Feature Stories

Extending education

Not every student earning a UGA degree takes classes on the Athens campus. In fact, these days hundreds of students are enrolled in graduate and undergraduate programs at UGA's three other campuses, in Tifton, Griffin and Gwinnett and at the Terry College of Business campus in Atlanta.

UGA began offering undergraduate and graduate degrees at its experiment station campus in Griffin in 2005. Degree programs at UGA's Tifton station began two years earlier. Since the mid-1980s, UGA has offered graduate degree programs and continuing education courses at a variety of locations in Gwinnett County. Last summer, UGA moved those programs to a new facility just off I-85 in Lawrenceville, which provides space for future expansion.

"This really is a reflection of the concept that the state is our campus," says Bob Boehmer, associate provost for institutional effectiveness and extended campus educational programs. "UGA has people, land and buildings at various locations around the state. We also have people in those areas who need access to everything from public services to master's degrees in education."

Currently, the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences offers programs in Tifton, serving about 50 students. In Griffin, which draws from a larger population of students, programs are offered in agricultural and environmental science, business, family and consumer science, microbiology and education. About 125 undergraduate and graduate students are enrolled at that campus. The Gwinnett campus draws in an additional 500-600 students earning graduate degrees in social work, education, pharmacy, food technology, business and public administration.

Another 271 students are enrolled in traditional, executive and fast-track MBA programs at the Terry College of Business campus in Atlanta's Buckhead community.

The extended campuses offer students, who might be tied to a local community for work or family commitments, opportunities to pursue degrees that aren't offered at nearby institutions.

Perry White, 23, got his associate's degree at Abraham Baldwin College in Tifton and then transferred to UGA at Tifton to earn his bachelor's degree in agricultural science and environmental systems.

"I get more hands-on learning (in Tifton)," says White, whose father and grandfather went to ABAC. "Lots of the people doing the studies and research are teaching the classes. What you're learning you know you're going to be using in your career."

Communities that are home to the extended campuses understand their value as well. In Griffin, voters approved a special local option sales tax to pay for a student learning center on campus. The center is near completion and should be ready for student use in the fall of this year.

Published Sunday,