President Michael F. Adams on UGA's extended campuses
Q: What prompted the decision to begin offering degree programs in Tifton?
A: The expansion in Tifton was prompted by two things. First was a request from numerous people in the area that we begin offering enough courses in that area so people could get a degree without having to leave home. Second, we already had in Tifton several hundred employees and some truly outstanding professors. The professors were mostly doing research and it just seemed to make sense to me there, as it does everywhere, to take the results of that research into the classroom.
Q: What is the mission of the campuses in Tifton, Griffin and Gwinnett County, and how does it differ from that of the Athens campus?
A: The mission of those campuses is the same as in Athens—the multiple missions of teaching, research and service. They do broaden the service borders. As the flagship and the largest, most academically comprehensive institution in the state owned by the taxpayer, we have a responsibility to meet special needs. I’ve already talked about Tifton; Griffin we did in concert with our friends at Gordon College and people in the Griffin community. The Gwinnett area was one of the largest counties in America without the availability of graduate education, so we established graduate level work offered by five schools and colleges there.
Q: What are the benefits to students at these campuses that students here in Athens don’t have?
A: The benefits to the students are obvious—accessibility, the value of a UGA degree and the movement out of our traditional service zones as far as age and archetype. At the Tifton campus you will find a student population largely oriented toward agriculture, in concert with the research I mentioned earlier. At the Griffin campus is a large number of students just completing two-year curricula who feed perfectly into a UGA setting, and at Gwinnett and Lenox, we are largely serving working adults who want to enhance themselves. Those are missions that the average person doesn’t normally think about for UGA, but we are broadening the service area and the types of people we are able to serve.
Q: Is it easier to get into programs in Tifton, Griffin and Gwinnett and are the diplomas the same as those received by students in Athens?
The Intellicenter building off I-85 and Sugarloaf Parkway serves as the Gwinnett campus for UGA graduate and continuing education programs. Photo by Andrew Davis Tucker
A: It is not easy to get in anywhere today at UGA because our demand is so high, but it might be a touch easier at Tifton and Griffin simply because the seats are available. The degrees are the same and the quality is at least as good.
Q: Are there plans for any additional campuses?
A: Going forward, we remain open to other state needs that may arise and we continue to look at two or three additional international locations other than the three we already own in Costa Rica, Italy and England. But frankly, the economic situation is such that we would need an upturn in our resource base and need to meet some Athens needs that have arisen during the economic downturn before we talked about establishing further off-campus efforts.