The University of North Georgia’s Blue Ridge campus, located in Fannin County, held its first day of classes on Tuesday, Aug.18. Though the campus opened with around twenty students, most of whom were dual-enrolled high school students, the faculty and staff of UNG Blue Ridge is anticipating significant growth moving forward.
UNG hopes to serve the demand for higher education in the area which includes Fannin, Union and Towns counties among others. Dr. Eric Skipper, the current vice president of university affairs who is overseeing the Blue Ridge campus, noted that this is a portion of the state which has been underserved in the past. Through the Blue Ridge campus, the university hopes to make higher education more accessible for people who may never have had the chance to attend or complete college in the past.
The campus is located in an easily accessible building off of Highway 515 at 83 Dunbarton Rd. It features two classrooms, a conference room, office space and state-of-the-art technology which makes connecting with any other campus in the university simple and efficient. The campus is currently offering classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and a traditional classroom setting and online courses will be available as well.
Currently, two courses are being offered on the Blue Ridge campus. The first course is Intro to American Government which is taught by Dr. Nathan Price, a new faculty member at UNG. The second course is Intro to Psychology taught by another new UNG faculty member, Dr. Alison Tingley.
Dr. Price taught the first class on the campus and said that, after pausing for a brief moment to reflect on the occasion, the class got straight to work. “These students will be treated exactly the same as any other student on any other campus,” Dr. Price shared, “It has been great. The students are energetic and everyone is friendly.”
Dr. Tingley shared her excitement over the fact that this campus will be structured in a way which makes it ideal for dual-enrollment students as well as students who are seeking associates degrees. Tingley also noted that the support from the university as well as the local community has been overwhelming.
Sandy Ott, the assistant director of the campus, shared that the university hopes to service the Blue Ridge area in many ways with this campus. “It will open opportunities that will help the students of this area begin or return to college- something that was never a possibility in the past,” Ott said, “bringing these resources to this community will have a tremendous impact.” Ott also noted that this campus will open huge economic development doors for this area of the state.
All in all, all faculty and staff members shared a sense of excitement about what will be achieved on the Blue Ridge campus. Dr. Price and Dr. Tingley look forward to teaching students who are eager to learn and are excited about the rigorous academic experience that dual-enrollment provides. As the campus grows, it promises more opportunities for added classes. This will help provide individuals who already have jobs and families with the opportunity to complete college.
A ribbon cutting ceremony for the campus was previously held on Aug.13. Among those in attendance were the new campus’ faculty and staff members, President Bonita Jacobs, UNG alumni Senator Steve Gooch and Georgia Speaker of the House David Ralston.
The UNG Blue Ridge campus opened this month following an announcement in the spring that the University of North Georgia received an operating budget from the state legislature and University System of Georgia which would allow them to open the campus in Blue Ridge.