Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Senator Calls Coastal Georgia 'Role Model' for Other Schools; Chambliss Visits Campus to See What Impact New Construction Has Had

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Senator Calls Coastal Georgia 'Role Model' for Other Schools; Chambliss Visits Campus to See What Impact New Construction Has Had

Article excerpt

Byline: Teresa Stepzinski

BRUNSWICK U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss traded the halls of Congress for those of academia Thursday as he visited with students, faculty, staff and senior campus leadership at College of Coastal Georgia.

Chambliss sat in on an American Government class and toured the campus for the first time since it completed nearly $42 million in new construction as part of its transition into a four-year college.

Coastal Georgia is a role model for colleges nationwide, the Republican said, and he praised college President Valerie Hepburn for her leadership guiding its growth and the community for supporting it.

"You can't walk on campus without being impressed with the physical facilities," he told The Times-Union after the tour and meeting with college officials.

The college's enrollment of 3,500 students, Chambliss said, is more proof of its success.

"It's seen about a 40 percent increase in enrollment over the last couple of years. That shows there has been good leadership. Valerie has done a splendid job ... and it also shows a lot of community support for the college," he said.

He said a decade ago, there was a "real void" in the state's university system in Southeast Georgia. Coastal Georgia has filled that gap. The college's success and growth is all the more notable, he said, because it comes amid federal and state funding cuts because of the bad economy.

"I think the College of Coastal Georgia serves as a great role model," Chambliss said.

Earlier, Chambliss talked with students, many of whom he said are worried about funding cuts to federal grants as well as scholarships because of the economy. He then met with Hepburn and senior campus officials in the newly opened Campus Center.

Chambliss discussed the nation's deficit, its ripple effect and lack of bipartisan cooperation.

Unless the deficit is reined in and the economy invigorated via incentives aiding the job-creating private sector, Coastal Georgia graduates and others face a tough road ahead.

"I can't imagine being one of your graduates and trying to find a job right now," Chambliss said. …

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