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Strategic Big Bets and Footpaths

How President Shannon’s drill field construction is affecting UNG Dahlonega students
Construction on the drill field

Construction and plans for the future have thrown a wrench in the day-to-day lives of students.

On July 1, 2023, Michael Shannon became president of the University of North Georgia. Following this, in October 2023 his white paper Bold Forward: Running Into Our Calling was published detailing Shannon’s “Strategic Big Bets” to revamp many aspects of the school, chief among them being the Corps of Cadets. Part of this plan includes renovating the Gen. William “Lipp” Livsey Drill Field with new staging spaces as well as a formal gate to mark the entrance of the drill field. Construction for this project began in November 2023 with a large fence being put up around a large portion of the drill field.

At first, this fence presented no obstruction and only took up a small portion of the drill field. Later, as construction continued, the fence grew to cover the entire sidewalk and nearly half of the road. Halle Pascoe, sophomore nursing major says, “It felt strange and out of place. It was a nuisance at first, and it still is to me in my opinion.” Popular footpaths for students are obstructed, forcing students and vehicles to share the same space. Tillman Smith, sophomore strategic and security studies major says, “It’s more difficult to get around campus now that I have to share the road with the buses.”

Aesthetic issues have also come about with this construction, the usually scenic drill field is now coated in gravel and construction vehicles. The construction doesn’t stop off campus either, with changes being made in downtown Dahlonega.

“Between the construction in town and the construction on the field, Dahlonega looks more like an Atlanta highway than a college town.” – Tillman Smith, sophomore strategic and security studies major

With construction slated to be complete by early April, according to an article on the UNG website, there should only be a few weeks left of these obstacles. Pascoe says, “From what I’ve seen, I highly doubt the school will be able to finish these renovations by early April. Late April is my earliest guess for when it will be complete at the rate they seem to be going.”

On March 29, Residence Life revealed to students in an email that the unveiling of the new drill field will be on April 18.


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