Bainbridge College Makes Two Historic Changes as it Celebrates 40 years
Bainbridge College (BC) is no more. During their February 13th meeting, the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia approved a request to officially change the name of the institution to Bainbridge State College (BSC). This approval came on the heels of approval from the Regents to grant BC the new status of a four year college, thus the name change to reflect the new “state college” status. President Richard Carvajal reported that “Regent Doreen Poitevint of Bainbridge cast her vote in support of the requested changes and newly elected Senator Dean Burke was in attendance at the meeting in a show of support for our requests.”
The four year status enables the institution to award a limited number of baccalaureate degrees focused on the economic development needs of the region of the state served by BSC. At the meeting, the college also changed its mission statement to reflect its new status as a four year institution. “We will now make application with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools for a “Level Change,” meaning that we will be asking for their authority to officially grant baccalaureate degrees,” Carvajal explained.
BSC plans to enroll its first class into a bachelor’s degree in management program no later than 2014. This program will provide students with a core curriculum in business management, and students will be able to augment that core curriculum by choosing from various areas of emphasis that match some of the area’s most pressing workforce needs.
Dr. Tonya Strickland, V.P. for Academic Affairs stated that “when the Bachelor’s degree program is offered, we plan to offer courses in a variety of formats – online, face-to-face and hybrid – to meet the needs of our region.”
Bainbridge State College will be the third name the institution has had since its inception in 1973 as a two year college when it was referred to as Bainbridge Junior College. In 1987, the college officially dropped “junior” from its name and became Bainbridge College. Now, forty years since its opening, BSC celebrates another new name reflecting a lot of change over 4 decades.
“This status change is the perfect way for us to launch the celebration of the college’s forty year anniversary which will be commemorated with various events throughout this year”, said Dale Fuller, Executive Director of Institutional Advancement.
Bainbridge College was established in 1973 as a junior college and offered continuing education courses as well. The following year, the college began offering vocational technical classes. In 2006 BSC established a branch site in Blakely, Georgia – Bainbridge College Early County (BCEC).
The status and name change mark the next step in a series of steps the institution has taken to transform its mission and image. The college has introduced a new logo to provide a unified and more distinguished look for the college as part of an extensive branding program. A ground breaking ceremony was held last fall to celebrate the beginning of construction for the phase one addition to the Bainbridge College main campus library which will, in essence, double its size. The college is also in the process of establishing advisory boards in each of the 11 counties served by the college with a two-fold mission. The boards will provide a forum where the college can receive input regarding how the college might better meet the evolving educational and training needs of each county’s industries and students. The Boards will also partner with the BSC Foundation to raise funds for the specific benefit of county residents who attend Bainbridge State College. The prototype for these advisory boards was launched in Seminole County last fall.
“We are very excited about what this change means for Bainbridge State College, and more importantly, for the communities we serve,” President Richard Carvajal said.
The move to seek four-year status follows the recommendation of MGT, Inc., a consulting firm, who completed an Assessment of Need for the college in 2011. The study found that the percentage of adults in the 11 Georgia counties BSC serves that have a bachelor’s degree is less than half of that statewide average. Conversely, the percentage of adults who have an associate’s degree is slightly above the statewide average.
“In other words, when we have been authorized in the past to meet particular community needs, we’ve done it very well. But when we have not been allowed to meet certain needs, such as generating more bachelor’s degrees, those needs simply went unfulfilled,” Carvajal explained.
MGT recommended that a bachelor’s degree in management should be established, including concentrations in program areas where demand is strongest, such as accounting, agribusiness, business administration, criminal justice, healthcare management, hospitality, information systems, marketing, operations management, and public administration.
“We have reached out to many of our support groups for guidance as to which area we should concentrate. Our goal is to provide a curriculum which will have the biggest positive impact on the workforce development needs of our region”, Carvajal explained.
This change in “status” does not mean that BSC will discontinue offering any of the programs currently offered. The college currently serves approximately 3000 students and offers over seventy-five certificate, diploma and degree options. “We remain as committed as ever to the full offering of two-year transfer and technical degree programs that we have currently,” Carvajal stated. “This change simply seeks to build upon that tradition and only makes us that much more comprehensive than we already are.”
BSC also responds to community needs by offering a variety of noncredit courses, programs, and other learning opportunities through the Continuing Education Division. These courses emphasize both professional development and personal interest classes offered for adults.