidations has been to increase educational opportunities for students: Access to more degree programs, higher-level degree programs, and other student-success activities. Savings achieved from consolidations are reinvested into the academic program," wrote Watts.

GPC reported more than 21,000 students enrolled in the Fall 2014 semester, with the full-time equivalent of about 15,400 students.The two-year access institution is a large feeder school to the GSU four-year research institution. GSU has more than 32,000 students, and celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2013.

The GPC Newton campus opened in June 2007.