Remaining True to Its Mission: Georgia Highlands College

Access to an affordable college degree geared toward a career.

Floyd Junior College, Floyd College, Georgia Highlands College – although the name has changed over the years, the mission of the college has remained true to its formation over 50 years ago: access to an affordable college degree geared toward a career.

When David B. McCorkle was appointed as the first college president in 1970, the college had 19 faculty members who taught 545 students on a single 233-acre campus in Rome on U.S. Highway 27.

Decades later, GHC holds the second-highest enrollment among state colleges in Georgia, with more than 100 faculty members teaching more than 5,000 students across northwest Georgia at multiple sites. GHC also holds the second-highest economic impact among state colleges in Georgia, with a regional impact of nearly $170 million.

Four presidents have led the college over the last 50 years, and it’s currently headed by Interim President Dana Nichols. The GHC motto for many years has stressed to students, faculty, and staff to “take charge.”

Throughout its 50-year history, GHC has done just that. In the early 70s, the community called upon the college to create degree programs specific to area career needs. Programs including training paraprofessionals seeking careers in the nearby Georgia School for the Deaf, establishing a Regional Police Academy, and training the next generation of writers, publishers, and journalists with a direct link to the Georgia Press Association.

In the late 80s, GHC was chosen by the University System of Georgia to be one of the first colleges in the state to implement technology as a foundation for higher education learning with one of the very first computer literacy programs.

The college soon after added a dental hygiene program in the 90s to add to its healthcare offerings alongside nursing. In 1991, every nursing program graduate passed their licensure exam on the first attempt, starting a trajectory of near-perfect pass rates for nursing graduates for state exams for many years to come.

During the early 2000s, GHC expanded to multiple new sites and an ever-growing list of programs and paths for sought-after degrees.

Today, the college continues to innovate and expand students’ options for “taking charge” of their future at GHC. The college now has over 40 areas of study with associate degree and bachelor’s degree options both in the classroom and online.

Building information modeling management is one of the newest bachelor’s degrees at GHC and is set to begin in spring 2022.

After working with business leaders and partnering with local industry leaders, GHC is working to meet the need for proficiency in the digital skills in the building and construction industry – one of the fast-growing sectors with high-paying careers.

As a part of GHC’s collaboration with industry leaders, GHC will offer training on various software platforms at no additional cost to the students. Graduates will also complete their degree with several sought-after industry certificates, such as the SDS2 Estimator Certification, which teaches model-based estimating for realistic cost expectations.

In a recent Forbes article, it was estimated that “65% of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in completely new job types that don’t yet exist.” Forbes also noted that GHC’s new program is one of the few in the country helping to “solve the construction labor shortage through ingenuity.”

Additional recent bachelor’s programs at GHC also aim to meet rising career needs with a career-focused curriculum, like GHC’s bachelor’s in logistics and supply chain management.

Vendors and purchasing, materials and warehousing, production and inventory control management – the business behind the business has become one of the most important aspects of nearly every type of company in the country.

The logistics and supply chain management bachelor’s takes a multifaceted approach in giving graduates of GHC’s program the skills they need to excel in the quickly expanding world of efficient logistics and supply chain operations.

At GHC, faculty are mindful of the skills employers need – such as time management, critical thinking, problem- solving, communication, leadership, and collaboration – but the faculty also work to “bridge the gap between textbook concepts and real-world practice.”

Other programs in rising fields include film, healthcare management, entrepreneurship, and many more.

In an effort to provide more programs like this, GHC reorganized its academic areas into schools with a clear focus on innovative curriculum and local workforce needs. Those areas are the School of Business and Professional Studies, School of Health Sciences, School of Humanities, School of Social Sciences and Education, and School of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics).

To learn more about GHC, please visit for more information about any of GHC’s programs.