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GMC-Valdosta is expanding

GMC under construction College adds more parking, classrooms as student enrollment climbs By Johnna Pinholster The Valdosta Daily Times — VALDOSTA — Georgia Military College is expanding. On July 6, construction on additional parking spaces began. In the coming weeks construction on a 22,000-square-foot building will start. Leslie Hafer, Valdosta campus director, said the space is needed as the college has seen a 13 percent growth in enrollment in each of the last two years. More than 1,100 students attended the college last year, she said. The new building will house six regular classrooms, a science lab, computer learning center, physical education room, four multi-purpose rooms, offices, a study hall and a student activity center. The physical education room will be used for yoga and step aerobics and the multi-purpose rooms will give the college space for guest lectures, student groups and orientation, Hafer said. Both buildings will have a student activity center, but Hafer said the center in the new building may have food options other than what is offered in vending machines. The two buildings will not be directly connected but will have a walkway with an awning for students to go from one building to the other, Hafer said. In between the buildings a landscaped courtyard will be available for students to hang out in between classes. Hafer, who has been with the college since 1993, when it was still located on Moody Air Force Base, is amazed at the college’s growth. “It’s great to know where we’ve come from and see where we are headed,” Hafer said. Before moving out to the current location two years ago, the college was located in the Castle Park shopping center. But the goal was to have a campus with a collegiate feel, Hafer said. “If you put students in a comfortable environment, then they are going to excel,” she said. The additional parking will double the spaces available to students, she said. Currently, the college has 300 parking spaces. When the additional parking is completed Georgia Military College will have 600 parking spaces available, Hafer said. The estimated completion date for construction on the parking and new building is Jan 1, 2010, she said. The building will be ready for winter quarter, which starts Jan. 11, Hafer said. The expansion allows the college to offer more courses to students and keep the class sizes small. Georgia Military College usually caps classes at 25 students, but with increased enrollment and the current single building, some classes have went to 30 students, Hafer said. When the other building is completed, all classes will go back to 25 students, she said. The school prides itself on individual attention for students, and the key to doing that is keeping class sizes small, Hafer said. The property and facilities used by Georgia Military College are owned and built by Friends of GMC. The college leases the property through long-term lease agreements from the organization, Hafer said. To determine what was needed in the building, input from faculty, staff and the Student Government Association played a key role in what the new building would be comprised of. Starting in the fall Georgia Military College will offer 20 degree programs with the introduction of paralegal and biology degree programs, Hafer said.