Georgia regents adopt guidelines to merge state colleges

 ATLANTA -- The board governing the state’s 35 public colleges and universities adopted six principles Tuesday for how it will decide which schools to merge.

Chancellor Hank Huckaby announced in September he was looking to consolidate schools. He didn’t say how many or which ones, instead appointing a committee to come up with ideas.

The Board of Regents accepted the committee’s recommendation that consideration be based equally on each of the principles. They include finding merger candidates that will end duplication, streamline administrative costs and improve efficiency. At the same time, the principles would seek consolidations that increase student opportunities, improve their access to college and enhance regional, economic development.

However, not included was maintaining a school’s cultural tradition, a feature stressed many supporters of historically black colleges and universities.

Alumni from the state’s three, public, historically black colleges had planned to hold a demonstration at the regents’ meeting but postponed it, according to the Albany Herald, out of concerns it might backfire. They fear Savannah State, Albany State and Fort Valley State may be candidates for merger because they were established close to predominately white colleges during the segregation era, but Huckaby has said the list would be developed from careful analysis.

“It’s too early to get down in the weeds of data analysis yet,” said Steve Wrigley, executive vice chancellor for administration.

He said the analysis would take several months.

The actual selection of which schools get merged is likely to be controversial.

“The easy part has been done,” said regents chairman Ben Tarbutton.

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