By Sharon Omahen
University of Georgia
The University System of Georgia Board of Regents approved the University of Georgia's offering of two undergraduate majors on its Griffin, Ga., campus during its monthly meeting April 20 in Savannah, Ga. at Armstrong Atlantic State University.
Starting in August 2005, UGA will offer the two degrees on its Griffin campus. A biological science major will lead to a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture. An environmental resource science major will lead to a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Sciences.
The new majors will be convenient for south-metro Atlanta students. They're expected to be very popular, said Gerald Arkin, assistant dean of the UGA Griffin campus.
Faculty traditionally teach graduate students
For more than a century, the UGA Griffin campus has housed members of the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences research faculty.
"Griffin campus faculty have traditionally taught undergraduate classes," Arkin said. "Over the years, many Griffin faculty have traveled to Athens to teach. And in some cases (they) provided instruction from Griffin to Athens via distance education. Griffin campus faculty also engage in graduate education for masters and Ph.D. students, many of whom do all or part of their research here in Griffin."
The UGA Griffin campus degrees are designed to work in partnership with area two-year colleges. Students must have 60 hours of transferable college credit before enrolling in the degree programs.
"Partnering with Gordon College in a 'two-plus-two program,' students will take their freshman and sophomore classes on the Gordon campus and their junior and senior classes on the University of Georgia Griffin campus," Arkin said.
"Gordon College's close proximity and course offerings make the partnership an attractive one for students and institutions alike," he said. "I look forward to working with Gordon's President (Larry) Weill and his staff in this new venture."
Weill is equally supportive. "We're glad to have the opportunity to help a sister institution with their program," he said. "This is also an opportunity to keep local students attending school in the area."
Many Gordon students seem to like the idea.
"More than 70 percent of the Gordon students we polled expressed interest in earning an undergraduate degree from UGA if the junior and senior years were offered on the Griffin campus," said Marilyn Johnson, coordinator of Griffin campus academic programs.
Of those students, she said, 49 percent said they'd be interested in these two majors.
Area high school students expressed interest
Johnson polled students at the two largest high schools in Griffin and Spalding County, too. At Spalding High, 71 percent showed an interest in getting a UGA undergraduate degree in Griffin. At Griffin High, 68 percent were interested. Asked specifically about the new degrees, 36 percent of Spalding students and 46 percent of Griffin students found them appealing.
In the past, students pursuing bachelor's degrees in the Griffin-Spalding County area have had to travel to Clayton or Bibb County, Arkin said.
"Offering UGA undergraduate degree programs on the Griffin campus is a major step in making higher education ever more accessible to students," he said.
"The University of Georgia Griffin campus undergraduate degree programs are intended to offer convenience and accessibility," he said, "for students who cannot go to Athens for their degrees because of jobs, family, or other commitments."
The new majors require students to meet UGA's transferring student requirements of at least 60 hours of credit and at least a 2.5 grade point average. Once accepted, students can attend classes in Griffin and still be an official UGA student.
"After they meet all the university standards, our Griffin students will become bona fide, I.D.-carrying UGA students," Johnson said.
UGA will offer the first six upper-level Griffin campus courses this fall from 8 a.m. until noon on weekdays. For more information on the new UGA degrees in Griffin, see the program's Web site www.uga.edu/griffin.
(Sharon Omahen is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)