Formerly known as Floyd College, Georgia Highlands College is a nonresidential, two-year unit of the University System of Georgia and offers numerous transfer and career-oriented academic programs of study. The main campus is located six miles south of downtown Rome, adjacent to U.S. Highway 27, and serves students who commute from throughout northwest Georgia and northeast Alabama. The college also operates additional campus sites in Cartersville, Douglasville, and Marietta. In fall 2015 more than 5,700 students were enrolled at Georgia Highlands.
In 1968 the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia authorized the establishment of Floyd Junior College, and Floyd County voters approved funds for the institution in a referendum held in November of that year. The school became the eighth junior college and the twenty-seventh unit of the university system.
Within several months of the authorization of the new junior college, construction began on a site south of Rome. The first classes were scheduled for September 1970, but the facilities were not complete. Administrators made temporary arrangements at Rome’s downtown Metro Building and First United Methodist Church until the site was ready, in December 1970.
David B. McCorkle, the former administrator at the Medical College of Georgia (later Georgia Health Sciences University) in Augusta, became the first president of Floyd Junior College. In the school’s first year of operation, 544 students enrolled from Bartow, Chattooga, Floyd, Gordon, Haralson, and Polk counties. Students took classes in such programs as business, criminal justice, deaf education, florist and nursery management, general education, medical laboratory technology, mental health technology, nursing, and textile management. In 1971 Floyd produced its first graduate, Claudia Williams, who received an associate of science degree in education.
More space was needed to accommodate the growing number of students. In 1972 the school accepted bids for new construction of 60,000 square feet that would include a library, additions to the student center, and classroom and office space for faculty, staff, and student activities. By 1975 enrollment at Floyd was 1,300. In 1987 “junior” was dropped from the institution’s name, which became Floyd College. In 2005 the Board of Regents approved a name change to Georgia Highlands College, which reflected the school’s growth beyond Floyd County.
Growth and Expansion
In the 1980s the school opened classroom space in downtown Cartersville, in Bartow County. The facilities included four general-purpose classrooms, a room for televised classes, a classroom for science and nursing labs, a bookstore and faculty offices. In 1994 Georgia Highlands expanded to downtown Rome, in the old East Rome Junior High School building now known as Heritage Hall, which is more accessible to students who work in Rome. That same year, the college launched a twenty-four-hour cable station, FCTV, which offers classes that can be seen many times weekly for students with scheduling conflicts.
In 1996 a Haralson County extension site in Waco opened with seventy-five students. The campus at Haralson enrolled approximately 185 students and offered a limited number of courses applicable to career and transfer degrees. The Haralson County branch closed after the 2004 school year. The college also joined resources with Coosa Valley Technical College (later Georgia Northwestern Technical College), in Floyd County, to offer an associate of applied science degree in several business and health fields.
During the 1997-98 academic year, the college received national attention for a new program, the Information Technology Project, which provided every student with a laptop computer upon enrollment. The program is still in operation.