Updated: Georgia State University / Georgia Perimeter College To Merge?

This afternoon, the AJC reports that at tomorrow’s meeting of the University System of Georgia Board of Regents, Chancellor Hank Huckabee will recommend the merger of the two schools.

The consolidation would make the new institution the largest within the state’s system of public colleges and universities with almost 54,000 students. The move would also be notable for its joining of Georgia State, a four-year research institution with Georgia Perimeter, a two-year access institution.

The merger will be the sixth consolidation within the past two years of schools within the state’s system of public colleges and universities.

Long-time Georgians will remember Georgia Perimeter was founded as DeKalb College when it opened in Clarkston back in 1964. In 1986, it was absorbed into the University System. In 1997, it was rechristened Georgia Perimeter College, with campuses in Clarkston, Dekalb, Dunwoody, and Newton County. There is also a location in Alpharetta. At one time, the college had a location in Lawrenceville, which closed to make room for Georgia Gwinnett College. Georgia Perimeter attained some notoriety a few years back when it had a financial shortfall.

For its part, Georgia State University has steadily grown its footprint in downtown Atlanta, and is rumored to have an interest in the Turner Field site once the Braves move north to Cobb County.

There are obviously many open questions here, including whether the combined institutions would retain the multiple campii, or whether everything would relocate in downtown Atlanta. Feel free to post your best guesses in the comments.

:: Update ::

From the ever-vigilant Anthony M. Kreis, this email from Georgia State President Mark Becker on the proposed merger:

23 comments

  1. Joash Thomas says:

    As a proud GSU graduating Senior and a Senator in the Student Government Association, I don’t think this expansion should be a priority for us as of right now. We still have quite a ways to go with improving our quality of student performance and graduation rates. I recommend we focus more on those for now instead of looking to expand and add more students. I do however expect the GSU leadership to go ahead with this.

  2. Charlie says:

    Whereas I look at things from a geographic and sports footprint (let’s be honest, who doesn’t?), I was semi-expecting the merger to be between GSU and Tech.

    **ducks**

    • androidguybill says:

      The much-rumored GSU-Georgia Tech merger was exactly that. It would have been somewhat sensible pre-Olympics and pre-HOPE to combine the two to get a comprehensive institution, but now Tech is regarded as one of the best public universities in the southeast and Georgia State is becoming something of a model urban research university. Also, Tech with is exclusive admissions and weed-out academics serves a totally different constituency (for lack of a better term) than Georgia State, which no longer requires standardized test scores for admission and specializes in rehabilitating students who are the first in their families to attend college and/or who attended low performing public high schools (or are JUCO transfers). Where you could merge SPSU with KSU and still keep KSU (actually the result is a stronger university that will eventually have STEM terminal degree and research programs in addition to their existing programs), merging GSU and Georgia Tech would only destroy both schools to create a new one that is nothing like the previous institutions that made it up. It would probably retain Tech’s AAU status (thanks to GSU also being a tier 1 research school) but otherwise would be akin to creating an entirely new school from scratch.

      • MattMD says:

        There was never, ever any serious discussion anywhere about merging GT with GSU.

        GT was a top school long before HOPE was around, incidentally.

        • androidguybill says:

          Top school? Yes. But AAU school and nationally recognized as one of the very best (i.e. consistently top 20 and sometimes top 10) public universities in the country? Nope.

          I never stated that there were ever serious discussions of merging GT with GSU. I only stated that it would have had to happen before GT became one of the most valuable institutions of higher learning in the country (instead of merely another “top school” of many) and while GSU was still mainly a commuter school. I should point out that when this was the case, Georgia was still run by Democrats, so the idea of consolidating universities to save a few million dollars a year is not something that would have occurred to them. Basically, the SPSU-KSU merger would have never happened had Roy Barnes not lost to Sonny Perdue, and neither would the MCG-Armstrong Atlantic merger. But if the current batch of Republicans running this state had been in power in, say, the 1980s, making Tech a comprehensive institution by merging it with GSU – and saving a few pennies and getting rid of a few liberal university administrators in the process – might have actually seemed to be a good idea.

          • Andrew C. Pope says:

            The current batch of Republicans were in power I’m the 80s and 90s… see Nathan Deal and Sonny Perdue as exhibits A & B.

  3. Max Power says:

    Ok if anyone needs any proof that “public” higher education is following the for profit model you need only look at this ridiculous idea. As someone who attended Dekalb College when you could pay for an entire semester for less than $300, I know Deklab/Perimeter is supposed to be a low cost option for folks like me who had to pay their own way. Right now Tuition and Fees for a full-time semester at GPC comes in at $1,839.00 at GSU it’s $5,120.00. How on Earth does this serve the interest of anyone except GSU’s overgrown and out of control administration?

    • Charlie says:

      This will be the first (serious) question I’ll want to see answered. Not sure more than doubling tuition for GPC folks is going to work for anyone. I hope whoever asks it first is prepared with a bunch of follow ups.

    • MattMD says:

      I think there is unfortunately a lot of truth to this. HOPE and the state legislature cutting education funding to the bone have resulted in tuition that could buy you a very decent used car every year for four years.

      I think what would happen is that students who attended the downtown campus would have to pay the full freight tuition and they would charge less for all the lower division classes on the satellite campuses. They might close some of the satellites but the big ones should remain. I’m not trying to bash GSU but they don’t really have any business charging tuition that is in the ballpark of GT and UGA. Since they have the “major research University” I guess they can get away with it despite that fact it has zero impact on a lot of their students.

