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Institutional History, Tradition, and Setting

Georgia College & State University, Georgia's designated public liberal arts university, is located in historic Milledgeville, Georgia, less than a dozen miles from the geographic center of the state. Milledgeville was the antebellum capital of Georgia and is a center of history and culture featuring beautiful antebellum homes and historic buildings. The University enhances the town's beauty with its architectural blending of majestic buildings of red brick and white Corinthian columns. Georgia's Old Governor's Mansion, one of the finest examples of Greek revival architecture in the United States, is the founding building of the university and remains central to the university's Mission. The Milledgeville campus is complemented by additional acreage in Baldwin County with facilities for athletics, recreation, and outdoor and integrative education.

GCSU was chartered in 1889 as Georgia Normal and Industrial College. Its emphasis at the time was largely vocational, and its major task was to prepare young women for teaching or industrial careers. In 1917, in keeping with economic and cultural changes in the state, it was authorized to grant degrees, the first of which was awarded in 1921. In 1922, the institution's name was changed to Georgia State College for Women. The name was changed to Women's College of Georgia in 1961, and, when the institution became coeducational in 1967, it became Georgia College at Milledgeville. The name was later shortened to Georgia College. In August 1996, the Board of Regents approved the current name of Georgia College & State University to reflect its new mission as Georgia's Public Liberal Arts University. The University has been a unit of the University System of Georgia since the system was formed in 1932.

Former presidents of the University are Dr. J. Harris Chappell, Dr. Marvin M. Parks, Dr. J.L. Beeson, Dr. Guy H. Wells, Dr. Henry King Stanford, Dr. Robert E. Lee, Dr. J. Whitney Bunting, Dr. Edwin G. Speir, and Dr. Rosemary DePaolo. Dr. Dorothy Leland became the 10 president of Georgia College & State University on January 1, 2004.

The Mission Statement

As the state's only public liberal arts university, Georgia College & State University is committed to combining the educational experiences typical of esteemed private liberal arts colleges with the affordability of public higher education. GCSU is a residential learning community that emphasizes undergraduate education and offers selected graduate programs. The faculty is dedicated to challenging students and fostering excellence in the classroom and beyond. GCSU seeks to endow its graduates with a passion for achievement, a lifelong curiosity, and exuberance for learning.


Georgia College & State University seeks to produce graduates who are well prepared for careers or advanced study and who are instilled with exceptional qualities of mind and character. These include an inquisitive, analytical mind; respect for human diversity and individuality; a sense of civic and global responsibility; sound ethical principles; effective writing, speaking, and quantitative skills; and a healthy lifestyle.

While GCSU's faculty members are committed to community service and are creatively engaged in their fields of specialization, they focus their attention primarily on maintaining excellence in instruction and guiding students. Students are endowed with both information and values through small classes, interdisciplinary studies, and close association with the faculty and staff, both in and beyond the classroom. The GCSU experience provides lively involvement in cultural life, and service to the community. In turn, GCSU seeks to provide communities and employers with graduates who exhibit professionalism, responsibility, service, leadership, and integrity.

The Philosophy of a Public Liberal Arts University

Public liberal arts colleges and universities differ from other public higher education institutions in their size, scope, and emphasis on student centered education. They do not attempt to be all things to all people, but rather focus their efforts on providing a liberal education. They offer the intimacy and intellectual atmosphere of private liberal arts colleges but do not abandon the public mandate to meet the economic workforce needs of the state. Public liberal arts universities are usually moderate in size (generally less than the equivalent of 5,000 full-time students) and focus on exemplary undergraduate teaching and student learning.

Undergraduate programs are diverse, but the majority of degrees are awarded in the fields of arts and sciences. When professional undergraduate programs are offered, they include a heavy liberal arts foundation. The limited number of graduate programs offered at the Master's level is similarly built upon a strong liberal arts undergraduate preparation and are tied to the market economy of the state.

The Distinguishing Characteristics of a Public Liberal Arts University

Emphasis on providing the quality, values, and virtues of a private liberal arts college at a lower and more reasonable cost;

  • A highly selected undergraduate student body with a selected number of graduate programs;
  • A strong emphasis on transformative, active learning experiences in and out of the classroom;
  • A focus on student outcomes, with particular attention to the development of strong communication skills (oral and written), critical and analytical thinking skills, a broad understanding of global issues, an appreciation for diversity, an ability to integrate information across disciplines, application of knowledge, a foundation for making moral and ethical decisions, and civic responsibility.
  • A commitment to creating an intimate learning environment characterized by high quality student/faculty interactions through small classes;
  • innovative pedagogy;
  • internships and service learning experiences;
  • international study experiences;
  • faculty/student collaboration on scholarly/research projects;
  • lectures, concerts, art shows, field experiences, and senior culminating experiences;
  • A rich culture of traditions and rituals that link students with the University beyond graduation;
  • A commitment to meeting the needs of the state by producing graduates who can take their place within the workplace as leaders and thinkers;
  • Accessibility through affordability.
  • Limited number of professional and graduate master's level programs built on a liberal arts foundation.

Expectations of Students

The Georgia College & State University experience is founded on the 3 R's: Reason, Respect, and Responsibility. Based on this foundation, we expect that during their time at GCSU students will:

  • Set their own personal development goals and take responsibility for their own learning;
  • Be prepared to learn and to be intellectually challenged;
  • Strive for excellence in their studies and seek to achieve high academic expectations in all of their courses;
  • Acquire an inquisitive mind; respect for human diversity and individuality; a sense of civic and global responsibility; sound ethical principles; effective writing, speaking and quantitative skills; and a healthy lifestyle;
  • Be meaningfully engaged in and involved in the campus community;
  • Take full advantage of opportunities to develop and implement career plans;

GCSU students are expected to achieve and maintain high ideals founded on the sound principles of utilizing REASON before acting or reacting, employing RESPECT for others, for ideas, for the law, and for property, and recognizing their RESPONSIBILITY as citizens and members of the campus community.

Georgia College & State University • 231 W. Hancock St. • Milledgeville, GA 31061 • 1-800-342-0471 ; (478)445-5004 •