North Georgia, Gainesville State to open instructional facility in Cumming

Today, the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia approved a request by North Georgia College & State University and Gainesville State College to develop an instructional site in Forsyth County.

The Regents also approved a new major in Chinese Language and Literature at North Georgia and changes to the master’s-level physical education degree.

North Georgia and Gainesville State plan to jointly open an instructional site on property near Ga. 400 at Pilgrim Mill Road in Cumming by 2012, eventually offering a range of two- and four-year undergraduate programs and graduate programs.

While the Forsyth site won’t be residential, it is expected to alleviate some of the capacity pressure at both schools. With nearly 6,000 students, North Georgia is nearing capacity at its Dahlonega campus and Gainesville State’s capacity has exceeded 100 percent on the Oakwood campus since 2000. In fall 2010, more than 1,400 students from Forsyth County were enrolled at both schools — 654 at North Georgia and 801 at Gainesville State.

“As outlined in the university’s strategic plan, enrollment at North Georgia’s Dahlonega campus is based on the capacity of the local infrastructure and a desire to emphasize a traditional residential college experience there,” said Dr. David Potter, president. “We are very pleased that we are able to move forward with this partnership to develop a satellite campus in Forsyth County to meet the region’s growing needs for higher education opportunities.”

The University System of Georgia has identified the Cumming and Forsyth County area as an “underserved region” of the state for higher education.

“We know that the demand for higher education is in place in Forsyth County. We look forward to the opportunity to serve the students in a location that will be both convenient and will allow us to offer both day and evening classes,” said Dr. Martha T. Nesbitt, president of Gainesville State College.

The project builds on the 27-year partnership between North Georgia and Gainesville State and the presence each has in the region.

Cumming officials have been seeking to expand higher education for years and H. Ford Gravitt, mayor of Cumming since 1970, said the community and businesses welcome the project with open arms.

“A community is not complete without higher education and it’s something very much needed here,” Gravitt said.

Gravitt said boosting higher education in the area also will help recruiting efforts to bring more industries — and more jobs — to Forsyth County.

The Regents also approved a new major in Chinese Language and Literature at North Georgia, reflective of the increased interest in the language since undergraduate Chinese courses were added in 2006. North Georgia began offering a Chinese minor in 2008 and by fall 2010, more than 100 students had enrolled in the courses. The change is effective immediately.

Ryan Cooke of Duluth, who earned a Gilman scholarship to study overseas in China this semester, is considering a dual major in International Affairs and Chinese. The freshman student currently is pursuing a minor in Chinese and took Chinese during the Strategic Language Intensive Program in 2010.” I know I want to travel, and I know want to help people,” Cooke said. “I figured Chinese was the best bet. It’s an up and coming country and a difficult language, but I know I can do it.”

The addition means North Georgia’s Department of Modern Languages now offers both majors and minors in French, Spanish and Chinese and a minor in German.

In addition to Chinese, in recent years North Georgia has added courses in the strategic languages of Arabic, Korean and Russian. This past fall, the first students started in the university’s new Strategic Language Intensive Program, studying either Arabic or Chinese. In the program, students take two semesters of only intensive foreign language courses and have spend one semester in a study abroad experience.

North Georgia recently has been awarded federal funds totaling nearly $2 million to support its foreign language programs, including a $1.2 million federal contract to establish a strategic languages training center on the university’s Dahlonega campus.

The Regents also approved changes to North Georgia’s master’s degree in physical education. Moving from a Master of Education to a Master of Science will provide opportunities for graduates from North Georgia’s exercise science, athletic training and non-certification physical education programs to continue their educational pursuits. The Master of Science also extends the knowledge of physical education for school-based educators seeking an advanced degree. The change is effective May 2011.

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