The University of North Georgia broke ground on Sept. 21 on a facility expansion at its Blue Ridge Campus, with University System of Georgia Chancellor Sonny Perdue, state legislators, community members, and university representatives joining President Bonita C. Jacobs to mark the occasion.
“We know that higher levels of educational attainment can provide life-changing opportunities that help students and communities prosper,” Jacobs said. “We are grateful for the support from the Board of Regents, Governor Kemp, House Speaker David Ralston, Senator Steve Gooch, and the state legislature that has helped us expand access to higher education across northeast Georgia.”
Perdue echoed Jacobs’ sentiment, noting that UNG’s Blue Ridge Campus allows students to pursue college degrees in a student-focused environment close to home while preparing them to be competitive in a global workforce.
UNG received $13 million in the Fiscal Year 2023 budget for the construction of a new 25,000-square-foot building and additional parking at that campus in May. Construction is scheduled to begin in early 2023 and be completed by fall 2024.
Gov. Brian Kemp signed the state budget on May 12 at the Blue Ridge Campus.
The funds are in addition to the $2 million included in the state’s Amended Year 2022 budget for the Blue Ridge Campus expansion, which is a $15 million project. The campus first opened in a temporary site in Blue Ridge in 2015, and moved to its standalone location off Ga. 515 in 2020.
The new addition will allow for a wider array of academic programs, including specialized spaces for UNG’s College of Education to allow it to offer a blended cohort of students who will compete for their degrees 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.
The new addition will allow for a wider array of academic programs, including specialized spaces for UNG’s College of Education to allow it to offer a blended cohort of students who will complete their degrees 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.
Ralston, a UNG alumnus who represents Georgia District 7, including Fannin County, championed the $15 million expansion during the 2022 legislative session. He was also instrumental in securing $5.5 million for the new Blue Ridge Campus in the 2019 fiscal year budget.
“This historic day is another great example of the state’s tremendous investment in Fannin County and its surrounding communities. I am extremely proud of the progress of the Blue Ridge Campus and am excited to see the development of this facility and the impact it will have with expanded academic programming and community engagement activities,” Ralston said in a prepared statement.
UNG’s Blue Ridge Campus has grown from 20 students when it opened in 2015 to about 230 for the 2022-23 academic year.
“The expansion of the Blue Ridge Campus footprint will be critical to building capacity for additional offerings to the surrounding North Georgia communities, which have historically been underserved prior to the opening of the original UNG Blue Ridge facility,” Gooch said.
The design includes a multipurpose event room to accommodate up to 300 guests for community outreach programs. 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 Fiscal Year 2023 state budget also includes $11.5 million in funds for the construction of a 30,000-square-foot addition to UNG’s Cumming Campus. Construction is scheduled to start late this year, with a completion date of fall 2024.
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