The state is studying the possible merger of Georgia’s technical colleges and two-year institutions. If the decision is made, the presidents at Coosa Valley Technical College (map) and the Georgia Highland College (map) say they will be committed to making it work.
“Any decision we can make to help provide more opportunities to students, either to get an associates degree or to get a diploma or a certification of Work Ready in order to make them employable, that’s what we’re about,” said CVTC President Craig McDaniel.
Last July, Gov. Sonny Perdue appointed the “Tough Choices or Tough Times” to make suggestions for improving the Georgia’s education system.
In December the committee recommended combining the 33 technical colleges in TCSG with the eight two-year institutions within University System of Georgia — creating the Technical and Academic College System of Georgia.
McDaniel said a merger would impact the Floyd community since both a two-year institution and a technical college already exist in the area.
“We’ll approach it the same way as we approached the technical college merger,” said McDaniel, alluding to the Technical College System of Georgia’s decision to combine 13 of the colleges statewide, including CVTC and Northwestern Technical College to create Georgia Northwestern Technical College.
The “Tough Choices or Tough Times” working group released a final draft in April that recommended creating a community college system or maintain the current design but improve agreements between technical schools and the university system.
But, GHC President Randy Pierce said communication be-tween the two systems is already strong.
“I know that there are some areas of the state that are underserved by the university system,” said Pierce, adding, “But, from my standpoint, as president of an institution, we’ve worked well with technical colleges in our area.”
Final consideration of a merger between TCSG and USG would take place this summer.
“It’s between the university system and the technical college system to work out the way students are best served by both,” said Pierce. “Whatever happens is of course a decision that happens at the at the state level. And, we’ll make it work.”
Professors at Georgia Perimeter College and other institutions oppose a merger, arguing two-year and technical colleges have separate and competing missions.
Technical colleges prepare students directly for the work force, while two-year colleges get students ready for four-year institutions, they said.
“They have their mission and we have ours, and it’s best for Georgia if the two stay separate,” said Beth Jensen, an English professor at Georgia Perimeter. “Folding us into them will decrease the two-year colleges’ academic standing and make it more difficult for students to transfer to four-year colleges.”
Bert Brantley, a spokesman for the governor’s office, insisted that no decision has been made on a merger, but Jen-sen and others said they believe that’s the ultimate goal based on the December draft.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution contributed to this report.