Southwest Georgia Technical College
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Southwest Georgia Technical College is located in Thomasville, the seat of Thomas County. Satellite campuses in Camilla (Mitchell County) and Cairo (Grady County) help to support the college's tri-county service delivery area. Southwest Georgia Tech offers programs of study in allied health education, business and computer technology, professional services, and technical and industrial education. The college is part of the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG).
As of 2006, two of the largest employers in Thomas County were John D. Archbold Memorial Hospital and Southwestern State Hospital, and based on the number of graduates in 2005, the most popular program at Southwest Georgia Tech was nursing. The program with the second-highest number of graduates that year was early childhood education.
Southwest Georgia Tech's origins date back to 1947, when the Thomas County Vocational School opened. The school catered primarily to soldiers seeking an education upon their return from service in World War II (1941-45). Among the first programs offered were auto mechanics, construction, electrical wiring, machine shop and welding, and sheet metal fabrication. A new facility was built in 1952 in Thomasville. In 1963 segregation laws forced the opening of a second facility in Thomasville. The two schools were combined in 1965 to form an institution known as the Thomas Area Technical School.
The school continued to expand in the 1970s, first with the completion of the Paul G. Sewell Vocational Center, named after the school's first director. Alton Salter became director in 1975 after Sewell's retirement. At that time, the school offered nineteen programs of study, and more than 900 students were enrolled. Charles R. DeMott became director in 1979 and served the college until 2000. In 1987 the school transferred from local to state governance and was renamed Thomas Technical Institute. DeMott was named president of the institute when it came under the newly formed Department of Technical and Adult Education (DTAE) in 1988, and the school began offering adult literacy classes the following year.
In 1994 the school broke ground on a new allied health facility, which opened in 1997. The Sewell building was renovated and became the library/media services center in 1998, and the Mitchell County campus in Camilla opened in 1999. Due to legislation (Georgia House Bill 1187) that allowed technical institutes offering associate degrees to be called colleges, Thomas Tech officially acquired the name Southwest Georgia Technical College in 2000. Freida Hill was appointed president of the college that same year. In 2003 Southwest Georgia Tech received approval from the Georgia Board of Nursing to offer an associate degree program in nursing, making it one of only four technical colleges in the state and the only technical college in south Georgia to offer the degree. Groundbreaking for the Grady County campus took place in 2004, and the facility opened in 2006.
According to the DTAE's 2005 annual report, 2,769 students were enrolled in certificate, diploma, or degree programs at Southwest Georgia Tech. An additional 5,890 students were enrolled in noncredit courses, and 1,147 students were enrolled in the college's adult literacy programs, which are offered in each of the school's service delivery counties. In 2006 the college's current president, Glenn Deibert, was appointed.
In 2007 the DTAE created the Technical College System of Georgia, an entity comprising the thirty-four colleges under its administration, and in 2008 the DTAE's name officially changed to TCSG.
The TCSG, in overseeing the state's system of thirty-four technical colleges, its economic and workforce development programs, and its adult literacy program, has as its primary objective to create a well-educated, technically trained, and highly competitive workforce to ensure the economic success of the state and its citizens.
As with other technical colleges governed by the TCSG, admission to Southwest Georgia Tech relies on eligibility and academic criteria: candidates must be at least sixteen years old (older for some programs). A high school diploma or General Education Development (or GED) diploma is required for entry into most programs. Once all requirements are met, students can earn an associate degree, an expanded program of study that facilitates career mobility and continuing education at the baccalaureate level; a traditional diploma; or a technical certificate of credit, a short-term targeted program that prepares students for specific jobs.
Southwest Georgia Tech's commitment to health science education is evident in the large number of students enrolled in the program. Graduates of the radiologic technologist program boasted a 100 percent pass rate on the American Registry of Radiologic Technologist certification exam in 2007, as well as a 90 percent job-placement rate. Other popular and recognized programs at the college include cosmetology, emergency medical technology, and welding technology.
Southwest Georgia Tech's economic development programs include business and industry training, continuing education, and Quick Start, a nationally recognized program that develops training for new and existing industries in Georgia. In 2002 fifty employees of Archbold Medical Center graduated from the college's Certified Customer Service Specialist program, which is offered through the business and computer programs department.
Southwest Georgia Tech also participates in dual enrollment programs with local high schools. High school students eager to get a head start on their careers can attend courses at the college and receive both high school and college credit. Participants can choose to earn a technical certificate of credit and move directly into the job market, to continue their technical education at Southwest Georgia Tech or another technical college, or to attend a four-year university.