Presidents talk details of merger between colleges

Published 5:53 pm Friday, January 13, 2017


Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College President David Bridges and Bainbridge State College Interim President Stuart Rayfield sat before a group of people involved with BSC Thursday to discuss the recent consolidation of the colleges.

Though the general answer to a lot of questions was “We don’t know, yet”, the attitude from both presidents was optimistic.

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“I don’t know what it’s going to be,” Bridges said, “but it’s going to be better than what you have now. That’s something that I can promise we can do. And I think with Stuart’s leadership on the ground here, we will get there pretty quickly and you will be proud of whatever it is we accomplish.”

The merger timeline is expected to take well over a year. The majority of 2017 will be spent planning the details of how ABAC and BSC will consolidate, developing details from branding to the programs offered at the Bainbridge campus.

According to Bridges, the Georgia Board of Regents’ vote on Wednesday was in effect a vote to spend a year figuring out how to do it. Another formal proposal and vote from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges in the first week of December 2017 will greenlight the next vote from the Board of Regents for a final recommendation.

“I don’t anticipate anything formal and major before the Fall of 2018,” Bridges said.

Rayfield pointed out that what works at ABAC will not necessarily be the formula for the Bainbridge campus.

“But I think that vision and the idea to see down the road and what is needed is the piece we can transfer over here,” Rayfield said.

It is still too early for questions on the identity of the college and what kind of programs it will offer to be answered.

However, Rayfield said the merger was a chance to truly customize what Bainbridge’s ABAC campus will offer using what resources Bainbridge has and the resources from the Tifton campus.

“That is where we are going to get to be a little bit creative and to truly rethink what we are doing,” Rayfield said. “Especially on this campus.”

Campus and community listening sessions will be held in the coming months to seek and hear input on ways to best design the new institution so that it can provide the best service for the region and state. An implementation team with representatives from both the Bainbridge campus and Tifton campus will be charged with the responsibility of working out the many details associated with the consolidation.

A consolidation website will also be established to provide information and updates.

ABAC enrolled 3,475 students for the 2016 fall semester, and Bainbridge State enrolled 2,468 students.