College casts eyes to Skidaway Island

From the The Brunswick News

The coastal ecology program at College of Coastal Georgia may have new opportunities opening after the University System of Georgia Board of Regents made Skidaway Institute of Oceanography a part of the University of Georgia.

The move, which will take effect July 1, was part of Chancellor Hank Huckaby's efforts to streamline the university system's operations.

The Skidaway Institute at Savannah, which is an autonomous unit of the university system, has 65 employees who conduct oceanographic research on a regional and global scale. It also provides research-based educational opportunities to students from other university system institutions and from around the world.

"The new alignment between the institute and the university will streamline operations and enhance the research efforts of both Skidaway and UGA's excellent marine and coastal programs," said Houston Davis, the university system's chief academic officer and executive vice chancellor.

Aligning the institute with UGA made sense because of the current research and partnerships already in place at Skidaway, Davis said.

"As we look to the future, there certainly are opportunities for other institutional and programmatic partnerships if appropriate," Davis added.

That sounds great for College of Coastal Georgia, college spokesman John Cornell said.

"We definitely want to grow the (coastal ecology) program," Cornell said. "One of the reasons we chose that program (to implement) was our location on the coast."

Cornell said proximity to beaches, marshes and other coastal habitat positions the college well to become a destination institution for students who want to study coastal ecology.

Having UGA, the university system's flagship, in control of Skidaway will be a boon for students and professors

Although much of the research at Skidaway is at the graduate level, Cornell is optimistic that students in the College of Coastal Georgia undergraduate program will benefit.

"It can only help our access there," Cornell said. "Our students and our professors are going to be able to take advantage of their work."

Having a good relationship with Skidaway would be a nice addition to the already thriving relationships the college has with environmental organizations such as the Coastal Resources Division of the state Department of Natural Resources, the University of Georgia Marine Extension Service and others, Cornell said.

"This is a very positive thing from our point of view," Cornell said.

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Release Date: 1/15/2013
Source: The Brunswick News

By MICHAEL HALL