The University System of Georgia (USG) is the organizational body that includes 28 public institutions of higher learning in the U.S. state of Georgia. The System is governed by the Georgia Board of Regents. It sets goals and dictates general policy to educational institutions as well as administering Public Library Service of the state which includes 58 public library systems. The USG also dispenses public funds (allocated by the state's legislature) to the institutions but not the lottery-funded HOPE Scholarship. The USG is the fifth largest university system in the United States by total student enrollment, with 318,027 students in 28 public institutions. The four larger systems are the University System of Ohio, City University of New York, California State University, and the State University of New York. USG institutions are divided into four categories depending on their mission statements. The categories include research universities, state universities, state colleges and regional universities.
The System is home to four research universities; Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Georgia, Augusta University and Georgia State University. The University of Georgia is the state and system's flagship university and also the state's oldest institution of higher learning. Since 2016, given the merger with Georgia Perimeter College, Georgia State University is the largest institution of higher learning in the USG, with over fifty thousand students. University of North Georgia is the state's designated military school. There are three historically black schools housed within the USG; Fort Valley State University, Albany State University and Savannah State University.
In 2012, all USG institutions combined had a $14.1 billion economic impact on the state of Georgia. Georgia Tech in Atlanta and University of Georgia in nearby Athens had the largest impacts on their regional economies: $2.6 billion and 20,869 jobs at Georgia Tech and $2.2 billion and 22,196 jobs at the University of Georgia. Georgia State University's central campus in Atlanta had a $1.6 billion economic impact with 13,736 jobs; given its merger with Perimeter College, with an economic impact of $600 million, Georgia State's overall economic impact on the Atlanta metro area is $2.2 billion.
The University System of Georgia was created with the passage of the Reorganization Act of 1931 by the Georgia General Assembly in 1931. The Reorganization Act created a Board of Regents to oversee the state's colleges and universities and the 26 boards of trustees that had provided oversight over the various institutions before passage of the act. The Board of Regents officially took office on January 1, 1932, and consisted of eleven members to be appointed by the Governor of Georgia pending approval from the Georgia Senate. The Governor held an ex officio position on the Board. The regents were to elect a chairman and select a secretary One regent was appointed from each of Georgia's ten congressional districts and the eleventh member was chosen at large.
Governor initial appointees included Cason Jewell Callaway, Sr., Richard Russell, Jr.'s (1894-1961), Martha Berry, Richard Russell, Sr. (the governor's father), George C. Woodruff, William Dickson Anderson, Sr. (1873-1957), Egbert Erle Cocke, Sr. (1895-1977) and Philip Robert Weltner, Sr. (1887-1981). Anderson was elected chairman, Weltner vice-chairman and Cocke was appointed as the secretary/treasurer. Prior to the Reorganization Act, Georgia university chief executives held the title of chancellor; however, after the Act, University heads were given the title of president and a new chancellor position was created. The USG chancellor was selected and overseen by the board. At the request of the regents, Charles Snelling, the presiding head of the University of Georgia (UGA), stepped down from his position at UGA to become the initial chancellor of the entire system.
The 1932 Annual Report for the Board stated outstanding debts of $1,074,415. Over the next few years the USG endeavored to transform the state's institutions of higher learning, reorganizing schools, merging and closing others and transforming course offerings and curriculum.
In 2013, eight institutions were merged into four.Gainesville State College merged with North Georgia College and State University to form University of North Georgia.
Augusta State University merged with Georgia Health Sciences University to form Georgia Regents University. GRU was renamed in 2015 as Augusta University.
Waycross College merged with South Georgia College to form South Georgia State College.
Macon State College merged with Middle Georgia College to form Middle Georgia State College, which was renamed in 2015 as Middle Georgia State University.
In addition, Skidaway Institute of Oceanography was merged into the University of Georgia.
In 2013, the Board of Regents voted to approve a proposal to consolidate Kennesaw State University and Southern Polytechnic State University, effective January 2015. The merged university retained the name Kennesaw State University.
In 2015, the Board of Regents voted to approve a proposal to consolidate Georgia State University and Georgia Perimeter College under the name Georgia State University. This consolidation took effect in early 2016.
Also in 2015, the Board of Regents approved the renaming of Middle Georgia State College as Middle Georgia State University, which took effect in July of that year. The Board of Regents also voted to consolidate historically black Albany State University and Darton State College. This consolidation became effective January 1st, 2017.
In 2015, the Georgia Institute of Technology was ranked #1 and the University of Georgia #33 among public institutions of higher education in the USA.
In 2017, the Board of Regents voted to approve a proposal to consolidate Armstrong State University and Georgia Southern University. The consolidated school will be called Georgia Southern University.
The Georgia Research Alliance is an Atlanta, Georgia-based nonprofit organization that coordinates research efforts between Georgia's public and private sectors. While GRA receives a state appropriation for investment in university-based research opportunities, its operations are funded through foundation and industry contributions. In its first 19 years, GRA leveraged $525 million in state funding into $2.6 billion of additional federal and private investment.
