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 was 10,154 students in the 2005 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 more than 10,200. West Georgia offers twelve undergraduate degrees: the Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Fine Arts, Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Science in Chemistry, Bachelor of Science in Education, Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Bachelor of Business Administration, Bachelor of Music, Bachelor of Science in Recreation, Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science, and Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies with majors in 60 different fields.
In 1967, the Board of Regents authorized the initiation of a graduate program at the master's level. The following ten masters degrees are offered in 33 areas of study: Master of Arts, Master of Arts in Teaching, Master of Business Administration, Master of Education, Master of Music, Master of Science in Nursing, Master of Professional Accounting, Master of Public Administration, Master of Science, and Master of Science in Rural and Small Town Planning. Also offered is the Specialist in Education degree in 12 areas of study and the Doctor of Education in School Improvement.
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. With an enrollment of more than 300, the Newnan Center provides core curriculum for residents in the Newnan/Coweta County area. (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 is on the cusp of significant growth that is being accommodated by the addition of four major construction projects: two phases of residential housing, a new campus center (student recreational facility), and the Coliseum. When all projects are complete, the gross asset value of the University's facilities will be approximately $200 million. The University has grown to nearly 270 acres through the addition of the City of Carrollton's gift of 246 acres and the purchase of 23 acres by the West Georgia Foundation, Inc.
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.