Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Douglas County residents will have the opportunity to attend college in Douglasville this fall when two institutions of the University System of Georgia begin offering classes there. Working with officials from the City of Douglasville and Douglas County, the University of West Georgia and Georgia Highlands College are finalizing plans to open in the fall.
UWG will provide junior- and senior-level courses leading to selected baccalaureate degrees as well as graduate degree work offered through the College of Education and the Richards College of Business. GHC, a two-year access institution, will offer a variety of core curriculum courses toward an associate’s degree.
Regent Kenneth R. Bernard, Jr., who serves on the Board of Regents for the 13th Congressional District, praised the vision and cooperation of all involved in bringing the project to fruition. He said, “An extraordinary group of people made this happen. My thanks goes to Donald Remillard, superintendent of Douglas County Schools, who initiated the concept of bringing access to higher education to the city and county. I’d also like to recognize officials from the Douglas County Board of Commissioners, the City of Douglasville, the City Council and of course, the presidents of the two institutions, Dr. Randy Pierce of Georgia Highlands College and Dr. Beheruz Sethna of the University of West Georgia.”
The partnership was announced at a Douglasville City Council meeting, and will expand educational opportunities to one of the fastest-growing areas of the greater Atlanta metropolitan area. A capacity study commissioned several years ago by the USG identified Douglas County as underserved educationally. A recent report issued by the Atlanta Regional Commission projected that the county would increase by more than 137 percent between 2000 and 2010. Population was projected to reach 126,462 by 2010, but Douglas surpassed that figure by the end of 2008.
Rep. Bill Hembree (R-Winston), who is chairman of the higher education committee in the Georgia General Assembly, also applauded the move. He said, “As chairman of the House higher education committee and a resident of Douglas County, I feel this opportunity gives our residents a chance to attend an institution of higher education locally and to benefit from all that the partnership between Georgia Highlands and West Georgia will bring to our community. This is a step in the right direction for Douglasville/Douglas County, and I support every effort in this location.”
Negotiations are underway for a facility that will accommodate up to 1,500 students in the near future, with room to expand as enrollment grows. Georgia Highlands will be the lead institution managing the site.
Dr. Randy Pierce, president of GHC, said, “The city and county officials in Douglas County have welcomed us generously, and could not have been more responsive to all our questions. They have extended their help in every way possible. Working together, we know we can positively impact the local economy and quality of life in Douglas.”
Dr. Thomas J. Hynes, provost and vice president of academic affairs at UWG, said, “The University of West Georgia joins with Georgia Highlands College in this collaborative venture, and we are delighted to extend to Douglasville and Douglas County these educational opportunities. Our community partners clearly believe in the view of higher education for its citizens as an investment in the community and its citizens. All of us are pleased to participate in ways that make that view a reality.”