University System of GA Chancellor recommends merger for Armstrong, Georgia Southern

UPDATE: Steve Wrigley, Chancellor for the University System of Georgia intention is to suggest consolidating Armstrong State and Georgia Southern (GSU) to the Board of Regents, according to a release on the University System’s site.

The release goes on to say that, if approved the new institution would be named Georgia Southern University and will be led by President Jaimie Hebert.

The consolidation of the schools is “expected to enable the University System to better serve students, broaden or redesign academic programs offered in the coastal and south Georgia regions and reinvest savings into the academics to improve student success”.

“Creating the new Georgia Southern University will combine the best of both institutions, which are just an hour apart and ultimately serving many of the same students,” said Wrigley. “Consolidating Armstrong and Georgia Southern will create one institution with expanded regional presence, tailored degree programs for the coastal region and positioned to significantly enhance the University System’s economic impact for the area.”

GSU and Armstrong are the number one transfer choice and according to the release top picks for students seeking higher education from Bryan, Chatham, Effingham and Liberty counties.

Initial opportunities from consolidating Georgia Southern and Armstrong include:

• Creates an institution of more than 27,000 students, making it the fourth largest public university in Georgia.

• Creates a more comprehensive university that serves the needs of the region with a range of degree programs for high-demand careers, such as engineering and health care.

• Expands upon Armstrong’s expertise as the University System’s largest producer of undergraduate health professionals.

• Creates opportunities for raising graduation rates for students with Georgia Southern’s best practices.

• Builds on Armstrong’s nationally recognized leadership in supporting student veterans and active-duty military, which will enable the new institution to reach a much larger student population.

• Reinvests savings from administrative efficiencies into programs to support student success.

• Ensures the new Georgia Southern University’s Savannah campus offerings effectively balance with and complement those provided by Savannah State University.

Wrigley also plans to suggest the unification of Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College and Bainbridge State College.

For the full release, click here.

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An announcement is expected Friday from the Georgia Board of Regents about a proposed merger between Georgia Southern University in Statesboro and Armstrong State University in Savannah.

State Sen. Lester Jackson, of Savannah, serves on the state senate higher education committee and told News 3 cost savings is one reason for the proposal.

Faculty and Staff at ASU have been wondering about the school’s future after president Linda Bleicken retired at the end of 2016, but a search for her replacement wasn’t launched.

Campus consolidations have been a priority of the University System of Georgia since 2011. That’s when initiatives were launched to strengthen the system.

Stay with News 3 for updates.

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