Big changes are coming for Georgia Gwinnett College in the 2012-2013 academic year, thanks to key funding provided by the University System of Georgia (USG) and the State of Georgia.
“The new fiscal year is a critical one for the continued, successful growth of the college,” said GGC President Daniel J. Kaufman. “We are deeply appreciative that Governor Nathan Deal, our state legislators, the USG Board of Regents, and Chancellor Hank Huckaby have ensured that GGC will receive the funding it needs to serve our expanding enrollment and to help us prepare for an even bigger future.”
Still in an aggressive growth mode, the college requested $25.2 million in funding for an Allied Health and Science building. Without this new academic building, the college’s enrollment growth would have stalled, restricted by its facilities.
“This building will serve the entire student body. It will contain laboratories for health science and information technology courses, as well as social science courses such as psychology,” said Dr. Lois Richardson, acting vice president of Academic and Student Affairs. “It also will include classrooms, collaborative spaces and much-needed faculty offices, as well.”
Now that the building is funded, GGC can begin designing its allied health programs, which will include a nursing program already approved by the Board of Regents. The nursing program is needed to provide a source of trained nurses for the rapidly growing health care needs of the Gwinnett region and the entire state of Georgia. The college already has begun a search for the dean of the School of Health Sciences.
With a current enrollment of a little more than 8,000, Georgia Gwinnett expects a fall 2012 enrollment of about 9,500. A special line item in the state budget provided the college with $3.2 million for hiring new faculty to accommodate the additional 1,500 students.
“Our access mission and location in Gwinnett position GGC to absorb a significant percentage of the USG’s projected system-wide increase of 100,000 additional students by the year 2020,” Kaufman said. “Georgia Gwinnett must continue growing dramatically for the next several years to meet that goal and ensure that the state has the educated and skilled workforce it needs for the future.”
Another key to meeting the state’s future workforce needs involves improving college student success, which includes factors such as retention and graduation rates. GGC is one of four institutions in Georgia selected to pilot initiatives that, if successful, may be used across the state to help students perform better in college.
While not part of the state budget, a $150,000 grant from the Complete College Georgia initiative is supporting two GGC pilot projects designed to mainstream students needing pre-college English and mathematics courses quickly into college-level courses.
Preliminary results are very positive, with both the English and mathematics pilot initiatives roughly doubling the student pass rate, compared to more conventional approaches.
Nationwide, students who take pre-college courses before college-level courses have a high incidence of failure to graduate. However, if they are moved quickly into college-level courses, they have a greater chance of completing college.
“In our pilot programs, students take pre-college courses at the same time they take their first college-level course in the same subject,” said Richardson. “Our pilot programs have reached pass rates of 85-90 percent, compared to roughly half that of students who take the courses one at a time. If this approach continues to be successful, it could help many students across Georgia bridge the gap between their skill level and what is required to succeed in college.”