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GPC students return to classes this week

Staff Photo: Sue Ann Kuhn-Smith Maya Igbinovia, a Georgia Perimenter sophomore who attended the Decatur campus last year, is looking forward to GPC Newton  as she waits her turn in line at the bookstore. A business major, Igbinovia said she likes the fact that the Newton campus is "small, clean, and people are nice." Students began the semester at GPC on Monday. Enrollment is down about 300 students, compared to last fall.

Staff Photo: Sue Ann Kuhn-Smith Maya Igbinovia, a Georgia Perimenter sophomore who attended the Decatur campus last year, is looking forward to GPC Newton as she waits her turn in line at the bookstore. A business major, Igbinovia said she likes the fact that the Newton campus is "small, clean, and people are nice." Students began the semester at GPC on Monday. Enrollment is down about 300 students, compared to last fall.

COVINGTON -- Georgia Perimeter College was the first college in Newton County to begin classes for the semester on Monday.

"Everything is going fine here," said Ron Key, dean of academic affairs and services for the GPC Newton campus, on Monday. "We have the usual bumps, like when students don't know where the rooms are or they go to the wrong building. But our parking lots are packed, so that's good."

He said student enrollment as of Monday is about 2,200 students, which is down about 300 students from last year. Enrollment at two-year colleges across the state also is down due to the economy and as well as new requirements from the University System of Georgia that prevented some students in remedial courses from enrolling this year, officials have said.

However, Key said the figures can change a lot this week as more students make payments or add classes, and he hopes enrollment will continue to increase over that period.

"We have some growth coming, especially with Baxter International and this area growing," Key said. "We're still providing quality education and still offering courses in all disciplines, and I think we're doing good."

The Newton Campus is located at 239 Cedar Lane, off Ga. Highway 11, in Covington.

Over the summer, the school has been dealing with changes to administration, financial deficits and budget cuts. GPC had to reduce its staff of 3,000 by nearly 300 employees, including 26 staff members at the Newton campus.

More cuts could come this year, but Interim President Rob Watts recently said that new programs will continue to be added and he foresees the college continuing to grow. The Board of Regents of the USG has approved GPC and other Georgia two-year colleges to offer four-year bachelor's degrees.

The college is the third largest institution of the University System of Georgia. It serves approximately 27,000 students through four campuses in Clarkston, Decatur, Dunwoody and Newton, as well as several sites in metro Atlanta, including an Alpharetta center and partnerships at the Rockdale Career Academy in Conyers and the Newton College & Career Academy in Covington.

Fall classes continue at GPC until Dec. 11.

Residence halls open to new students to Oxford College on Friday and to returning students on Tuesday. Their classes begin Wednesday.

Georgia Piedmont Technical College begin classes Saturday for weekend classes and Monday for weekday classes.