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Fayetteville’s first college campus — From 0 to 300 students in 9 months

Fayetteville’s first college campus — From 0 to 300 students in 9 months

Wed, 09/30/2015 - 5:53pm Monroe Roark

http://thecitizen.com/news-business/f%E2%80%99ville%E2%80%99s-first-college-campus-%E2%80%94-0-300-students-9-months

One year ago, it was a vacant piece of land.

Today nearly 300 students attend college on that same spot in Fayetteville, the seventh full campus of Georgia Military College, in a new facility that rose out of the ground in a matter of months.

Rock Donahue, the school’s executive director, gave a report on the school’s progress during the Sept. 24 regular meeting of the Fayette County Board of Commissioners. A retired brigadier general, he was hired and came on board only a few days before the groundbreaking last October.

Georgia Military College was established by the General Assembly in 1879, began teaching classes in 1880 and received its current name in 1900.

“We are a public, independent, two-year accredited college,” said Donahue. “Some say junior college or community college; we just say college.”

The Fayetteville campus is behind Piedmont Fayette Hospital and down the street from Pinewood Atlanta Studios, and school officials hope to offer programs in the future in conjunction with those organizations.

The only post-secondary educational facility in Fayetteville, GMC had 284 students enrolled by the end of its first week of classes in August, no small feat considering school staff only began occupying the building July 15 after construction was completed.

Donahue began hiring staff in January and now has 11 employees along with 24 adjunct professors. The school offers 25 associate degrees and expects to be offering a bachelor of applied science degree in Fayetteville sometime next year.

“This was a big step because we don’t typically come out of the gates and build a new facility,” Donahue said of the nine-month process that produced the current building.

There are many traditional students at the school but also some non-traditional ones, and Donahue spoke as if he knew many of them personally. There are 65 high school students taking college classes there now (including some tenth-graders), but there are also parents who are finally taking the opportunity to participate in higher education. Two of the students on campus are a mother-son duo, he said.

Among the students are Donahue’s own 21-year-old twin daughters. His two older children, a son and a daughter, are Army officers as well as their spouses. Including the retired general himself, the five family members have 11 combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan under their belts.

Continued growth at GMC will mean future changes. Donahue told the commissioners that once he reached 500 students, he has the authority to go to Milledgeville and get funding for a second building that will be constructed adjacent to first building.