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Board approves first step

Planning for JDCC, Faulker State move to begin

The state community college system board has approved the first step in a Jefferson Davis and Faulkner State community college merger.

Thursday the board approved a resolution to begin the planning phase of the project and to notify the Alabama Commission on Higher Education and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS) of its decision.

However, the move is not a “done deal,” as the consolidation/merger is an ACCS board of trustees action item for the Dec. 10 meeting, and outlines the possible joining of Alabama Southern and Reid State community colleges and Central Alabama, Southern Union State and Chattahoochee Valley community colleges.

Last week, JDCC Interim President Dr. William Blow broke the news of the possible merger/consolidation to staff and community leaders. During those meetings, he said in a merger situation, a new institution would be created.

“And that’s what has been strongly implied in this situation, but the board has the ultimate decision,” Blow told community leaders. “This planning stage is just that, a planning stage. There is a lot that goes into a project like this. “

Blow said there are two reasons for the consolidation/merger of institutions.

“First, (state education officials) have to be convinced that it will cost less for operations, and secondly, that it is the best way to serve the community and its students,” he said.

“The great thing about a merger is that the two institutions can pool people, resources, functions, campuses, equipment and programs,” he said. “A stronger institution emerges, and the advantage is that together, we can be stronger than if we stood independently.”

Blow said the merger/consolidation process is not a new one for the two-year college system. He explained over the years, some 45 institutions statewide have been reduced to 25.

It is expected to take approximately 15-18 months for the entire process if the merger is approved.

“If things aren’t done right, it could be disastrous,” Blow said of the process. “Every step must be approved by the state and the commission on higher education.”

Once the steps are completed, the new institution must undergo a SACS  three-year monitoring process and meet curriculum accreditation requirements.