ABAC and Bainbridge State College presidents discuss merger
TIFTON, GA (WALB) - Thursday marked the first day of the consolidation process between Abraham Baldwin agricultural college and Bainbridge State College.
It comes after the Board of Regents approved two proposals to merge institutions within the University System of Georgia.
Similar to the consolidation between Darton State College and Albany State University, it is going to be a long process.
Leaders from both colleges acknowledge it's going to take a lot of hard work, but they are excited see what comes of the consolidation.
"Bainbridge State College is thrilled about the consolidation," Bainbridge State College interim president Stuart Rayfield said as she stood next to ABAC President David Bridges.
"There are a lot of unknowns. There are probably more unknowns than knowns at this point," said Bridges.
What is known, is that Bridges will hold the torch as president and ABAC will keep its name.
But Bridges said it won't be an easy process for his staff.
"It means frankly that members of my senior leadership team and other members of the college will have to pick up a lot of extra work," said Bridges.
Both presidents said the consolidation will help and not hurt students in any way.
Right now ABAC has 1,800 undergrad students enrolled in a number of different bachelors degrees. Bainbridge State College only offers one.
Typically students will get their associates there then apply elsewhere.
"This will allow our students to seamlessly go from an associates degree into a bachelors degree program," said Rayfield.
Sophomore students at ABAC expressed excitement about the plans.
"Not only can more students come together but it will add students from different backgrounds, different cultures," said Brandon Farley.
They hope the college will keep its intimate class sizes.
"I like the small classes and I like how well the professors know every student, know your name and know everything that is going on with you," said Amber Smith.
There will be a number of campus and community listening sessions in the coming months.
As far a time line, leaders will spend the next year in the planning stages.
They will then submit a plan to the southern association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges before the plan goes before the board of regents for final approval.
That will most likely happen at the end of December or start of January 2018.
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