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GPC, GSU merger approved

UPDATE: 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.

According to Charles Sutlive, Vice Chancellor for Communications of the University System of Georgia, many decisions about the merger will be finalized by a campus consolidation committee, consisting of faculty, staff and students from both institutions.

Included in those decisions will be "assessing the needs and infrastructure of the new consolidated institution," Sutlive said.

It is predicted by school officials that the Newton campus will remain open after the consolidation.

As far as staff, faculty from the GPC will be involved in the implementation committee.

For those enrolling at GPC and planning to attend the Newton campus, it will continue to admit students into its associate's and certificate programs. GSU will continue to admit students into its bachelor's, master's and doctoral programs.

Georgia Perimeter students looking to enroll in bachelor's, master's and doctoral programs offered at the downtown campus will have to apply and be admitted to these programs, same as GSU students, according to Sutlive.

Tuition, which was raised at GPC before the 2014-15 school year, will be assessed by the campus implementation committee, but may be raised once again.

"The Board sets tuition and fees and will continue to do so for the newly consolidated institution," Sutlive said. "The campus implementation team may recommend a change from the current structure to the Board once the consolidation has been implemented



(Jan. 5, 9:25 p.m.) Georgia Perimeter College employees received notice Monday evening of a merger between Georgia Perimeter College and Georgia State University, to be proposed the next morning.

Chancellor Hank Huckaby will present a proposal to merge GPC and GSU at the meeting of the Board of Regents on Tuesday morning, According to the email from GPC 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.

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.”

Watts wrote in the email, "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."

Watts described the mergers going on in the University System of Georgia in 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.

GPC has five campuses across the metro Atlanta area. The GPC Newton campus opened in June 2007.

Check back for more on this developing story.