“We were blindsided by the process,” said Somi Benson-Jaja, Armstrong State University alumni association president. “We really want to make sure this is good for the Savannah community.”
Georgia Southern president Jaimie Hebert said his office received little notice about the consolidation, but welcomed the plans as an “opportunity of a lifetime.” Hebert will be president of that school after the Georgia Southern and Armstrong merge. He noted that many Armstrong students already commute to Georgia Southern. About 20 percent of students who transfer from Armstrong go to Georgia Southern, more than any college, according to the University System of Georgia.
Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College President David Bridges will lead that institution after its consolidation with Bainbridge State.
Hebert and University System of Georgia officials said town hall meetings will be held to get input from students, faculty and community members about the consolidation and to make potential changes. Waters said he hopes the Armstrong name is kept somewhere after the consolidation, perhaps as the name of the current Armstrong State campus.
The consolidations must still be approved by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. University System of Georgia said it may take about a year before the plans receive SACS approval and brought before the Board of Regents for final approval.
University enrollment, Fall 2012-Fall 2016
Georgia Southern - 20,574; 20,516; 20,542; 20,466; 20,674
Armstrong State - 7,439; 7,101; 7,094; 7,103; 7,157
Abraham Baldwin - 3,233; 3,394; 3,458; 3,393; 3,475
Bainbridge State - 2,939; 2,699; 2.470; 2,401; 2,468
Source: Fall semester enrollment reports, University System of Georgia