Note from the Editors: In January 2013 Middle Georgia College merged with Macon State College to form Middle Georgia State College (later Middle Georgia State University). This article chronicles the history of Middle Georgia College from its founding until the time of the merger.
Middle Georgia College is a comprehensive two-year college within the University System of Georgia. In addition to its main campus in Cochran and selected off-campus sites, the college collaborates with Georgia Southern University to offer courses at the Dublin Center in Dublin. The school serves students in central Georgia, traditional and nontraditional students from around the state, and, to a limited extent, students from other states and countries.
The college was established in 1884 by the New Ebenezer Baptist Association, which was largely composed of Baptist churches in Dodge, Laurens, Pulaski, and Telfair counties. The college’s first building was constructed during 1885 and 1886, and instruction began in January 1887 with an enrollment of approximately 100 students, most of whom were from the middle Georgia area. During this early period, the institution was divided into preparatory and collegiate departments. A stated purpose of the 1887 curriculum was “to prepare pupils for business or for the Junior Class in Universities. This includes Latin, Greek, Mathematics, Natural Science and several modern languages, with English studies and Music.”
New Ebenezer College served as an institution of higher education until 1898, when the association discontinued its support. The college’s building subsequently served as the high school for the city of Cochran until 1913. A lack of documentation suggests that the campus remained unoccupied from 1913 to 1919.
In 1906 the state legislature passed the Perry Act, which established an agricultural and mechanical school in each of the state’s congressional districts. Such a school for the Twelfth Congressional District was authorized in August 1917 as a branch of the Georgia State College of Agricultural and Mechanic Arts, a department of the University of Georgia. The new school opened its doors on the former campus of New Ebenezer College in October 1919.
In 1927 the institution underwent a name change to Middle Georgia Agricultural and Mechanical Junior College, and the final name change to Middle Georgia College occurred in 1929. The college became one of the original units of the University System of Georgia in 1932, when that system was created, and received accreditation by the Southern Association of Secondary Schools and Colleges in 1933.
During World War II (1941-45), the college hosted one of the many pilot-training programs created across the country, and from March 1943 to July 1944, it was home to the Fiftieth College Training Detachment of the U.S. Army Air Force. The program graduated seventeen classes, preparing aviation students for pilot, bombardier, or navigator training. Prior to this, Middle Georgia College had served in a similar capacity for the U.S. Navy.
In 1958 Middle Georgia College underwent a voluntary institutional self-study and a Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) evaluation, becoming the first public junior college in the Southeast to obtain SACS reaccreditation. The Dublin Center opened in 1984. Academically and physically, Middle Georgia College continues to grow. In 2007 Georgia Aviation Technical College in Eastman merged with Middle Georgia College to form the Middle Georgia College Aviation Campus.
Programs and Services
Middle Georgia College provides a wide range of programs and services, both for its student population, which numbered 2,627 on the Cochran and Dublin campuses in fall 2004, and for the wider community. A leader among the university system’s two-year colleges in the acceptances and transfers of its students to four-year institutions, Middle Georgia College offers transfer programs in the humanities, sciences, and social sciences, as well as in preprofessional areas. These programs prepare students for entry into, and the successful completion of, baccalaureate degree programs at senior colleges and universities. General education courses make up an integral part of all transfer and career program curriculums, and learning support programs are provided for students who need to improve basic academic skills. Student support services enhance student learning and provide a campus environment conducive to personal development, while community service programs offered by the college support the economic and cultural development of surrounding communities.
Career programs are offered at both the associate degree and certificate levels. The school’s pre-engineering programs, including the Regents Engineering Transfer Program, have earned a statewide reputation for excellence. Career programs with an emphasis in allied health and nursing are offered to meet the demands of area business and industry.