GHC BREAKS GROUND ON NEW STUDENT CENTER
CARTERSVILLE, Ga. – Officials from Georgia Highlands College, the University System of Georgia and the Georgia General Assembly broke ground this morning on a student center at the GHC campus in Cartersville. Participating in the ceremony were University System of Georgia Chancellor Erroll B. Davis, GHC President Randy Pierce, Bartow County Commissioner Clarence Brown, Rep. Paul Battles (R - district 15), Sen. Barry Loudermilk (R - district 52), Sen. Bill Heath (R - district 31) and Rep. Christian Coomer (R - district 14). David Caswell, chairman of the Georgia Highlands College Foundation board of trustees, opened the ceremony and welcomed visitors. Cynthia Harrington, a current GHC student who plans to be around to enjoy the student center, was the final speaker at the ceremony. Harrington, a member of Phi Theta Kappa, the national honor society for two-year colleges, told guests how much she and fellow-students were looking forward to having fitness facilities and a source of food other than vending machines. As a nursing student, she plans to stay at Georgia Highlands to be one of the first students to earn a bachelor’s degree in 2013.The 55,000 square-foot student center is expected to open for fall semester 2012.
It will feature two regulation-sized basketball/volleyball courts. Suspended above them will be an elevated, indoor running track. The facility will also include a game room, grab-and-go café, a two-story open-air student lounge, a state-of-the-art weight and cardio room and the campus bookstore. In the student lounge, a soaring two-story fireplace will provide a cozy environment for studying or chatting. The building’s design reflects the mountain-lodge feel of the first academic building constructed in 2005.
The student center is a public/private venture and won’t house any classrooms. In simple terms, that means that no state funds will be used to construct the building. Wells Fargo, which is managing the financing of the venture, has sold bonds to investors to pay for construction. The GHC Foundation then will handle the finances to retire the debt over a 30-year period, paid for by a $100 student fee. The fee will also help maintain and update other facilities on all GHC campuses. The fee was approved by students last year.
Pierce said, “This venture was the result of hard work by many people. Our students showed the vision to look at the institution long-term, and keep its best interests in mind. I was incredibly impressed with them. They really thought about future students, because after all, they won’t be able to enjoy the student center while they are students here. Additionally, I applaud our foundation board for their willingnessto undertake this enormous commitment. Without their support we could never have undertaken such a project.”
For the past two years GHC has been on the state list submitted to the General Assembly by the USG for a second academic building, but the severe budget crisis has kept it from being funded.