Merger proposed for Georgia State University, Georgia Perimeter College

ATLANTA — The University System of Georgia Board of Regents approved a proposal Tuesday to merge Georgia State University and Georgia Perimeter College into what would become the largest school in the state.

The schools' combined fall 2014 enrollment was 53,927 students, University System officials said in a statement. The University of Georgia is currently the largest school in the state and reported an enrollment of 35,197 students in fall 2014. Georgia State University in downtown Atlanta is the second largest school in the state. Georgia Perimeter College, a two-year school, operates five campuses throughout metro Atlanta and is Georgia's largest associate-degree granting institution.

The merger is meant to improve student success, University System Chancellor Hank Huckaby said in a release.

"Georgia State is a recognized national leader in improving student retention and graduation rates and will be able to apply its best practices," Huckaby said. "Combining these attributes with Georgia Perimeter College's leadership in providing access to students across the metro area presents a major opportunity to improve student success."

GSU President Mark Becker is expected to serve as president of the consolidated school. The consolidation of the schools must be approved by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools by the end of the year and the Board of Regents has to approve of the newly consolidated school in 2016, University System of Georgia officials said.

A group composed of representatives from both schools will be formed to submit the documents required for the university to receive accreditation and to help the schools navigate the consolidation process.

The University System of Georgia Board of Regents on Tuesday also announced that the merger of Kennesaw State University and Southern Polytechnic State University has been finalized.

The school will operate as Kennesaw State University and KSU President Daniel Papp is serving as president of the newly consolidated university. Southern Polytechnic State University's former president, Lisa A. Rossbacher, stepped down and is now president of Humboldt State University in California.

The University System of Georgia has consolidated 10 schools into five to better serve students, University System of Georgia Vice Chancellor for Planning and Implementation Shelly Nickel said in a release. The system is now composed of 30 institutions, officials said.

Copyright The Associated Press