MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Trustees of the state’s community college system on Wednesday approved the merger of three south Alabama colleges into one regional campus.

The Alabama Community College Board of Trustees unanimously approved the consolidation of Faulkner State Community College, Alabama Southern Community College and Jefferson Davis Community College. The new multi-campus institution will be known as Coastal Alabama Community College.

While the proposed consolidation was met with trepidation by some, Faulkner President Gary Branch praised the move Wednesday to the board.

Branch said it would improve course offerings to students and help the colleges that have struggled with finances and enrollment.

“It’s advantageous for students,” Branch told the board.

The Alabama Commission on Higher Education approved the merger earlier last week. The plan must now be submitted to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. If approved, the consolidation will take place sometime in 2017.

The trustees last year voted to consolidate seven colleges into two regional institutions in an effort to save money and reduce duplications. The consolidation of the south Alabama college is the first to move forward.

The consolidation plan was one of the first major actions of the new board created to oversee the state’s 25 community colleges and technical schools. Alabama lawmakers in 2015 voted to remove the community college system from the oversight of the state Board of Education and give it to a new board appointed by the governor, similar to a university board of trustees.

VIAThe Associated Press
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