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for Four USG Institutions

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Regents Approve ‘State College’ Status
for Four USG Institutions

May 10, 2011

Four of the University System of Georgia’s (USG) current two-year colleges are set to offer limited bachelor’s degree programs, following approval today by the Board of Regents to change their institutional mission to that of a “state college.”

The four institutions are Darton College in Albany, Georgia Highlands College in Rome, and in metropolitan Atlanta, both Atlanta Metropolitan College and Georgia Perimeter College.

“The Board’s actions reflect the evolving role of our access institutions as we identify specific job-related and economic development needs throughout the state,” said Rob Watts, chief operating officer for the USG. “Officials at these institutions have made a strong and data-driven case to the Board for the mission change and for the needs in these communities for specific baccalaureate degree programs.”

The state college sector was established in 1998 and categorizes two-year, associate-degree granting institutions that have been authorized by the Board to offer a limited number of four-year baccalaureate degree programs. The University System’s other institutional categories are: research universities, regional universities, state universities, and two-year colleges. With today’s actions, there are now 12 USG institutions in the state college sector.

Two of the mission changes – at Darton College and Georgia Highlands College – reflect the regents’ ongoing focus on meeting the growing need and ongoing shortages of healthcare professionals in Georgia, specifically in nursing.

Both institutions currently offer associate’s level nursing programs. The Board’s approval will allow them to offer a bachelor of science in nursing degree, targeted to existing holders of a registered nurse license and associate’s degree who wish to complete a bachelor’s degree.

In 2006, the Health Resources and Services Administration of the US Department of Health and Human Services reported that Georgia would have a deficit of nearly 38,000 registered nurses by 2020, absent any action by state leaders. Further, a 2010 report from the Institute of Medicine indicated the need for each state to raise the credentials of its nursing workforce towards the baccalaureate degree to improve quality of care, and reduce medical errors and costs.

A review of registered nurse job openings at area hospitals in Darton’s service area found that approximately 232 registered nurse positions exist at various hospitals and health-related agencies. Darton’s new nursing program will help to increase the production of nurses in the region, complementing the existing efforts of both Albany State University and Georgia Southwestern State University’s nursing degree programs.

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