Vaishali Patel and Kyle Collins
MILLEDGEVILLE — Georgia Military College is close to offering students a four-year degree once the state legislature approves the two-year community college to expand its offerings at its campuses.
“The bachelor of applied science degree in supervision and management is offered at six colleges and universities around the state. We wanted to offer it as well because of our location and our ability to support it,” said Dr. Mike Holmes, vice president of academic affairs at GMC. “We have to get the law changed in order to offer more than just first two-year level work. We’re working with state Rep. Rusty Kidd (I-Milledgeville) as well as state Rep. Bubber Epps (R-Dry Branch) who have supported us on this.”
House Bill 763 unanimously passed the House Higher Education Committee last week and the House Rules Committee Monday.
“It will go on to the Senate and state Sen. Burt Jones (R-Jackson) will champion it through the Senate. If approved by Senate and the governor, we will have to get permission from [the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS)] and submit a prospectus to increase our offering,” Holmes said. “We don’t anticipate any problems getting it through.”
In October 2012, Central Georgia Technical College President Dr. Ivan Allen allowed GMC to survey CGTC students in order to determine if there was an interest in the bachelor of applied science degree program. Of the 587 respondents, 385 students indicated an interest in pursuing the four-year degree at GMC.
“Since that survey was conducted, Middle Georgia State College (MGSC) has decided to offer the B.A.S. degree program. GMC will not go into competition with MGSC for students,” Holmes said. “Our initial focus will be in the Columbus, Augusta and possibly the Milledgeville area. We will have to reassess offering the B.A.S. at the Milledgeville campus now that MGSC will offer the [degree].”
The bachelor of applied science degree program will assist graduates of institutions under the Technical College System of Georgia attaining four-year bachelor’s degrees.
“It could take up to six months or up to a year to get approval from our accrediting agency,” Holmes said. “We’re currently working on our fiscal year 2015 budget and there’s nothing included in the budget now for the bachelor’s degree program. I anticipate to have it entered in the FY16 budget so we can hopefully implement the program in fall 2015. We will need to hire more faculty with a doctorate in business management. We have one at the Milledgeville campus, and I will probably utilize her when we develop the program.”
According to data from the Certified Literate Community Program, the Georgia Average Per Capita Personal Income for a bachelor’s degree is $70,000. Increased education also means increased tax revenues for state and local government as the average state and local taxes paid by a taxpayer is around $8,900 for a bachelor’s degree.
“Once the bill gets through the approval process, we will start working with the technical college to assist us in developing the program,” Holmes said. “We want this to be a seamless transition for students with an applied associate’s degree.”
Kidd said Lt. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV (Ret.), president of GMC, has been “very well-received” at the Capitol.
“[Caldwell] has been up there three or four times and testified before committees a couple of times already,” Kidd said. “We’ll have him back up to testify before the Senate committee next week on the 763 Bill.”
Kidd is optimistic about the GMC-related legislation passing both chambers. He said any contention from the Board of Regents and the University of North Georgia College has all but dissipated.
“Everybody is on board now,” Kidd said.