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USG chief: Experiment is working

Photo by dsag

Photo by dsag

LAWRENCEVILLE -- The "grand experiment" known as Georgia Gwinnett College is working, University System of Georgia Chancellor Erroll B. Davis said Friday.

"This is the newest four-year college in the United States," Davis said during a visit to the Lawrenceville campus. "We had the opportunity to put into this institution everything we know about running institutions, about educating students, about managing finances and processes. ... People come here because they want to come here, and we're able to attract people from far-flung places, from very high prestige places, because it is an experiment and it is working and it is successful and it is growing."

Davis said he attributes the college's success to the leadership of GGC President Daniel J. Kaufman. The chancellor said the location of the college, along with the quality and intimacy of its programs, will continue to attract students. Georgia Gwinnett College, which opened in 2006, is projected to have more than 5,000 students on campus this fall.

"This institution is in exactly the sweet spot of where we want students to go," Davis said. "It costs far less to place a student on this campus than it does on the campus of UGA, for example. And yet, for less cost, we can provide a quality and intimate education that should be attractive to more and more people."

In regards to proposed budget cuts publicized earlier this year -- which at Georgia Gwinnett College would have included capping student enrollment at 3,000 for the fall -- Davis said they were

"Draconian in size and nature under an assumption of no tuition increases."

"One, cuts of that size did not materialize in the budget," Davis said, "and two, we have the flexibility to make some decisions about tuition, and the Board (of Regents) will make those decisions at its May meeting."

Davis said he would not comment on the possibility of a tuition increase, but he said the system will "need some revenue enhancements" in the upcoming fiscal year.

"What we have to do is take the budget that was passed (Thursday), deconstruct it, see how it impacts us, determine what gaps there are ... and there will be (gaps) -- and then determine how we will address those gaps through cost reductions or through revenue enhancements:" Davis said, "or, more probably, a combination of the two of those.

"With some hard work and some diligence, (fiscal year 2011) should be manageable for us," Davis added.

Davis noted that he is pleased legislators included need-based aid in the budget.

"One of our strategic thrusts is that is to get more need based aid in the system, and this is a step in the right direction," he said. "We believe very strongly that an educated citizenry is the backbone of a vibrant democracy, and we also believe, accordingly, that education is more than a personal benefit to an individual. It is a benefit to society, and because of that, society should be willing to pay for that education to all who are qualified."