If there’s any change at BSC, let’s hope it’s positive

Published 5:43 pm Friday, August 11, 2017

wise man once said, “Change is inevitable, change is constant.”  Of any situation in our community, that quote is most relevant to the current environment at Bainbridge State College.

About seven months ago, we all learned that BSC would merge with Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton. The work to accomplish this merger is well under way and began practically as soon as the announcement was made back in January.

Of course, that announcement caused, rightfully so, a high level of uncertainty among the community, the college faculty and staff and the BSC students. As the planning work continued through the spring and summer, that level of uncertainty seemed to ebb a bit.

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But last week it was announced that Southern Regional Technical College in Thomasville would acquire the campus and capital equipment at BSC. With that announcement and the resulting affirmative votes by the University System of Georgia Board of Regents and the Technical College System of Georgia Board, some of the uncertainty returned.

In this case, my hope is that uncertainty converts to opportunity and growth. ABAC will continue to offer the academic classes that students are accustomed to on the local campus and Southern Regional will offer the technical programs our community is familiar with. This was the plan from the outset, the major change is now ABAC will be the renter and Southern Regional will be the landlord.

A very important element to this entire transition is that the crippling debt associated with the construction of the Student Wellness Center will be retired and will no longer be an almost unbearable burden on BSC now, and ABAC later.

The Board of Regents agreed to retire the roughly $20 million debt remaining on that building.  Because BSC/ABAC will not have to allocate precious funds to service that debt, those resources can be utilized to offer more academic programs to serve the students. Add the resources needed to maintain the physical plant at the college, this deal should free up funds to serve students and our community. That’s my hope, anyway.

And, with the transition, we will welcome a new member of our community in Southern Regional. While BSC always offered technical programs and did a great job serving those students, ABAC does not offer technical studies. The expectation is that SRTC will expand those programs and offer classes that will lead students directly to employment and into the work force.

With any type of change such as this, there will be many tough decisions along the way and people will be affected, some positively and some negatively.

I hope the staff and employees affected by this transition flow seamlessly to SRTC.

I attended a meeting a couple of years ago at BSC with since retired Chancellor of the University System of Georgia, Hank Huckaby. During that meeting, he plainly stated that the status quo at BSC was not sustainable and changes were coming. Dr. Huckaby clearly meant what he said as he has certainly proven to be true.

Let’s just hope this high level of change is positive and results in opportunity and growth.