College name change to be voted on soon
By Amanda Cordle
The disputed Georgia Highlands College name change should be voted on by the Board of Regents by April.
For the past couple of years, there has been discussion concerning changing Georgia Highlands College's name. Recently this issue has become much more pressing.
Just before the Board of Regents was scheduled to vote on the college's name on Feb. 1, the "Rome News-Tribune" ran a story about the proposal for a new name. The Jan. 29 story revealed to many in the community for the first time that the college would be getting a new name.
Shortly after the "Rome News-Tribune" ran the name change story and Rome Mayor Ronnie Wallace wrote a letter to Dr. Randy Pierce, Georgia Highlands College president, raising questions about the change, Pierce announced he would request the decision on the name change be postponed.
Georgia Highlands College students had already been informed of the pending name change in a front page story in the Oct. 19 "Six Mile Post," in which Pierce discussed the reason for the name change and some possible options.
According to Pierce, the name change proposal was officially put before the Board of Regents in October. Prior to that, several focus groups consisting of leaders in the community as well as Georgia Highlands College students and faculty were put together to consider possible new names. The top two names the focus groups settled on were Georgia Northwestern College and Etowah College.
Although Georgia Northwestern was the most popular among the focus groups, other schools in Northwest Georgia felt that it was too inclusive, according to Dana Davis, director of college relations.
Georgia Highlands College's first president, Dr. David B. McCorkle, who thinks a name change is inevitable, said, "I want it to be Georgia Northwestern but other schools objected."
The top three names preferred by Georgia Highlands College's faculty and staff other than Georgia Northwestern College, according to an informal survey conducted by the college, are Georgia Foothills, Georgia Heritage and Georgia Highlands College. The name Etowah College has been withdrawn from consideration.
Despite the name being rejected once by the Board of Regents, Pierce plans to resubmit the Georgia Northwestern College name because it has been consistently the most popular choice in focus groups and other surveys.
Georgia Highlands College was originally named after Floyd County because of the tax referendum that was enacted there to help raise money for a public college. Pierce said, "Thirty-five years ago, when there was one campus the name was appropriate."
Now that Floyd has expanded to have campuses outside of Floyd County and will have a new campus in Bartow County that can accommodate 2,500 students, Pierce said there should be a name that represents everyone from every county.
"We feel like it [a name change] is necessary because the institution has become a multi-campus and multi-regional institution and 'Floyd' does not reflect the institution. It's time to go to the next step," Pierce said.
Not only will there be the new Bartow campus, but Georgia Highlands College is currently looking to set up campuses in both Cobb and Cherokee Counties.