Middle Georgia State Welcomes First Class of University Students

Thressea Boyd

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015

A longtime dream begins this week as Middle Georgia State starts its first academic year as a university. Georgia’s newest public university started its celebration on July 1, with events at all five campuses—Macon, Cochran, Dublin, Eastman, and Warner Robins—and festivities are scheduled throughout the year.

With support from the Board of Regents, faculty, staff and students, alumni, Foundation Board of Trustees, and the Central Georgia community the process to become the state’s newest university progressed very quickly. On March 18, 2015, the Board of Regents unanimously approved Middle Georgia State’s request for university status.  

As a university, Middle Georgia State will expand its undergraduate programs and offer graduate degrees, increase scholarly activities for faculty members and students, and develop more partnerships with regional businesses and the community. 

In regards to undergraduate programs, Middle Georgia State currently offers an array of bachelor’s degrees and approximately 28 associate degrees, plus six Associate of Applied Science degrees directly related to the field of aviation. 

Dr. Christopher Blake, Middle Georgia State president, explained that as the university increases the number of degrees at the baccalaureate level there will be a decrease in associate degrees offered. 

“We are not eliminating all associate degrees, some of them work very effectively,” he said. “For example, in the aviation and aerospace industry they are important in terms of career beginnings. So we do not want to deny that access, but the main thrust of our undergraduate degree planning will be focused toward bachelor’s degrees.” 

Middle Georgia State’s first graduate degrees will include a Master of Science in Information Technology with three concentrations – information security, digital forensics and health informatics – and a Master of Science in Nursing with a major in Adult/Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner. 

The start date for the graduate programs is pending approval from the appropriate academic accrediting agencies. According to Middle Georgia State’s website, additional master’s degrees are also under development in areas such as business and education. 

Blake stressed that Middle Georgia State will continue to examine all new and existing degree programs, both at the undergraduate and graduate levels, to ensure they have a direct impact on immediate and future workforce demands. 

Strengthening partnerships with businesses, non-profits, schools, government agencies, and the military is important to Middle Georgia State’s responsibility as a university. 

“It is all about connections with businesses and emerging industries in Georgia and tailoring programs and courses that directly impacts workforce development in our area,” said Blake. “Middle Georgia State has developed partnerships that allow students to work toward a degree at whatever stage in life they are.” 

Blake said that university status also brings a new vision to the role of faculty members in terms of teaching, scholarship, and service. 

“Understand that we do not just transmit knowledge but that we are in the knowledge creation business,” he said. “Research will not be at the level of a formal research institution; however, we encourage our faculty to become leaders in their disciplines and collaborate with students." 

As Middle Georgia State continues to shape its role as a university, each of the five campuses will continue to develop distinctive signature programs that address the educational and workforce needs of the region. 

For example, the Eastman campus will remain focused on aviation programs, and Cochran will become home to the new University College. The Warner Robins campus houses the Office of Graduate Studies and is the site for a planned STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) center.

The future of Middle Georgia State will be further defined in the university’s 2015-2018 Strategic Plan, which was unveiled to faculty and staff during fall convocation on Aug. 7. According to Blake, the strategic plan will reflect the university’s vision and values and provide a sense of where it needs to go in the coming years.

“We are starting a new year as a university,” Blake said. “We will continue to enhance the career openings and opportunities for our current students and alumni. I hope they will continue to support their university through financial gifts that will make a transformational impact on the lives of our students and in the community.”