The Board of Regents today approved a merger between Georgia State University and Georgia Perimeter College. At 53,000 students, the school will be the state’s largest public university. But why are university system officials combining a two-year college like Georgia Perimeter with a four-year school like Georgia State?
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When you hear the words ‘colleges’ and ‘merger’ together, it usually means there are money problems. That is one reason for the merger. Georgia Perimeter’s enrollment fell 11% this year.
“[That’s] a $9.8 million budget hole for the Fiscal Year ’16 budget,” says Shelley Nickel, University System of Georgia Vice Chancellor of Planning and Implementation.
Board of Regents Chancellor Hank Huckaby said the dip is likely due to students dropping out, frustrated they’re not getting the support they need. He says the merger will address that.
“We are very confident, given the track record of Georgia State University, and the way they advise and monitor and support their students, will have a great impact on the students at Georgia Perimeter as well.”
Georgia State’s track record is significant. GSU boosted its graduation rate by 22% in a decade, using a program that tracks students and intervenes if they struggle.
GSU President Mark Becker will lead the merged university, which will be called Georgia State.
Georgia Perimeter’s Interim President Rob Watts was not available for an interview, but issued the following statement:
“GPC has always had a close relationship with Georgia State University. GPC is the main feeder college for transfer students to GSU. GPC students choose GSU for its outstanding academic programs. GPC is excited about the prospect of working with GSU to create a new type of institution within the University System of Georgia: A research university with an access mission. The consolidation will provide GPC students with more pathways for success, in academics and in life.”