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UNG Cumming campus celebrates five-year milestone
ung
Courtney Cordova, dining hall supervisor for UNG Dahlonega, cuts cake at the five-year anniversary celebration of the institution’s consolidation held on the Cumming campus Wednesday. - photo by Bradley Wiseman

The University of North Georgia’s Cumming Campus is celebrating a birthday with cake, sweet tea and visions of what the future holds for the learning institution. 

This week marked the five-year anniversary of the consolidation between Gainesville State College and North Georgia College & State University, and in that time enrollment at the UNG Cumming Campus has grown from a little less than 500 students to more than 1,100. 

The UNG Cumming Campus celebrated the milestone Wednesday at the campus.

According to Jason Pruitt, executive director of the UNG Cumming Campus, school administration could not be more pleased with how the school has done. 

“The growth in five years has been tremendous, but that’s not unusual for Forsyth County,” Pruitt said. “It feels good that we have been a part of providing education opportunities in this region.”

He said that the UNG Cumming Campus was expecting between 200 and 250 students, but that they actually opened initially with a little less than 500 students. 

“We weren’t sure how it would go. It’s kind of like any business. You can do the market research and see where you think the demand is going, but you won’t know for sure,” Pruitt said.  

Pruitt said one of the reasons he thinks the school has done so well is that the institution has found a good target market, and given people exactly what they want. 

“There was really no four year education provider in this region, so it has been really rewarding to be here … the majority of our students are from Forsyth County, about 80 percent of them coming from this county or counties contiguous with us,” he said. 

Pruitt said that the learning institution has added more than 100 graduate students to the campus, and now have three graduate programs, master of business administration, master of education and master of counseling, with more planned for the future.

According to Pruitt, the Cumming UNG Campus has the highest number of dual-enrolled students of all five campuses. He said the learning institution is home to more than 250 dual-enrolled high school students, who attend college classes as a senior in high school for a leg up on college level classes. 

“And that’s due to our great relationship with the Forsyth County School System,” he said. 

One of those dual enrolled students, Morgan Burton, a senior at Creekview High School in Canton said that she started at UNG because of how convenient it was to her home and school. 

“But it also has a really good program,” Burton said, “I want to be a nursing major, so that is really important.” 

Burton said that she was most surprised by how welcoming and flexible to her schedule the school turned out to be. 

“It’s been really awesome, I have loved it a lot more than high school. It’s flexible; you don’t have to be in school all the time. The teachers are all nice and work with you. UNG has been a great experience,” she said. 

Added Burton: “I expected the professors to be less personable and not really care about your education. But since this is such a small campus, all the teachers are really friendly and work with you.”

Professor of Philosophy and Economics Geran Dodson attended the celebration Wednesday. He said that he has been with UNG since the beginning and worked at Gainesville State College for three years before the consolidation.

Dodson said that in his opinion UNG’s greatest asset is the flexibility it allows students and educators. 

“One of the real positives about UNG is that with the various campuses students have flexibility to take courses on whichever campus they want to. In addition, teachers might work wherever they are needed,” Dodson said.

“I think the culture is really positive here when it comes to education. Students are very open to learning, are open to new ideas and come to class on time. That’s really a professor’s dream,” he added.  

UNG announced this year that its total enrollment grew from 14,221 in spring of 2013 to 18,782 in fall 2017. It also announced that more than 13,400 degrees and academic certificates had been awarded by the university. 

“The goals of consolidation were to increase educational opportunities and access while streamlining administrative services and avoid duplication. We have achieved that and so much more,” said UNG President Bonita Jacobs in a press release.

Pruitt said that the future of the UNG Cumming campus will likely involve new programs and classes, more students and a possible building expansion. 

“It’s been a great five years, a quick five years, and we look forward to the future,” he said.