Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Atlanta Universities Score Big at Olympics

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Atlanta Universities Score Big at Olympics

Article excerpt

ATLANTA -- This fall, Georgia State University will have student housing for the first time in its history -- spacious apartments for 2,000 students.

Georgia Institute of Technology will have a state-of-the-art swimming arena, a renovated coliseum for its basketball team and seven new residence houses.

Atlanta University Center, the largest consortium of historically black universities in the nation, will have two new stadiums, a prettier campus and a stronger connection to each other and the city around them.

The source of all this largess? The Centennial Olympic Games, which get under way July 19. A $111 million investment by the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games has leveraged an investment topping $300 million in Atlanta's colleges and universities.

At a time when most colleges are tightening their belts, the spending is remarkable. But perhaps even more significant for the colleges in the long run will be the international exposure and free publicity they will garner if all goes well at the Games. Georgia Tech will be home to Olympic Village and the popular swimming and diving events, Georgia State will host badminton and the black colleges will be the site of some basketball and hockey competitions.

"In the overall national scramble that is higher education today, those schools will get a substantial boost," said David Merkowitz, a spokesman for the American Council on Education. "They can probably capitalize on it in alumni donations and admissions."

Georgia Tech believes it is already seeing an Olympic-related boost in student interest. The 13,000-student university helped win the Olympics for Atlanta with a high-tech, multimedia presentation of what the facilities might look like. And its alumni and faculty have been deeply involved in planning and designing the Olympic facilities, a fact widely publicized throughout Georgia.

The campus in is the home stretch of $160 million in Olympics- related construction, one-quarter funded by the ACOG and the rest through state bonds that will be paid off with student fees.

"We took a 15- or 20-year master plan for this university and were able to implement 85 percent of it in three to five years," said Communications Director Robert Harty. …

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