The University of West Georgia is a coeducational, residential, liberal arts institution located in Carrollton. A state university in the University System of Georgia, it enrolls students from most counties in Georgia as well as from other states and several foreign countries. Enrollment at West Georgia reached an all-time high with 12,206 students in the 2014 fall semester.
The University is situated on the western side of Carrollton, the county seat of Carroll County and one of Georgia's fastest growing industrial areas. Carrollton, an hour's drive from Atlanta, serves a regional population of more than 100,000 as a center for retail shopping, medical and educational services, entertainment and recreational activities, and financial services.
The University of West Georgia originated in 1906, the date of the founding of the Fourth District Agricultural and Mechanical School, one of twelve such institutions established by the State of Georgia between 1906 and 1917. Twenty-five years later, Carrollton's A&M School became West Georgia College, a junior college established by an act of the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia. Dr. Irvine S. Ingram, who had been principal of the A&M School, was named the institution's first president.
In 1939, the College was authorized by the Board of Regents to add a three-year program in elementary education. In 1957, the institution was authorized to confer the B.S. degree in education, making it a four-year senior college unit of the University System of Georgia. Two years later, West Georgia College added the Bachelor of Arts degree in the fields of English, history, and mathematics.
During the following years, West Georgia College became one of the fastest growing institutions of higher learning in the South. From an enrollment of 576 in 1957, the institution's student body now numbers over 12,000.
In 1967, the Board of Regents authorized the initiation of a graduate program at the master's level.
In 1983, the Board of Regents approved the External Degree Program as a cooperative effort between Dalton College and West Georgia. Since its inception, close to 400 degrees have been conferred through the center.
The Board of Regents in 1988 approved opening the Newnan Center, a joint effort involving the Newnan-Coweta Chamber of Commerce and other business, civic and educational leaders in the area. In 2013, the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia voted to approve the acquisition of the real property at 80 W. Jackson Street, the site of the historic Newnan Hospital facility. UWG began serving students from this new site in summer 2015. With an enrollment of more than 500, the Newnan Center will provide core curriculum, as well as full bachelor and masters programs, and dual enrollment for high school students. (See Public Services chapter.)
In June, 1996, the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia awarded the institution university status and officially changed the name of West Georgia College to the State University of West Georgia, and in 2005 it became the University of West Georgia. The University has seen significant growth in recent years. Two phases of residential housing provide variety to on-campus students including the apartment-style Center Pointe Suites, the Oaks and the East Village Dining Hall, and Bowdon Hall. The Campus Center (student recreational facility), University Bookstore and the Visual Arts Building provide more access to students, while the Coliseum and the Athletic Operations Building offer space for UWG's expanding Athletics program. The gross asset value of the University's facilities is proximately $300 million. The University has grown to nearly 645 acres.
Presidents of the University
Dr. Irvine Sullivan Ingram served as West Georgia College's first president from 1933 to June 30, 1960, the longest presidential tenure in the history of the University System of Georgia. He was succeeded by Dr. William Hamilton Row, who served from July 1, 1960, until his death on March 15, 1961. At that time, Dr. Ingram was named acting president. He served in that capacity until Dr. James Emory Boyd was appointed president on August 16, 1961.
After a decade of service to West Georgia College as president, Dr. Boyd retired on March 30, 1971, to become vice-chancellor for academic development of the University System of Georgia. Vice-President George Walker served as acting president from April 1 to August 15, 1971. On August 16, Dr. Ward B. Pafford became the institution's fourth president. Dr. Pafford announced his resignation, effective June 30, 1975, in the fall of 1974. Dr. Maurice K. Townsend, vice president for academic affairs at Indiana State University, was named West Georgia's new president, effective July 1, 1975. Dr. Townsend served as the College's Chief Executive Officer until his death on May 16, 1993. Dr. Bruce W. Lyon, Vice President and Dean of Student Services, was named Acting President, effective June 1, 1993. The University System of Georgia, following an extensive national search, named Dr. Beheruz N. Sethna to head West Georgia, effective August, 1994. When the Board of Regents officially changed the name of the institution to the University of West Georgia in June, 1996, Dr. Sethna became the first president of the University under the new name.
Dr. Sethna retired as UWG president on June 30, 2013, after 19 years of service. The University System of Georgia performed a complete national search and named Dr. Kyle Marrero as the institution's seventh president, effective July 1, 2013.