Lies, changes, and reactions: Consolidation opinions continue
Consolidation, consolidation, CONSOLIDATION! It seems as if the madness has not ceased since students, faculty, and staff found that our college would combine with North Georgia College and State University to become one school.
Hank Huckaby, chancellor of the University System of Georgia, thinks this will reduce administrative costs at institutions and help the university system recover the estimated $1 billion in state funding that the state has taken away since 2008.
Along with our institution, six others will be undergoing this new change. Schools like Waycross College will combine with South Georgia College, Augusta State University with Georgia Health Sciences University, and Middle Georgia College with Macon State College.
Since its official announcement, consolidation has become one of the most talked-about subjects around campus, mostly because we have no answers.
This consolidation has been one of the worst decisions that the USG could have ever made, aside from the creation of Georgia Gwinnett College. I find it interesting how the system is desperate to save money now, yet the construction of GGC just a few years ago (and just a few miles away from us) cost tens of millions of dollars, and surprise, surprise, they won’t be affected by the changes. Talk about equality.
Then there’s the problem of credibility. Early in fall semester, I was in charge of covering the retirement of GSC President Martha Nesbitt. In the interview, she talked about the process for selecting candidates to replace her. GSC was supposed to have a committee of students, faculty and staff to interview the candidates when they came to campus.
A few weeks later, Chancellor Huckaby came here to dedicate Academic 4. According to documents the Board of Regents released to Morris News Service, Huckaby probably knew about the upcoming consolidation when he was here, yet he discussed the search committee to replace Dr. Nesbitt as if it were going to happen, never giving a hint about what lay in our future.
One thing that I will never understand is how he could sit down with student leaders as he did on that visit and assure them that the search process for a new president was moving along.
Only weeks later we at GSC would find out through an Atlanta TV station that there was to be no search for a new president.
I have no objection to the idea that change is good, but when it comes to situations of this magnitude, then I have a problem.
Leaders like Huckaby lead us to question the credibility of all our leaders.
What bothers me is not so much that he thinks that this change will be something that will better the system or that merging colleges will offer greater opportunities for students. It’s more the fact that six months is not enough for a recently selected individual to be in the chancellor position and make such an intense and rather impulsive decision as this one.
Yes, maybe he was trying to do something good, but why not take the time to get to know the real essence of each institution? Why not take the time to consider the needs of the students, faculty and staff that make up each institution?
And why not take the time to do a careful cost-benefit analysis? It’s not even clear that the consolidations will save money. According to the documents the BOR released, they didn’t examine the benefits and cost savings. They didn’t even consider consolidating other schools. They simply looked at a little information from the eight schools they had already picked.
The Morris News Service story quoted Executive Vice Chancellor Steve Wrigley, who was in charge recommending the schools to consolidate, that no one on his staff had bothered to take a close look at any financial information about the schools to see if consolidation made sense.
These are big changes for both GSC and NGCSU. All of these changes could result in the extinction of the individual personality, spirit and value of each school.
And now there’s nothing left for us to do other than to adapt to the changes, while the youngest institution in the University System of Georgia remains untouched.