7 Georgia Colleges Turn `Universities'

Article excerpt

ATLANTA -- Students returning to seven Georgia colleges next

fall will be attending universities instead.

Moving with unusual speed, the University System of Georgia

Board of Regents voted yesterday to change the names of seven

schools, including Augusta College and Savannah State College,

to "state university."

The board had to hold off changing the names of several other

four-year and two-year schools, such as Armstrong State College,

until it's decided what those facilities will be called.

The regents also voted unanimously to begin implementing a plan

to dramatically toughen entrance standards for many of the

system's 34 colleges and universities.

The body usually mulls over major changes for at least a month

before voting, but members decided to add "state university"

immediately to the schools that have already agreed to new

names, so they can use the title in the fall 1996 school year.

After more than a decade of political haggling over upgrading

the status of state colleges, regents were eager to turn them

into universities -- if in name only.

"I endorse them with enthusiasm and relief," said William

Turner, a longtime board member from Columbus.

The only opposition came from Hawkinsville regent John Henry

Anderson, who said turning a dozen state colleges into

universities will detract from the state's research and regional

universities.

"University ought to mean something," Anderson said.

The name changes are part of a plan put together by Chancellor

Stephen R. Portch to stem years of fighting over expanding the

roles of local colleges.

The new "universities" won't get any extra money, but Portch

said the titles would better match what other states call their

schools, and help in the recruiting of faculty and students.

Twelve of the system's 13 four-year colleges will gain "state

university" names because they are eligible to grant master's

degrees. Seven of those were changed yesterday.

Also, three two-year colleges that have vocational classes will

be "community" colleges once they agree on names.

Ironically, one of the schools that may get the authority to

become a "university," the Medical College of Georgia, doesn't

necessarily want the title.

Francis J. Tedesco, president of the Augusta-based Medical

College, said there is no reason to change the school's name.

"Everyone knows who we are," Tedesco said. "You're valuable

because of what you do, not because of a name."

Besides the name changes, Portch's plan calls for expanding

college services in middle Georgia and in Gwinnett County.

Despite hope that the changes will slow calls for expanded

services in other communities, board member Ed Jenkins of Jasper

made clear that won't happen.

He declared the push into Gwinnett County "a good start" but

not enough for a county of 600,000 residents, the largest by far

without a university or college.

He also said the state needs to consider a four-year school in

Northwest Georgia. …