Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

College Has Plans to Grow; but Coastal Georgia's Big Dreams Need Regent OKs

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

College Has Plans to Grow; but Coastal Georgia's Big Dreams Need Regent OKs

Article excerpt

Byline: TERRY DICKSON

BRUNSWICK - Jessica Mills, a recent graduate of Brantley County High School, is emblematic of coming changes at the College of Coastal Georgia. Mills said she plans to fulfill a lifelong dream of becoming a teacher. During the college's fall convocation on Monday, Mills was announced as the winner of a regents scholarship that will cover her education for four years.

And she can use it without leaving town.

The announcement was among many as the former Coastal Georgia Community College makes the transition from a two-year to a four-year institution.

The direction was laid out by interim President Valerie Hepburn, who used the state of the college address to lay out the future state of the school.

With it came a promise to Brunswick.

"We plan to open this campus up and make it a true community resource," she said. "I want to warn you, the hedges are coming down."

But there are challenges in expanding the faculty and campus at the same time the University System of Georgia is planning for budget cuts of at least 5 percent and possibly 10 percent. That all hangs on whether Gov. Sonny Perdue can talk legislators into forgoing state-funded property tax relief, Hepburn said.

"It's fair to say we haven't seen the worst of the downturn," she said.

To meet the constraints, the college will eliminate vacant non-academic positions and reduce costs through efficient scheduling and operations, she said.

"Class sizes may get a little bigger," Hepburn said. "We may be using less part-time faculty."

And students will likely see higher fees; one that is certain is increased parking fees.

At the same time, however, there will be 11 new faculty positions, "if resources hold," to ensure the campus will begin offering new bachelor's degrees in nursing, business administration and in early childhood, middle grades and special education.

All of that, however, depends on meeting some time lines. …

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