Regents Approve GPC's Bachelor's Degrees

05/10/2011
Contact: Beverly James
Phone: 678-891-2686
Fax: 678-891-2966
Author: Beverly James

For Immediate Release

After providing outstanding education at the two-year level for nearly 50 years, Georgia Perimeter College will soon begin offering select bachelor’s degrees. 

At Tuesday’s Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia meeting the Board approved GPC’s expanded mission and the college’s first two bachelor’s degrees: a bachelor of arts in Sign Language Interpreting and a bachelor of science in Health Informatics.

“While the college’s name will not change at this time, its mission has been expanded to those of similar state colleges in Georgia,” said GPC President Dr. Anthony S. Tricoli. “Our reputation as an outstanding, comprehensive two-year institution in the Southeast and our rigorous general education curriculum were key in gaining approval to move our work to a higher level.

“While our mission has now been expanded to include bachelor’s degrees, we shall remain the state’s largest access institution, providing an open door to educational opportunity for students who can benefit from a GPC experience.  Now students can complete both the associate and bachelor’s without leaving their local campus.”

GPC’s sign language interpreting program, already the largest in the state, has been around for more than 30 years. The new degree offering will give students more time to further enhance their skills, said Damita Boyd, coordinator of the sign language program.

“We have known for awhile that what we have been asking students to do in two to three years has been nothing short of monumental.  They are learning a new language, developing fluency in it, learning to navigate new cultural norms, learning the business and practice of interpreting, and simultaneously having to develop a broad base of knowledge so that virtually any information they receive can be processed in two languages,” Boyd said. “The Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, which certifies interpreters at the national level, has recognized the need for interpreters to be educated at the baccalaureate level; and as of July 2012, candidates for certification will be required hold a BA degree or higher.”  A year ago the GPC Sign Language Interpreting program won the nation’s top award in this field, The Sorenson Award.

Health Informatics is the use of computer technologies in healthcare to store, share, transmit and analyze clinical knowledge and data. “GPC is well equipped to offer a bachelor’s degree in health informatics. We have excellent faculty in health science, business, and computer science that have expertise in this area and are qualified to teach at the baccalaureate level,” said Diane White, dean of health sciences. “This is a monumental day for GPC receiving the opportunity to offer four-year degrees and everyone here should be very proud.”

According to White, there is a growing need in the workforce industry for baccalaureate prepared health informatics specialists, as more health industries are looking at sustainability and managing large amounts of confidential data. “It has been recently reported that the United States will need 130,000 to 200,000 baccalaureate health informatics specialists within the next five to 10 years,” she said. The USG closely works with the Department of Labor in educating students for high-demand industries, and health informatics is definitely one of those industries, she added.

“We have arrived at this place today because of the work of our outstanding faculty…period!  They have created the curriculum and atmosphere that challenge our students to think critically, creatively and thoroughly,” Tricoli said.

When asked about future BA degrees, Dr Tricoli indicated, “we (the college) want to see how we do with our first two degrees; but our faculty members have already suggested several ideas.  I look forward to working with our faculty and administrators to package our proposals in a way that the BOR will receive them favorably.”  He concluded by saying “Once again, our students are the benefactors of the great collaboration that exists between the faculty, staff and administrators at GPC.”

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Georgia Perimeter College, the third largest institution of the University System of Georgia, serves more than 25,000 students through four campuses and several sites in metro Atlanta. For additional information, visit www.gpc.edu.