Savannah Technical College is located in Savannah, the seat of Chatham County, Georgia’s northernmost coastal county. The Crossroads Technology Campus in Savannah, a satellite campus in Hinesville, and an educational center at Fort Stewart supplement the main campus in providing education and training to the school’s service delivery area, which includes Bryan, Chatham, Effingham, and Liberty counties. Savannah Tech is a member of the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG).
The economy of Chatham County relies largely on the health care industry—among the largest employers in Chatham County in 2006 were Candler Hospital, Memorial Health University Medical Center, and St. Joseph’s Hospital—and the most popular program at Savannah Tech in 2005, based on the number of graduates, was nursing. Other popular programs at Savannah Tech are commercial vehicle operation and truck driving. The college’s high-tech Crossroads campus provides job training for Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation, which was also among Chatham County’s largest employers in 2006.
Savannah Tech’s origins date back to 1929, when the Opportunity School, offering continuing education and workplace training, was formed by the Savannah Chamber of Commerce and the Savannah public schools. During World War II (1941-45), the school offered war production classes. In 1959 the Opportunity School joined the Harris Area Trade School to become the Savannah Area Vocational-Technical School. The school officially acquired in 1967 its then five-county service delivery area, which at that time included Long County. (Long County later moved to Altamaha Technical College’s service area.) Groundbreaking for the construction of the school’s main campus took place in 1978, and classes began there in the summer of 1981.
The Army Education Center at Fort Stewart in Hinesville opened in 1989, and the following year the Department of Technical and Adult Education (DTAE) and the Savannah-Chatham Board of Education approved the school’s name change to Savannah Technical Institute. A second campus at Fort Stewart opened in 1992. Savannah Tech came under the governance of the DTAE in 1997 as the fifth largest of thirty-three technical institutes in the state. In 2000, due to legislation (Georgia House Bill 1187) that allowed technical institutes offering associate degrees to be called colleges, Savannah Tech officially became Savannah Technical College, and that same year C. B. Rathburn, the college’s current president, was appointed.
In 2003, the year after its recognition as the third fastest-growing two-year college of its size in the country by Community College Week, Savannah Tech completed two state-of-the-art instructional facilities on the main campus: one for industrial technology programs, the other for automotive programs. The Crossroads Technology Campus in Savannah opened that same year, and the Liberty Campus in Hinesville opened the following year.
According to the DTAE’s 2005 annual report, 6,724 students were enrolled in certificate, diploma, or degree programs, and 791 additional students were enrolled in noncredit courses at Savannah Tech.
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.
Technical Education and Economic Development Programs
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 Savannah Tech relies on eligibility and academic criteria: candidates must be at least sixteen years old (older for some programs). All degree programs and most diploma and certificate programs require a high school diploma or General Education Development (or GED)diploma. If these 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.
Savannah Tech’s associate degree, diploma, and technical certificate of credit programs include allied health, business and service, and occupational and technical programs, as well as general studies. As of 2005 the college’s most popular programs were in allied health, which includes dental assisting, paramedic technology, and practical nursing. Due to the large number of applicants to these programs, admissions to the allied health program is very competitive.
Other programs at Savannah Tech include automotive technology, culinary arts, and hotel, restaurant, and tourism management. In 1993 Savannah Tech was the first postsecondary school in Georgia to earn American Culinary Federation (ACF) accreditation. The college’s culinary arts students won first place in a competition hosted by the ACF in 2006. Savannah Tech’s commitment to the automotive industry is evident in the opening of a 15,431-square-foot automotive technology center in 2004. That same year the school responded to the growing demand for skilled employees in Savannah’s hospitality industry by launching its hotel, restaurant, and tourism management program.
Savannah Tech’s economic development programs include partnerships with Quick Start, a nationally recognized program that develops training for new and existing industries in Georgia, to provide training for such area businesses as Daimler AG, Gulfstream Aerospace, and JCB, a British construction and agricultural equipment manufacturer that opened a plant in Savannah in 2000.
The college 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 earn a technical certificate of credit and choose to move directly into the job market, to continue their technical education at Savannah Tech or another technical college, or to attend a four-year university.