On May 12, Gov. Brian Kemp signed the Fiscal Year 2023 state budget at the University of North Georgia’s Blue Ridge Campus. The university received $13 million in the budget for the construction of a new 25,000-square-foot building and additional parking at that campus. Construction is scheduled to begin in early 2023 and be completed by fall 2024.
“This historic budget is a product of one of the most important sessions in a generation, and I’m proud of the hard work put into it by the General Assembly,” Kemp said. “It invests in education across the board in a transformational way and makes higher education in Georgia more affordable and accessible by removing the Special Institutional Fee imposed on students and families since the Great Recession while also ensuring HOPE Scholarships and Grants cover 90 percent of tuition for most students. That emphasis on education is part of why we chose to sign this legislation on UNG’s beautiful new campus.”
These funds are in addition to the $2 million included in the amended Amended Year 2022 budget for the Blue Ridge Campus expansion, which is a $15 million project. UNG’s stand-alone Blue Ridge Campus opened in fall 2020, and the new building will allow for a wider array of academic and community service programs.
“We are grateful for support from Governor Kemp and Speaker Ralston, the legislature and the University System of Georgia of our efforts to provide access to higher education in the Blue Ridge area,” UNG President Bonita Jacobs said. “This addition will change lives by expanding academic opportunities for our students to develop the skills and knowledge they need to be leaders in their community.”
UNG’s Blue Ridge Campus has grown from 20 students when it opened in 2015 to about 230 for the 2021-22 academic year. The additional facility will provide specialized spaces for the College of Education to allow it to offer a blended cohort of students who will compete their degree in Blue Ridge. It will also enable the College of Health Sciences & Professions to offer a Bachelor of Science in Nursing program to existing students in the area who may have started through the Technical College System of Georgia or other programs.
“We have seen a record year for state investment in Fannin County, and I’m particularly proud of the investment we are making in higher education at UNG Blue Ridge,” Georgia Speaker of the House of Representatives David Ralston, a UNG alumnus who represents Georgia District 7, including Fannin County, in the General Assembly, said. “I know that as this campus grows and expands we will see more and more students benefit from additional learning and engagement opportunities in Blue Ridge and our surrounding communities.”
Included in the design is a multipurpose event room to accommodate up to 300 guests. It will host programs for Professional and Continuing Education and the Institute for Healthy Aging, as well as community meetings, student activities and conferences.
“The UNG Blue Ridge Campus expansion is going to make a difference not only in this community but throughout the north Georgia region,” Sandy Ott, executive director of the Blue Ridge Campus, said. “We are thankful for the opportunity to expand our offerings in these high-demand career fields.”
The Fiscal Year 2023 state budget also includes $11.5 million in funds for the construction of a 30,000-square-foot addition to the current 36,000-square-foot Cumming Campus building, after $1 million in planning and design was included in the Fiscal Year 2022 budget. Construction is scheduled to start late this year, with a completion date of fall 2024.
This will increase the size of the Cumming Campus facility by 83%. It will make room for chemistry, physics, foreign language, and computer labs, plus extra space for classrooms, offices, tutoring, supplemental instruction, academic advising, and the library.
The Cumming Campus has grown 175% since opening in 2012 and currently serves 1,373 students. The new space will allow for the addition of bachelor’s degrees in Cumming and provide a capacity for future enrollment of 2,200 students, particularly in health care and technology-centric programs in demand along the growing Ga. 400 corridor.
State Sen. Steve Gooch, also a UNG alumnus, expressed gratitude for the new spaces in Blue Ridge and Cumming.
“I am pleased we were able to support the university’s growth in both Blue Ridge and Cumming,” Gooch said. “The academic programs delivered in these facilities will be a tremendous asset for the region’s workforce development pipeline.”
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