What’s New at Georgia Southern? Insights on the Consolidation with Armstrong University from President Dr. Jaimie L. Hebert

Mollee D. Harper

Thursday, September 14th, 2017

Georgia CEO presents this special profile on Georgia Southern University and its current President Dr. Jaimie L. Hebert, who just started into his second year at the helm. During our time together, Dr. Hebert provides insights into his first year, and details about the ongoing consolidation with Armstrong University in Savannah.

The Consolidation

On Jan. 11, 2017, the University System of Georgia Board of Regents voted to consolidate Armstrong State University and Georgia Southern University. The consolidated university will be named Georgia Southern University and come under the leadership of President Jaimie L. Hebert. 

Armstrong University was founded in 1935 in Savannah, Georgia, and serves more than 7,000 students each year through more than 100 degree programs. The University is located at 11935 Abercorn Street, Savannah, Georgia, which will become the new Savannah campus for Georgia Southern University. 

An implementation committee comprised of students, faculty, staff and community members from Armstrong State University and Georgia Southern University are hard at work to complete the consolidation this next year.  The tentative timeline for the first entering class of this new university will be in fall of 2018.

Dr. Hebert offered, “My entire career I have been involved with comprehensive institutions that have a blended focus on doctoral research. I was at Sam Houston University prior. I was aware of Georgia Southern University through my professional affiliations. When it became available, I looked into it. And low and behold, it was not only a solid fit for me professionally, but also a great fit for me personally. Georgia Southern is a great university on the precipice of launching forward with tremendous growth.” 

Dr. Hebert described, “In the first 100 days of any presidency you really want to listen and get the heart pulse from the students, faculty, staff and alum. I knew it was a special place, but it is even more special than I could have ever imagined after really listening during my first 100 days. There are deep traditions and culture here.” 

“We have some wonderful construction projects we are continuing and new construction we are launching including an interdisciplinary classroom building that is going up now. We are also building a new engineering building here. And, we have a new health professions building going up currently at Armstrong State University.” 

Dr. Hebert shared, “Our initiatives for this next year will be focused on the implementation of the strategic consolidation plan with Armstrong State University. We have rolled out a new academic plan which includes housing three college at our Armstrong campus because we feel like they have a bigger potential for growth in that area. Those three colleges are the Waters College of Health Professions, Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health, and the College of Education.”

Dr. Hebert described, “The decision to consolidate came from the University System of Georgia. We are not the first consolidation and I don’t think we’ll be the last. The University System of Georgia has considered a consolidation plan for a number of years. It’s really a matter of reducing costs but also providing a broader access of curriculum for students in the state of Georgia.”

He continued, “Both Georgia Southern and Armstrong State University share a common vision for providing more access and a broader array of programs that is responsive to workforce needs in the region.” 

“We have completed the entire prospectus and have submitted that to our accrediting body. That includes all of our academic plans. The two universities are now working to lay the foundation for the new Georgia Southern University.” 

Dr. Hebert added, “Armstrong State University will be called the Armstrong Campus of Georgia Southern University. That was one of the first decisions that was made by the implementation committee. We wanted to be clear that it would be built on the traditions of both universities. All of those traditions are now part of this effort.” 

“As this unfolds people will have questions. We have been very transparent in our responses to everyone. Our touchstone throughout the process has been students and student success. A close second, is our focus on how we design a new institution for economic growth throughout Southeast Georgia. I know the plan we have in place will help all industries and all people move forward.” 

"Georgia Southern University is a special place and this job is a real blessing for me both personally and professionally. One of the most remarkable things I found since I came here are the people and the culture. You find this at our current campus and at Armstrong’s Savannah and Liberty campuses, as well. Despite the growth over time, both have become large scale while maintaining a small feel. I really believe that is a result of the people. We are dedicated to preserve that affinity for higher education as we make this transition and continue to grow.” 

Dr. Hebert concluded, “It’s an exciting time. Most people work their entire careers in higher education and never get to do this. It’s an exciting opportunity if embrace it. People at both universities feel this way and have done everything they can to make this a positive change.” 

Inside Georgia Southern Universit

Georgia Southern University is the state’s largest and most comprehensive center of higher education south of Atlanta. Georgia Southern offers 118 degree programs in bachelor’s master’s and doctoral degrees, serving 20,673 students each year from all around the world. The University is known for its affordability and outstanding online bachelor’s programs, and features 200-plus student organizations, Division 1 athletics and state-of-the-art residence halls and campus facilities. The main Georgia Southern campus is located on 900 acres in Statesboro, GA with more than 100 buildings including a Performing Arts Center, Planetarium, Museum, the Center for Wildlife Education and the Garden of the Coastal Plain.

President Bio

Jaimie L. Hebert, Ph.D., became the 13th president of Georgia Southern University on July 1, 2016. Prior to leading Georgia Southern, Dr. Hebert served as the provost and vice president for academic affairs at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas, where he spent the majority of his academic career. He got his start at Sam Houston State, where he was an assistant professor of mathematical sciences at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina. Dr. Hebert earned his Bachelor, Master’s and Ph.D. degrees in statistics from the University of Louisiana – Lafayette. 

For more information on the Georgia Southern University at their website at:  http://www.georgiasouthern.edu/.