Tuesday, April 28, 2015

GGC10: Looking Back with Senator Balfour by: Laura Walsh

In honor of GGC’s 10 year anniversary, Senator Don Balfour visited the college to discuss the history and process of GGCs creation. While we are celebrating our 10 year anniversary, Balfour explained that “the process started much sooner than 2005.”

 “Gwinnett County was the largest populated county east of the Mississippi without a four year college and Gwinnett students were travelling to other counties to receive their education” Balfour explained, “that was what motivated the creation of a convenient alternative for Gwinnett residents.”

The Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce had a study committee in the early 90's to research whether Gwinnett should try to get their own four year college.  Glen White was the head of the Chamber that year and later served on the Board of Regents.  The Gwinnett County commission took a leap of faith when Tommy Hughes and Renee Unterman approved buying the land that would become the school.  Showing that the County had “skin in the game”.  The then Democrat governors had leaders in the community discussing the need for a four year school; Wayne Mason, Virgil Williams, John D Stephens - to name a few. 

Senator Balfour served as Chairman of the powerful Rules Committee in the legislature, which put him in the position of being an influential ally to the cause of creating a new institution and the funding needed to both start the school and have many of the buildings placed on campus.  
When asked about the amendments he found on the bill, Balfour laughed. “Right before I went to the floor to present the bill for the college I saw amendments and looked around wondering who messed with my bill!” Looking closer, the amendments articulated that the school should be named ‘Balfour University’ and that the mascot should be the Green Tree Frog. Senator Preston Smith had run a great campaign to bring awareness to the Green Tree Frog and elevate its status to that of Georgia States Amphibian which was successfully established in 2005. The amendments were just for fun and were quickly removed, but many in the Capital still lovingly refer to GGC as ‘Balfour University.’

After the bill was approved, there was a great push to find the right leadership. Dr. Kauffman and Dr. Preczewski were excellent choices as they are forward thinking and worked incredibly quickly to establish GGC. Balfour explained that Kauffman’s push for accreditation was so efficient that it was completed in record time.

Senator Balfour remains committed to the success of Georgia Gwinnett College and is excited to see what GGC achieves next! 
"Senator Balfour with staff members of The Globe"
(Photo Credit: Laura Walsh)

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