The Alliance has played a key role in building a reputation for Georgia as a center of discovery and invention, as evidenced by several major advances in science, medicine and technology. In 2007, GRA coalesced the strengths of several universities into a focused research effort built around new types of vaccines and therapeutics. As a result, Georgia is now leveraging these strengths and embarking on a major initiative to explore new ways to marshal the human immune system to fight disease.
GRA Eminent Scholars
GRA Eminent Scholars are top scientists from around the world recruited by the Georgia Research Alliance. For each scholar, GRA invests $750,000 for an endowment, an amount that the research university matches in private funds on a minimum 1-1 basis. GRA also makes investments in developing the world-class research laboratories the scientists need. Eminent Scholars often bring a research team, significant federal funding and private support for their research. Georgia’s investment in GRA Eminent Scholars has yielded more than $1 billion in outside grants and contracts for the state and helped to launch some 35 companies.
GRA's Cancer Initiative
After 10 years as an independent nonprofit organization, the Georgia Cancer Coalition became an initiative of the Georgia Research Alliance on January 18, 2012. The move was part of a larger effort to align Georgia’s economic development assets in a more effective way.
Over the past decade, the Coalition has sparked discovery through its Distinguished Cancer Clinicians and Scientists; promoted cancer prevention and education through six regional coalitions; expanded access to cancer clinical trials through its partner enterprise, Georgia CORE; and coordinated development of a statewide tissue and tumor bank.
As a GRA initiative, the program will continue as its collaborative efforts to address some of the most pressing issues pertaining to cancer prevention, treatment and research.
The Georgia Research Alliance set out to help launch companies around Georgian university research results, GRA launched its lead commercialization program, VentureLab, in 2002.
GRA also works with established Georgia companies through the Georgia Department of Economic Development and the Georgia Centers of Innovation in aerospace, logistics, life sciences, energy, agriculture and advanced manufacturing. The COIs help find technology solutions to industry challenges, in part by connecting companies to leading-edge research at Georgia's universities.
From 2002 to 2010, GRA directed $19 million of state funding into VentureLab. During that time, more than 700 university inventions or discoveries have been evaluated for commercial potential. More than 107 active companies have been formed, which employ more than 650 Georgians. These companies have also attracted $460 million in equity investment and generated $77 million in revenue.
GRA Centers of Research Excellence
To support each GRA program, the Alliance invests in advanced technology needed to make the breakthrough discoveries that lead to the launch of new companies and the creation of jobs. This combination of tools and scientific talent has made Georgia home to dozens of Centers of Research Excellence. Centers of Research Excellence are collaborative and individual efforts that focus on one area of scientific research.^a Includes the reported enrollment of Darton State College, which merged with Albany State University on January 1, 2017.
The institutions below are ranked by average SAT score of first-time freshman for the 2012-2013 academic year. A first-time freshman describes a student entering a 4-year college or university for the first time. These figures do not include transfer, dual enrolled, post-baccalaureate or non-traditional students. First-time freshman account for the majority of the student population at a 4-year college or university. Two public institutions, the University of Georgia and Georgia Tech, are ranked in the top 100 in the annual U.S. News & World Report college rankings.
(NOTE: The reported values are as reported by the USG's annual report, minor variations may exist when comparing to other college search publications such as Collegeboard)^c The average number of AP/IB/Dual Enrollment courses taken by a 2012 matriculating freshman at Georgia Tech was 7
^d The average number of AP/IB/Dual Enrollment courses taken by a 2012 matriculating freshman at University of Georgia was 6
^e SAT Subject tests are considered at this institution.
Two out of four USG research universities are ranked among the top 25 research universities in the nation. The University of Georgia and Georgia Institute of Technology are consistently ranked in the top percentile of research institutions. Both schools are considered to be Public Ivies, a designation reserved for top public universities in the United States.Emory University hosts 14 GRA eminent scholars. Emory is a private school and not a part of the state-supported University System of Georgia. Emory is home to 3 GRA VentureLab companies and a fourth in collaboration with Georgia Tech. Emory is a member of 8 Centers for Research Excellence. Emory usually partners with a USG research university in forming Centers of Research Excellence.
Augusta University values do not reflect the combined numbers from the 2013 Augusta State University merger.
50 Rhodes Scholars came from a Georgia college or University.^f Private Institution not affiliated with USG.
Since the scholarship was enacted in 1977, 53 Truman Scholars came from a Georgian college or University. 25 scholars came from a USG institution.
The University of Georgia and Georgia Tech rank among top 10 public universities receiving Marshall scholars. Since 2001, Georgia Tech students have received 8 Marshall Scholarships and UGA has received 5 ranking 2nd and 6th respectively for most Marshall Scholars.
In 2012, University of Georgia and Emory University ranked in the top percentile of doctoral/research institutions producing Fulbright Scholars. 38 Fulbright scholars came from Georgian institutions.