Leaders caravan to Middle Georgia State campuses

jmink@macon.comJanuary 23, 2013 

WARNER ROBINS -- Standing near a tall, silver knight and dozens of purple-clad people, John Black addressed students of the newly merged Middle Georgia State College on Wednesday.

“Change is challenging, especially if it’s the large scale change we’re dealing with,” said Black, interim president of the college.

A caravan of administrators traveled to the college’s five campuses Wednesday during “A Day of Knights” event, chatting with students and faculty members about the consolidation of Macon State and Middle Georgia colleges. The merger went into effect Jan. 8, forming Middle Georgia State College with nearly 9,000 students, the Knights mascot and school colors of purple, black and silver/gray.

The most popular question Black fields is why the University System of Georgia Board of Regents chose the two local colleges for consolidation.

“I really believe they had confidence in the faculty and staff of those two institutions,” he said.

Additionally, the board saw an opportunity to transform the merged college into a university, Black said. The board signed a resolution stating it would support the upgrade to university status, which should happen within the next two or three years. The board saw an opportunity to bring to Middle Georgia “something it does not have, and that’s a public university,” Black said at the Warner Robins campus.

The Warner Robins event was the fourth stop of the day for administrators, who also traveled by bus to Macon, Cochran, Dublin and Eastman. A jazz band played as the college leaders walked into Oak Hall, and city and county leaders declared Jan. 23 Middle Georgia State College Day.

“I think what makes this campus strong are the students and the administrators,” Warner Robins Mayor Chuck Shaheen said.

The former Macon State College began offering classes in Warner Robins in 1991. Now, the campus sits on 72 acres of land -- 70 percent of which is undeveloped -- near Robins Air Force Base, officials said.

A handful of the 1,600 Warner Robins students dropped by Wednesday’s ceremony. Rachel Sammons, a sophomore from Kathleen, said she enrolled at Macon State to get her associate degree before pursuing a higher degree. Now that Middle Georgia State is on its way to becoming a university, she is considering staying beyond two years.

“And it’s good because there are kids I know who live in Warner Robins but go to Cochran,” she said. “Now they can go to Warner Robins.”

To contact writer Jenna Mink, call 256-9751.

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