:Staff Photo: Sue Ann Kuhn-Smith - Dr. Anthony S. Tricoli, president of Georgia Perimeter Collee, gives the keynote address at Thursday's Newton Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting.
MANSFIELD -- Anthony S. Tricoli, president of Georgia Perimeter College, touted the two-year college's growth and unique offerings for students as the keynote speaker at the Covington-Newton County Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting, held Thursday evening at Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center in Mansfield.
Since opening in 2007, GPC's Newton campus off Ga. Highway 11 has seen enrollment growth not only from year to year, but from one semester to another, with total enrollment now at more than 2,800, he said. More than 27,000 students are enrolled at GPC's five campuses -- other locations are Alpharetta, Clarkston, Decatur and Lawrenceville.
GPC provides undergraduate credit and noncredit programs for students who want to complete an associate's degree, transfer to a senior college or university, prepare for a career or enhance certain skills.
Tricoli said the college's economic impact from its five campuses totaled more than $500 million last year alone. The college employs 6,822 full- and part-time employees.
Tricoli said that half of all college students attend a two-year college like GPC. Seventy-one percent of GPC's students successfully transfer to a four-year institution, and GPC graduates outscore native juniors, or those who have been at a four-year institution since their freshman year, at every institution they transfer to, Tricoli said.
More than 80 Newton students participate in GPC's dual enrollment program, and 13 students have graduated with an associate degree before graduating high school, he said.
The school's online enrollment has increased from 1,500 five years ago to 10,001 today, and with the new Military Outreach Program to support veterans in obtaining a post-secondary education, Tricoli estimated that number could quickly double.
In addition, GPC offers a transfer admissions guarantee program, called TAG, partnering with 49 four-year universities to ensure that students that meet certain requirements will be accepted to those institutions. Tricoli said 200 students on the Newton campus have signed TAG agreements.
With business administration the most popular major at GPC, Tricoli has partnered with Georgia Southwestern State University to develop a three-year business administration bachelor's degree program.
He has also instigated sustainability education at GPC with the formation of the Southeastern Institute for Sustainable Living and Environmental Studies, which will open in February.
GPC also partners with Georgia Piedmont College on its Green Technologies Academy to prepare students for green-related careers.
Just this semester, GPC's Newton campus began offering nursing classes, and there are plans to expand the college's film studies program, Tricoli said.
Newton is the only college campus in the state to have 100 percent smart technology classrooms, he added.
Tricoli thanked elected officials and private donors who helped make the Newton campus a reality.
"We had a distinct vision when we came to Newton ... We took a risk together and we jumped in with both feet, working together and agreeing never to accept mediocrity," he said.
In 2011, Tricoli was honored as Pacesetter of the Year by the National Council for Marketing and PR. When he took over the reins at GPC in 2006, the college was set to close a campus to accommodate a new school in Gwinnett County, potentially losing 7,000 students coupled with a $30 million budget reduction and layoff of more than 300 employees.
Under Tricoli's leadership, no positions were lost and enrollment has jumped from 13,400 in 2007 to more than 27,000.
GPC enrolls more freshmen than the state's three largest universities combined and transfers more students to Georgia's four-year universities than any other institution.
Staff Reporter Michelle Floyd contributed to this story.