A new bill introduced in the Georgia legislature would remove three historically Black state-operated universities from the University System of Georgia and place them into a new university system named Georgia A&M University. The three historically Black state universities that are part of the plan are Savannah State University, Fort Valley State University, and Albany State University. Combined the three schools enroll nearly 14,000 students, according to the latest data supplied to the U.S. Department of Education.
The bill is sponsored by Senator Lester G. Jackson, an African American from Chatham County, Georgia. Dr. Jackson’s plan would not eliminate the HBCU status of three universities, enabling them to continue to receive funds from federal programs earmarked for historically Black institutions. Dr. Jackson believes that his plan would lead to greater efficiency in administration, cost savings, and pooled resources that would benefit students at all three universities. This, in turn, would boost enrollments that have been declining in recent years at the state-operated HBCUs.
In addition to his legislative duties, Dr. Jackson also serves as dentist in Savannah. He is an adjunct faculty member at the Medical College of Georgia and Armstrong Atlantic State University. Dr. Jackson is a graduate of Paine College in Augusta, Georgia, and earned his dental degree at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee.