“That has yet to be determined,” says GPC interim president Rob Watts.
By: Farhin Lilywala
Effective early 2016, GPC Jaguars and Georgia State University (GSU) Panthers will merge into one university.
The Board of Regents, a unified governing body for public higher education, made the official announcement at their last meeting on Jan. 6 at 9:30 a.m.
GSU will become the largest university in the University System of Georgia in population with more than 50,000 students, overtaking the University of Georgia.
GPC’s interim president Rob Watts said he and President Mark Becker of GSU will appoint a committee to lead the consolidation process.
“We will appoint a joint consolidation steering committee consisting of faculty, staff, students and community representatives within the next two weeks,” Watts said.
The committee will analyze all campuses of GSU and GPC and determine the best use for each campus, according to Watts. Some campuses may be changed; some campuses will look exactly the same.
There are also other concerns, specifically from students.
“After having a few days to listen to my fellow Georgia State students’ opinions it doesn’t seem as though a majority of students are in favor of the merger at all,” said Lanier Henson, GSU Student Government Association (SGA) President.
According to Henson, these concerns range from wanting a clear division in which institution they receive their degrees from to upholding GSU’s current admission standards.
“I feel like all the options of attending community colleges are slowly dwindling away and there’s not going to be as much access to more affordable education, and that certainly concerns me,” GSU psychology major Anna Yang said.
Both Henson and Sri Rajasek- aran, GPC Newton SGA President, agree with Yang that this merger should allow students to continue receiving an affordable education.
“It is hard to tell how exactly it is going to affect GPC until the fine details like how the tuition is going to change, and whether any campuses will be closed, and such are given,” said Rajasekaran. “But, I think as long as the tuition remains considerably low; no restrictions are placed on the transfer opportunities; and no big changes are made to the degree programs – our students will be fine.”
Watts confirms that GPC’s foundation of affordable education will not be uprooted with this merger.
“I would not anticipate any change in that,” he said. “There will continue to be a lower tuition rate for Associate’s degree students.”
This merger could mean a number of new opportunities and resources for GSU and GPC students. However, the consolidation process will not be an easy feat to overcome, according to Henson.
Watts is confident that both institutions will excel as one university and ensures that students will be involved in the consolidation process.
“They will be on working committees to implement the consolidation,” Watts said. “Students will have full access to consolidation information. There will be a joint GPC and GSU consolidation website also. Ultimately, this is very good for students and gives them new and better ways to get their Bachelor’s degrees.”