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College merger now a reality

After 13 months of preparation, the effort to consolidate Alabama Southern Community College, Faulkner State Community College and Jefferson Davis Community College has come to fruition.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission On Colleges voted December 6 to approve the consolidation of the three institutions. The Alabama Community College System Board of Trustees then unanimously signed on the final line to move forward with the development of the new Coastal Alabama Community College.

On January 11, the hours of planning and preparation from employees of all three institutions was put into effect.

“Each of the colleges has been proudly serving its community for more than 50 years,” Dr. Gary Branch, president of Coastal Alabama Community College, said. “This is not a new mission for our colleges; however, it is a new beginning for Coastal Alabama Community College.”

Serving more than 10,000 students, Coastal Alabama will provide more than 100 programs of study across 15 campuses and instructional sites. The Bay Minette Campus serves as the regional main campus for the new college.

“We will serve communities from the Mississippi line to the Florida line,” Branch said.

Coastal Alabama Community College was the result of a careful and deliberate decision to expand program offerings, student leadership opportunities and course availability to students in its multi-county service area.

During the past year, there have been committees with representation from all three of the previous colleges to develop policies and procedures for CACC.

Everything from a steering committee to committees for student services, instruction and academic affairs, and even technology services was developed to ensure the students’ experiences are comprehensive and beneficial to their higher education and career goals.

Nearly 400 full-time employees participated recently in the first professional development meeting for the “new” college, held on the Bay Minette Campus.

Dr. Branch welcomed all to the kick-off meeting, while Jimmy Baker, Acting Chancellor for the Alabama Community College System, and Al Thompson, Vice President of the Alabama Community College System Board of Trustees, brought greetings and congratulations to the group.

During the meeting, employees heard updates from various departments at the College during a working lunch, and then all attendees broke into small groups with their colleagues for the opportunity to network and to familiarize themselves with the various units of the college.

“Together, we will continue providing students across south Alabama with an affordable and accessible higher education experience like none other while expanding workforce development opportunities for our students and our communities.” Branch said. “We are ready.”