Key GOP State Senator in Georgia Calls for Merging Historically Black Universities With Predominantly White Educational Institutions

The higher education system in Georgia is facing a budget shortfall of $200 million. A high-ranking GOP state senator has proposed that to save costs, the state should consider merging two historically black universities with nearby predominantly white institutions.

Seth Harp, chair of the powerful Higher Education Committee in the state Senate, believes that significant savings can be achieved by merging administrative functions and eliminating duplicative academic programs.

Harp proposes that historically black Savannah State University merge with Armstrong Atlantic State University. Savannah State has about 3,000 students, 95 percent of whom are black. Armstrong Atlantic State University has about 6,000 students, two thirds of whom are white.

Harp also suggests merging historically black Albany State University with two-year Darton College. Albany State enrolls 4,000 students, almost all of whom are black. At nearby Darton College whites make up 55 percent of the 4,700-member student body. Blacks are 42 percent of the students at Darton College.

State senator Vincent Fort, an African-American Democrat from Atlanta who has served on the faculty at Morehouse College and Morris Brown College, opposes the Harp plan. He told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “Black schools serve a purpose of offering not only programs but an atmosphere conducive to black students graduating. The challenge is not only getting African-American students in college but keeping them in.”