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Regents put library for new college at top of projects list

ATLANTA - What's a college without a library?

Fortunately, students at the new Georgia Gwinnett College may not have to grapple with that question for long.

The state university system Board of Regents approved a $285 million capital projects request Tuesday that includes $28.3 million to build a library at GGC, which opens next week on the campus of the former Gwinnett University Center in Lawrenceville.

If Gov. Sonny Perdue includes the project in his fiscal 2008 budget and the Legislature approves it, the library could be built in two to three years, depending on how long it takes to sell bonds to finance the work, said Linda Daniels, the system's vice chancellor for facilities.

"We'll fast track them,'' she said of the library and two other high-priority projects approved by the board Tuesday. "These are large projects, but we would expedite them in more of a private sector schedule.''

System Chancellor Erroll Davis said the GGC library and the other two projects - a health sciences building for Kennesaw State University and planning money for a dental school at the Medical College of Georgia - were moved to the top of the capital projects list above other projects that have been on the list longer because they would meet special needs.

He said the Kennesaw State and MCG projects both relate to health sciences, a field the university system is emphasizing because of Georgia's work force needs.

Davis said the new library needs to be in place as soon as possible to meet accreditation requirements for Gwinnett's new stand-alone college.

The three projects are beneficiaries of a new process begun by Davis that stresses fulfilling emerging priorities over funding building projects simply because they were already on a multiyear list.

"Right now, the goal is to get on the list,'' the chancellor said after Tuesday's board vote. "In a system where allocations are driven by priorities, it will be easier to introduce new projects.''

As a way to transition into Davis' new system, the board also requested funds for the four projects that were at the top of the existing list.

Those items include academic buildings at Savannah State University and Fort Valley State University, a professional sciences center at Macon State College and a pharmacy school for the University of Georgia.

For the first time, the board also is asking for more than $2 billion in operating funds for fiscal 2008, which begins next July 1.

The number crept over that figure due to an $80 million increase in formula funding.

Vice Chancellor for Finances Bill Bowes said Perdue has told university system officials he will fully fund the formula next year but has instructed them not to ask for more money in other areas of the budget.

Here are the seven University System of Georgia building projects included in the Board of Regents' capital projects request for fiscal 2008, which starts next July 1:

College Item Amount

Savannah State University academic building $12.7 million

Macon State College professional sciences and convention center $22.2 million

Fort Valley State University academic building $16.8 million

University of Georgia College of Pharmacy $37.2 million

Medical College of Georgia School of Dentistry $5 million*

Kennesaw State University health sciences building $42.5 million

Georgia Gwinnett College Library $28.3 million

*design only

Source: University System of Georgia Board of Regents