- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 18, 2015

ATLANTA (AP) - As of July 1, Georgia will have another university to be known as Middle Georgia State University, the state’s Board of Regents said Wednesday.

The new entity will give Georgia 18 university-level institutions, including the Georgia Institute of Technology, said Regents’ spokesman Charles Sutlive.

Christopher Blake, now at Middle Georgia State and president of the new university, said it will begin offering master’s degrees programs almost immediately. He said having “university” in the title will give the whole middle Georgia region a reputational and psychological boost. Middle Georgia State College was formed in 2013 when Middle Georgia College merged with Macon State College.

He said the university will have about 8,000 students. But Blake, a native of England, said there are no plans for an intercollegiate football team to compete with the likes of Georgia, Georgia Tech or Georgia State.

“When you say football to an Englishman, we have an idea of the real beautiful game,” he said with a smile. “We have no plans for football. We have club football, intramural, that is outstanding.”



Starting immediately, “one of the major pieces is the capacity now to offer graduate programs,” he said in an interview. “That’s a very critical piece of it. We’re living in a century when you need ongoing lifelong learning. At the same time, it’s more than that - it means having to think and perform and (have) vision at a higher level.”

He said he expects enrollment to reach 10,000 within two years and wants “to see a university where we connect, spread our communities, which spread across 175 miles of middle Georgia. We could be a resource in the education whether they are 18 or 58.”

He said the first master’s program likely will concentrate on cybersecurity, which he said is badly needed in the U.S. Plans also call for a master’s in nursing, then advanced degrees in management and education.

“Traditionally, colleges have been places of undergraduate residential experience,” he said. “A university has been more of a plurality of experiences and ideas and I think what this really does is allow us to be able to look at ways we can celebrate our distinctive different strengths. We can unify, but that doesn’t mean uniformity.”

The institution has campuses in Macon, Cochran, Dublin, Eastman and Warner Robins, and it is home to the only public school of aviation in the state.

Macon State was founded in 1868, and Middle Georgia in 1884, in Cochran. The only other university in the area, Mercer, is a private institution.

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