      I don’t see them merging everything into downtown, there are just too many logistical issues if you ask me. Think about all the lower division sections GSU would have to add. They would need to buy another skyscraper just to teach freshman English.

      • John Konop says:

        The increase in cost of education has been driven by easy government backed student loans with very little controls. The debt level for student loans is now bigger than credit card debt. If we put real controls on student loan debt, at a rational level relative to potential income, job placement by schools and graduation rate, you would see the cost of education move toward getting in line with inflation. Under current model schools get money guaranteed by tax payers, and are held to very low performance standards. At the end we will all pay when the bill is due and no money to pay for it. Also we are paying for it now via consumer spending with graduates having house payment size loan debt payments, hurting consumption.

        • Max Power says:

          Yes and no, states have reduced per pupil expenditures on higher education so schools have in turn relied more on federal financial aid. And that’s where the insidious cycle begins, to get more financial aid you have to attract more students, you attract more students by building ridiculous things like huge student centers that in turn requires more money. When I went to Dekalb College and then KSU they were a quiet little affordable schools. Important to someone like me who had to work full time. Now the KSU campus is unrecognizable full over too large buildings that you don’t need to be an architect to know cost a lot of money and the tuition is much much higher even adjusted for inflation.

          • John Konop says:

            FYI, you should read this! It is very clear on a macro what has happened.

            ………For years, politicians and pundits have held forth about the high cost of higher education. Whether the issue du jour is rising tuition prices, falling returns on our educational investment, or the ballooning student debt bubble, the message has generally been the same: College is only getting harder to afford, even as it becomes more necessary.

            Recently, CourseSmart, an e-textbook provider, created an infographic that lays out in simple terms the details of the college tuition explosion — and they’re truly frightening. Over the last 30 years, tuition has increased 1,120 percent; by comparison, even the “skyrocketing” cost of health care only rose 600 percent, and housing costs have gone up a paltry 375 percent.

            Not surprisingly, college loan debt has grown explosively too, outstripping car loans and credit cards as the largest sources of personal debt. Given the much-trumpeted 2011 announcement that Americans owed more than $1 trillion in student loans, this shouldn’t be all that surprising. Nor, for that matter, should it be shocking that almost one in five families is currently paying off student loans.

            http://www.dailyfinance.com/on/college-costs-tuition-rising-student-debt-infographic/

            • Max Power says:

              You’re preaching to the choir, I’m still paying off law school loans while putting two kids through college. But being a lefty I believe every child able should be allowed 4 years of cost free higher education in Georgia it would be expensive but if Denmark can do it so can we.

        • MattMD says:

          I agree with what you are saying to a large extent and this is what is happening nationwide. However, you cannot ignore the effects that HOPE and the ever-dwindling state support for post-secondary education has had on tuition’s for Georgia schools (and especially it seems with the high-demand institutions).

  4. btfried says:

    What!? Merging GPC with Atlanta Metropolitan College would make more sense. I don’t understand how a two year college and a research university are supposed to be combined. The two schools have very different missions and goals. At least this way, GSU can charge athletic fees to all of the GPC students and can afford Turner Field.

    • androidguybill says:

      “I don’t understand how a two year college and a research university are supposed to be combined.”

      My guess is that they won’t be. Instead, as GPC is bleeding money thanks to years of mismanagement, they are getting rid of it. The GPC campuses will become GSU branch campuses. That will make GSU very similar to the University of South Florida, which has a bunch of branch and satellite campuses also (except in central Florida, not south Florida, but alas the name UCF was already taken by the school in Orlando. But hey, if the Big 10 can have 12 members and the Big 12 can have 10 members … nevermind).

      It is not a bad idea, as the result will be a lot more kids’ getting bachelor’s degrees from a university with a good reputation. The only problem is that it will eliminate the state’s largest junior college, and will leave a lot of east Atlanta metro kids (DeKalb etc.) without such an option.

  5. kgizzle says:

    This merger doesn’t make any sense. How much money can you really save when you have that many students? You still need staff and faculty to serve them all. Additionally, GPC campuses are in areas where there are few higher education options. Georgia still needs two-year options for students, merging these institutions is a huge mistake.

    • androidguybill says:

      GPC became a target because its years of (corrupt) mismanagement has the college losing money. And while Georgia needs 2 year options, it needs more bachelor’s degrees also. My guess is that this move will address the GPC management problems (very hard to fix because few of the best academic managers want to work for a community college, especially one that big and complex) and increase the number of people with competitive bachelor’s degrees in the metro area, and that the state will handle the huge void created by the lack of junior colleges later.

  6. Will Durant says:

    I going to have to go all Biblical on this one.

    “Be ye not unequally yoked together…”

    This move makes even less common sense than the MCG/Augusta State merger.

    • androidguybill says:

      Similar to KSU/SPSU, the MCG/Augusta State merger was done to create a comprehensive research institution down the line. By themselves, MCG was only going to be a medical/allied health specialty school and Augusta State a tiny liberal arts college. Together, they could become a regional university akin to, say, East Carolina or UAB.

  7. Unlimited student loans = unlimited tuition cost.

    Just like unlimited mortgages = unlimited housing cost.

    There should be cost pressure on tuition, not just funding pressure.

    Currently, all cost shorties are passed on to student loans. Perhaps there should be a cap on % of student loan funded tuition.

  8. Will Durant says:

    No matter how you slice it. Georgia and its Regents are consistently making it more difficult for low and mid-income students to obtain a degree.

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