USG requests $9.1 million for college

LAWRENCEVILLE -- The governing board of the University System of Georgia has recommended that $9.1 million be included in an upcoming state budget for a new building and infrastructure improvements at Georgia Gwinnett College.

The request is part of the Board of Regents' $2.1 billion budget and capital request to the Governor's Office of Planning and Budget for the fiscal year that begins in July 2011, according to a news release. It includes $7.1 million for campus-wide infrastructure improvements at the Lawrenceville college, as well as $2 million for the design of the new Allied Health and Science Building.

"This money is vital to the growth of Georgia Gwinnett College," GGC President Daniel J. Kaufman said Wednesday. "Because of the state's current budget problems, we already are a year behind on the Allied Health and Science Building, but we believe we can catch up once the building gets started if we can secure the $28 million in general obligation bonds for the construction within the next year."

Stas Preczewski, vice president for academic and student affairs, said the Allied Health and Science Building is imperative to the college's continued growth. It will house the college's nursing program -- a degree program slated to begin in 2012 -- and other science programs, including biology, radiology technology, chemistry and physics.

"As all are aware, Georgia is currently experiencing a nursing shortage that is expected to reach devastating proportions over the next decade, so it is essential that GGC start training nurses as soon as possible," Preczewski said.

The $7.1 million in infrastructure money will be used for necessary road, sewer and electrical improvements, the news release states.

The campus has grown considerably with new student housing, a new library and a new student center opening this year. A fitness center and two other buildings, as well as a parking deck, has been added to the college's campus over the past five years.

No new infrastructure improvements have been made since the prelude to Georgia Gwinnett College -- the Georgia University Center -- was built more than 20 years ago, the news release states.

"We appreciate the board's support of GGC," Kaufman said. "Our campus is experiencing rapid growth, and the facility needs are unprecedented. To our knowledge, no Georgia college has ever experienced what amounts to a doubling in size every year. These students deserve excellent facilities for classrooms and laboratories."

GGC expects to have more than 5,500 students on campus this fall -- up from the 3,200 who were enrolled last fall. More than 400 students will be living on campus this year for the first time since the college opened in 2006.