Armstrong State University cut the ribbon Thursday on its new Liberty Center building on West Memorial Drive, to the delight of community and state leaders.
“This is a great thing for our city. We’re the last city in the state of Georgia our size that doesn’t have a four-year college,” Hinesville Mayor Jim Thomas said to applause. “So today, we have a four-year college.”
Along with educating natives of Liberty County, many speakers at the ceremony, including Thomas, discussed the importance of the Fort Stewart community’s needs for local higher education as a reason for an institution like Armstrong in the downtown area.
“We have a very beautiful facility here. We have a place where our families can grow while the soldiers are deployed,” Thomas said. “Our soldiers can get further education when they get back.”
Thomas added, “So I have no doubt that our education process here in Hinesville has been immensely pushed forward by the addition of Armstrong.”
Sen. Jack Hill, R-Reidsville, said the new building was made possible only by local leadership.
“This is a great day — not only for Armstrong and not only for the university system in the state of Georgia — it’s an outstanding day for Liberty County and for Hinesville,” he said.
Before the ceremony, Armstrong President Linda Bleicken was all smiles.
“It is the culmination of dreams,” Bleicken said of finally having the ribbon cutting for the new location. “Certainly a dream that I have had for a number of years. But I will tell you that it is a culmination of the dreams of the city of Hinesville and Liberty County.”
The interim director for the Armstrong Liberty Center, Dorothy Kempson, also was excited for the new location.
“It’s amazing to finally see it come together,” she said. “We started back in 1998. And here we are with a brand-new, beautiful building for our students. And this is a wonderful opportunity for Liberty County as well.”
The new building has eight classrooms and two biology labs. It also offers a student commons, faculty offices, tutoring nooks and study areas for students.
The new campus location will feature the university’s most popular programs in the College of Health Professions. It also will offer the core classes for students of all majors to take before they transition to the main campus in Savannah for their last two years.
Bleicken said the location of the new campus not only helps revitalize downtown Hinesville, it also creates opportunities in the community, especially for students in kindergarten through 12th grade.
Kempson added that local high-achieving high school students, including those at Bradwell Institute, which is less than a mile away, can participate in Armstrong’s “Move on When Ready” dual-enrollment program at the new location.
“So it’s a perfect location for just the community, Fort Stewart, and K-12, and also just the downtown community for Hinesville,” she said.
Naiyill Morales, is a senior majoring in biology at Armstrong and the director of the Liberty Center’s student council, part of the university’s student government association. She said she is honored to be a student when the new building opened and that the new facility will lead to student success.
“So it really adds to my college experience because we have new equipment, new facilities. I don’t know, I feel like there’s no excuse to not be able to succeed because — definitely Armstrong and the community has provided us all of the tools that we need to be successful here at the Liberty Center,” Morales said. “So I would just — it’s very amazing to be a part of this.”
Classes start Jan. 11 at the center.