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Enrollment increase, re-opening of front campus highlight ABAC's year

Almost 1,000 students are enrolled in bachelor’s degree programs

Director of Capital Planning Melvin Merrill directed the mammoth, multi-year front campus project for ABAC which also included a complete revamping of the front lawn, a bronze statue of the Stallion mascot, and a new sign in front of the college. (Special Photo)

Director of Capital Planning Melvin Merrill directed the mammoth, multi-year front campus project for ABAC which also included a complete revamping of the front lawn, a bronze statue of the Stallion mascot, and a new sign in front of the college. (Special Photo)

TIFTON—One of the highest student enrollment increases of any college in the state and the grand re-opening of the historic front campus highlighted the 2013 calendar year at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College.

Fall semester classes included an enrollment of 3,394 students, a 5 percent increase over the 2012 fall term. ABAC President David Bridges said every room was filled at ABAC Lakeside and ABAC Place residential units. Almost 1,000 students were enrolled in bachelor’s degree programs, the highest number in the 105-year history of the college.

“We have known it for a while but I think students in the state and the nation are now recognizing ABAC as a bona fide baccalaureate-degree granting institution,” Bridges said.

Only 13 colleges and universities in the 31-unit University System of Georgia reported enrollment increases for the 2013 fall term. Only two, Southern Polytechnic and Atlanta Metropolitan, topped the size of the ABAC increase.

Students came from 151 of Georgia’s 159 counties, 19 states, and 24 countries. The states included Maine and Washington, and the countries included Japan, Jamaica, Australia, and Morocco.

The bachelor’s degree in biology is the fastest growing single major at ABAC with 202 students enrolled in a program that began offering junior and senior level classes in the fall term of 2011. Six hundred of the 1,000-plus students in the School of Agriculture and Natural Resources are enrolled in bachelor’s degrees including 170 in Natural Resource Management. The number of Rural Studies majors has grown from 50 to almost 200.

The Historic Front Campus Rededication Ceremony on March 1 included the opening of the George T. Smith Parlor, the History Room, and the Presidential Gallery in Tift Hall, as well as the re-opening of Lewis Hall and Herring Hall. Director of Capital Planning Melvin Merrill directed the multi-year project for ABAC which also included a complete revamping of the front lawn, a bronze statue of the Stallion mascot, and a new sign in front of the college.

Fitzgerald sculptor Randy Anthony carved busts of Henry Harding Tift and Abraham Baldwin out of 500-pound blocks of Georgia marble to complement the Tift Hall entrance way. As a part of the ceremony, three alumni, Cathy Cox (Class of ‘78), A.J. Powell (Class of ‘40), and Mamie Ethel Talley (Class of ‘28) rang the original bell that summoned students to class in 1908.

Seven new trustees joined the ABAC Foundation. They included James Lee Adams, Jr. from Camilla and James H. Moore, III from Albany.

“U.S. News & World Report” named ABAC one of the top public schools in the South Region of the United States in its annual “Best Colleges” ranking. ABAC was ranked 14th in the poll.