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
"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. …