Friday, December 5, 2008

TCSG State Board Reaffirms Technical College Merger Plan

The state board of the Technical College System of Georgia voted today to reaffirm the system's plan to will merge the administrations of 13 of the state's 33 state technical colleges.

The 13 colleges will become six colleges on July 1, 2009.

"The administrative mergers mean more efficient use of college resources, greater cost-effectiveness in how we administer the campuses, and improved opportunities for our first priority, which is always our students," said TCSG Board Chairman Carl Swearingen. "This transformation is vitally important if we are to build the strong and talented workforce that Georgia needs to compete in the 21st Century global economy."

The board's vote follows a decision made during their November meeting to examine the merger concerns that were raised by a state legislator.

The following technical colleges will be merged under the plan:

- Appalachian Tech, Chattahoochee Tech and North Metro Tech
- Coosa Valley Tech and Northwestern Tech
- East Central Tech and Valdosta Tech
- Flint River Tech and Griffin Tech
- Southeastern Tech and Swainsboro Tech
- West Central Tech and West Georgia Tech

New names for the merged colleges are still to be determined by the combined colleges' boards of directors.

The TCSG state board also voted today to approve Commissioner Ron Jackson's selections for the leadership of three of the merged colleges.

Dr. Bobby Arnold, who is currently the president of Griffin Technical College, will be the president-designee for the combined Griffin and Flint River technical colleges. James Wheeless, currently the vice president for student affairs at Flint River Tech, was named interim president of Flint River effective January 1, 2009; he will become the campus provost in July.

Dr. Cathy Mitchell, the president of Southeastern Technical College, is the president-designee for the combined Southeastern and Swainsboro technical colleges. Larry Calhoun, president of Swainsboro Tech, will be the provost over the Swainsboro campus.

Dr. Skip Sullivan, the president of West Central Tech, will become the president-designee for the combined West Central and West Georgia technical colleges. Perrin Alford, the current interim president at West Georgia, will become the campus provost.

"Presidents Arnold, Mitchell and Sullivan are strong leaders and dedicated educators who will work closely with their provosts and guide their respective colleges through the merger process. Each is fully committed to ensuring absolute success on every campus and in every community," said Jackson.

The TCSG state board has already approved president-designees for two other mergers: Dr. Sanford Chandler over Appalachian, Chattahoochee and North Metro, and Dr. Craig McDaniel over Coosa Valley and Northwestern.

A president-designee has yet to be named for the East Central and Valdosta merger.
In other business, the state board voted to raise the technical colleges' tuition cap from 12 hours to 15 hours. Currently, full-time technical college students pay an average of $432 for 12 credit hours; they are not charged for additional credit hours.

Now, those taking between 13 and 15 credit hours will see the cost rise by as much as $108.
Two-thirds of Georgia's technical college students are taking 12 credit hours or less and will be unaffected by the increase. Of the remaining third, many will see the extra cost covered by the HOPE grant.

Less than 10% of the TCSG's quarterly enrollment, or approximately 9,000 students, will incur the additional out-of-pocket expense.

The increase will take effect beginning with the Winter Quarter 2009. It is expected to generate an extra $10 million annually for the technical college system.

Despite the credit hour increase for some students, the cost of a Georgia technical college education remains among the lowest in the nation, and most of those costs are paid for under the Georgia HOPE and federal Pell grants.
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