University of North Georgia’s administration is optimistic about the continued growth and development of the Blue Ridge campus, which has grown quickly since its fall 2015 opening.
The campus, which opened last fall with 21 students, now has 112 students, said campus director Sandy Ott.
As the student population has grown, the faculty has increased from two to five full-time members.
“We do plan to grow over the next two years, and are so excited about the bright future of the UNG Blue Ridge Campus,” Ott said.
The growth has been fast, but the university has provided strong support which made it possible, Ott said.
Richard Oates, who oversees the Blue Ridge campus, also said the campus growth had been faster than expected. Neither Ott nor Oates gave a precise number of students the university plans to add within the next few years.
The Blue Ridge campus offers math, English, psychology, political science and philosophy. Both Oates and Ott said the university plans to expand the programs offered to accommodate student needs.
In its first year, most of the campus’s students were dual enrolled students. However, traditional students now outnumber dual-enrolled students. Ott said that dual enrollment is still very important to the Blue Ridge campus.
Oates said dual enrollment “introduces students to college-level courses and the ability to earn college credits while still enrolled in high school. We expect this will not only reduce the time-to-graduation for students, but also build confidence in students who may not be thinking about college and reconsidering their college options.”
In addition, the Blue Ridge Scholars Program gives beginning freshmen opportunities for interdisciplinary curriculum, service learning opportunities and strong focus on leadership, Ott said.
Both Ott and Oates painted the relationship between the university and the town of Blue Ridge in positive lights.
“One of the key factors in economic development and growing a community’s economy is a community having an educated workforce. We hope to be a catalyst for that growth,” Oates said.
Ott said, “There is a sense of excitement and pride to have UNG in Blue Ridge.”
She said the faculty is very involved in Fannin County, through organizations such as the community theater and local arts associations.
In addition, the UNG Blue Ridge Community Leadership Council comprises business professionals, community organization leaders, Chamber of Commerce representatives, school systems administrators and UNG representatives who share information and resources, Ott said.
Members of Fannin County’s local government could not be reached for comment on their perspective of the university’s impact.