Bainbridge State College expanding to Donalsonville

Published 11:47 am Thursday, March 28, 2013

Bainbridge State College has announced its plans to expand into Donalsonville, Ga., by opening a 6,000-square-foot facility that will be called the BSC Learning Center.

BSC President Dr. Richard Carvajal said he hopes the new building will be completed in time for the fall 2014 semester. The facility will be located on vacant lots on the corner of U.S. Highway 84 and Cherry Street, in the middle of downtown Donalsonville.

“It’s something that we have been working on for a while, in the Donalsonville area,” Carvajal said. “We have repeatedly talked about our desire to expand our coverage throughout our service area, and we particularly want to do that when we are invited in by the leaders of the community.”

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Carvajal said the project is 100-percent privately funded, but was not sure of what its total cost will be. Groundbreaking is scheduled for fall of this year.

The facility will tentatively house four classrooms — two of which will be computer labs — as well as a multipurpose “community room.” This room can tentatively be used as a venue for hosting events such as parties, reunions, seminars and wedding receptions. There will also be a kitchen, lounge, lobby and several office spaces.

Carvajal said this project has been discussed for many years.

“This goes back decades,” he said. “For years, there has been a group of citizens in Donalsonville that have wanted the college to have a presence there. When Dr. Wilkerson was the president here, there were a couple of surveys done in Donalsonville, to ascertain the community’s interest.”

In the beginning, the BSC Learning Center will likely offer adult education training and GED classes, as well as introductory courses in core subjects like English, math, history and business, among others. Carvajal stated that Internet connectivity will also allow the center to partner with BSC to offer additional coursework.

“One of the things that we are doing is equipping the building so that its students will be able to connect, via online video access, to classrooms in Bainbridge and to the content that’s delivered on our main campus,” he said.

Carvajal noted that the size of the facility will limit its scope — it will not be able to offer as many courses as the BSC Early County Center in Blakely, Ga., for example. However, he still felt it will be large enough to meet important needs for Seminole County-area students.

“These students will likely still be driving to Bainbridge for some of their classes,” he said. “However, it will cut down on the gas costs and travel time for students. They’ll be able to at least take some of their core classes, or get their GED training there at the Learning Center. We are excited about what this change means.”

It is also possible that the site could eventually add a full Technical Certificate of Credit Program, offering Certified Nursing Assistant certificates. With support from Donalsonville Hospital and the community, the site could possibly also add a Licensed Practicing Nursing program or Associate Degree in Nursing program in the future.

Carvajal noted that the project is still in its planning stages, and it is possible that some details of the architecture or academic goals could change.

The BSC Learning Center is also expected to improve the look of downtown Donalsonville. The planned construction will be done in an area of downtown that had been destroyed by a fire in spring 2011.

“A fire is a terrible tragedy, especially in the downtown area of an old town,” Donalsonville Mayor Joe Burke told the Donalsonville News. “Just as a rain cools the dry parched land of a wildfire and brings forth new growth, Bainbridge State College and the many persons involved here have watered the dry burned downtown and new growth is emerging.”

Editor’s Note: Original reporting by Managing Editor David Maxwell of the Donalsonville News contributed to this story.