Note from the Editors: In January 2013 North Georgia College and State University (NGSCU) merged with Gainesville State College to form the University of North Georgia. This article chronicles the history of NGCSU from its founding until the time of the merger.
North Georgia College and State University (NGCSU), a unit of the University System of Georgia, is one of six senior military colleges in the nation. It offers a well-rounded liberal arts education in addition to military leadership training. The campus is in the Blue Ridge mountain town of Dahlonega in Lumpkin County, the site of America’s first gold rush.
The college was established in 1873 largely as a result of the endeavors of William P. Price, a Dahlonega lawyer, Confederate veteran, and former member of the U.S. Congress. David W. Lewis, an agricultural reformer of the Old South and a member of the Congressional Congress, was the first president. Then called the North Georgia Agricultural College, the school provided agricultural training and had a preparatory department. In the 1920s both the agricultural and preparatory programs were eliminated, and accordingly the college was renamed North Georgia College in 1929. It remained a four-year institution for many years, but by the 1990s it was offering several master’s degrees, and in 1996 its name was changed to North Georgia College and State University.
In 2003 NGCSU had an enrollment of approximately 4,500 students, 35 percent of whom lived on campus. Undergraduate degrees are offered in fifty majors, including education, business administration, mathematics and computer science, the sciences, the humanities and fine arts, history, and the social sciences. The institution has always been especially strong in the sciences and has a well-regarded premedical program. NGCSU grants master’s degrees in education, physical therapy, community counseling, and nursing, as well as an educational specialist degree. Freshman SAT scores and graduation rates are among the highest in the university system. Named as one of “America’s Best College Buys” (1999 and 2000) by John Culler and Sons and listed in Templeton Guide’s “CollegesThat Encourage Character Development” (2000) because of the leadership program offered in its Corps of Cadets, NGCSU is ranked as the eighteenth safest college campus in the United States by Healy Roman and Associates.
Women have always been admitted to NGCSU, and women now constitute 65 percent of the student body. The institution was the second state college (after the University of Georgia) and the first military college to admit women to its Corps of Cadets. The 112-acre main campus includes Price Memorial Hall, built on the foundation of the old Dahlonega Mint, with a steeple plated in Lumpkin County gold; Rogers Science Building; Dunlap Hall, the main academic building; Memorial Hall, the athletic and military center; Hoag Student Center; and Nix Mountain Cultural Center. A new $12.6 million health and natural sciences building, completed in 2001, houses a planetarium, a media center with a health science library, three academic departments, and a primary care center.
In 1998 NGCSU dedicated the Newton Oakes Center, a major expansion of Dunlap Hall, the university’s main classroom building. The Board of Regents approved the construction of a 90,000-square-foot information technology building with state-of-the-art computer facilities and electronic classrooms. The new building will supplement the existing Stewart Library, which will be renovated as a part of the new information technology center.
NGCSU classes are offered on several satellite campuses as well. Both nursing and education facilities have offered collaborative courses with overseas institutions via video conferencing. Faculty members have participated in Board of Regents initiatives to create Web-based courses in reading, English as a second language, and French.
Participation in the ROTC program is required of resident men and optional for commuters and women. The Corps of Cadets, which includes approximately 15 percent of the student body, sets the campus tone of dedication, motivation, and responsibility. NGCSU cadets have been among the highest-performing cadets at the Army Advanced Camp at Fort Lewis, Washington. In 1991 and 1995 the U.S. Army named NGCSU’s ROTC program the number one military program in the nation. Distinguished military graduates of NGCSU are admitted into the regular army on the same basis as graduates of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in New York.
Various student organizations, honor societies, military groups, performance and student publication groups, and sororities and fraternities are available for extracurricular activity. Students participate in National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Division One intercollegiate basketball and tennis teams, as well as in intramural sports.