When supporters of the idea first started talking about a University Center campus off Ga. 400 at Pilgrim Mill Road that would be a joint effort between Gainesville State College & North Georgia College and State University, no one knew the two schools would be combined into one.
That bit of serendipitous timing just added to the excitement Thursday as the official ribbon cutting was held on the Forsyth campus which soon will become an important part of the University of North Georgia, which will combine the two existing colleges.
It was undeniably an important day for all of Forsyth County and worthy of celebration.
Some 200 people were on hand to hear Philip Wilheit, a member of the state board of regents, say that the campus will become an “amazing part” of the university formed by the “blending” of the two existing colleges in January.
The University Center | Ga. 400 already is off to a great start. Sherman Day, executive director for the campus, said the initial hope was for 200 students, but already that estimate has been doubled as the facility looks at having some 500 students enrolled by the end of the coming week.
Enrollment, Day said, “exceeded my wildest dreams.”
Day also praised Cumming Mayor H. Ford Gravitt, calling him the “driving force” behind the building of the University Center. Those who know the mayor can appreciate his devotion to seeing to completion those projects about which he is passionate, and he has been a relentless advocate for bringing more higher education opportunities to the city and county.
Gravitt is to be commended for his commitment to making the campus a reality and bringing to the county higher education opportunities that would not otherwise have existed.
At Thursday’s ribbon cutting, Gravitt said the new University Center would pay “great dividends” to the community for many years to come. We not only agree, but anticipate that the campus may be even more successful than anticipated, and look forward to the day when there is talking of expansion and additional facilities.
Initially the center is housed in a 30,000-square-foot, two-story building with classrooms that will be used for courses in education, nursing and business administration. We suspect that before long it’s going to be obvious that there is a need for expansion of both course offerings and physical space.
Forsyth County now is served by two quality higher education options, University Center | Ga. 400 and Lanier Technical College. As a result, more residents can pursue higher education closer to home than ever before, which adds to the quality of life for all the county’s residents.