Battling over a 100+ year educational monopoly

September 21, 2010 at 11:59 am 6 comments

When the University System of Georgia was created, the designers aimed to economize.  Teaching medicine is expensive, so we’ll do it in only one publicly funded institution in the state.  Teaching engineering is expensive, so Georgia Tech was the only publicly funded engineering school in the state (and had been since it was created in 1885).  Since then, other USG schools were allowed to offer engineering programs, as long as they didn’t overlap with Georgia Tech.

Now, the University of Georgia (UGa) has proposed to offer the same core engineering degrees that Georgia Tech has, and Tech is fighting it (below).  Even if I wasn’t here, this would be a fascinating battle.  Because of this separation of concerns, UGa can’t have engineering, and Georgia Tech can’t have an education school, and neither campus can have a medical school. Tech’s president is arguing that the economizing still makes sense.

This separation has always been a headache for me, as someone who bridges CS and Education. UGa has great education researchers, who are 45-90 minutes away, depending on traffic.  That’s enough of a gap that it’s hard to build collaborations. It will be interesting to see what happens next.

Since 2005, UGA has offered degrees in five engineering disciplines, none of which overlap our own degree programs in any meaningful way. UGA is now proposing an expansion of its program by adding mechanical engineering, civil engineering and electrical engineering. Last week, after considerable debate, the Regents voted to allow the UGA proposal to move forward for consideration at its October Board meeting.

We are, by any measure, one of the world’s premier institutions for engineering education and research. The state legislature and the Board of Regents have been instrumental in that success, with investments in alignment with institutional strengths. To try and duplicate academic programs as expensive as engineering at a time when the University System has taken more than $600 million in cuts to its state budget appropriation over the past two years is not the best use of scarce resources.

via GT | President’s Letters & Bulletins.

Entry filed under: Uncategorized. Tags: , , .

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6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Rob St. Amant  |  September 22, 2010 at 9:12 am

    I’ve heard stories (though perhaps they’re just rumors) about comparable turf battles between the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University. Should NCSU have a Ph.D. program in computer science when there’s already one at Chapel Hill? (The answer turned out to be yes.) Should Chapel Hill have an engineering college? Should NCSU have a business school?

  • 2. Briana Morrison  |  September 22, 2010 at 11:44 am

    GT will most likely have a friend in SPSU in this battle. Now that GT has “permitted” SPSU to offer “traditional” engineering (EE, ME, CE) as night programs, SPSU doesn’t want any more engineering in the state either. And Georgia Southern is in line right behind UGA asking for engineering degrees. On the other side, SPSU is moving forward asking for Science Education degrees, even though we don’t have a school of education. And Kennesaw is none too pleased with that idea.
    I had heard once that Georgia was the only state with a single public institution offering engineering degrees, which always seemed strange to me. Given the entrance requirements to get into Tech, what happens to the 2nd and 3rd tier students that want to be engineers? Are they forced to go out of state? At least now SPSU can offer those students in state tuition AND an engineering degree.

    • 3. Aaron Lanterman  |  September 30, 2010 at 2:29 am

      To be frank – we have the 2nd and 3rd tier students here at Tech too…

  • 4. Lisa Kaczmarczyk  |  September 22, 2010 at 8:30 pm

    I think this happens all around the country. When I lived in Oregon and was working on an MS, there was a similar situation between the Univ. of Oregon and Oregon State U. about programs. They weren’t supposed to have overlap programs in specific areas. In order to allow both to have computer X programs, the programs at each school had slightly different names and somewhat different requirements. It all seemed a bit silly to a graduate student.

  • 5. Robert Talbert  |  September 23, 2010 at 9:30 pm

    Similar situation here in Indiana between Purdue and IU. Engineering is at Purdue, and IU has some programs Purdue doesn’t have, along with the medical and law schools. A difference here is that there are joint branch campuses for the two universities — Indiana U-Purdue U-Indianapolis (IUPUI), and two other regional ones. IUPUI has a separate engineering department that offers a Purdue University degree. I work fairly closely with the IUPUI engineering people and they are an outstanding bunch, but the administrative complexity of the arrangement is pretty ridiculous at times.

  • 6. Mark Guzdial  |  November 10, 2010 at 1:44 pm

    In case anyone is interested, UGa won:


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