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POSTED: October 13, 2010 10:16 a.m.
Photo by Seraine Page/

Linda Bleicken, president of Armstrong Atlantic State University, speaks to Hinesville rotarians Tuesday.

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Armstrong Atlantic State University has been going strong for 75 years, and if the college’s recent jump in enrollment and newly added programs are any indication, the best is yet to come, according to its president, Linda Bleicken.
Bleicken on Tuesday spoke with Hinesville Rotary Club members at Western Sizzlin' about the university’s 75th anniversary celebration, the addition of new programs and Armstrong’s center in Liberty County.  
With a PowerPoint presentation, Bleicken highlighted AASU’s anniversary festivities and outlined the university’s history, starting with its founding in Savannah.
“It was founded during one of the worst times in history,” Bleicken said of the school’s ability to endure rough patches.
She also touched on new program growth and an increase in student enrollment at the Savannah and Liberty County locations.
In May, the first group of doctoral physical therapy students graduated from the Savannah campus’ doctorate program, Bleicken said.
In 2002, the university opened the AACU Liberty Center in Liberty County, where area residents can earn degrees without commuting to Savannah.
“We have a fairly strong presence here in Hinesville as well. We offer classes here, some to active military students,” she said.
The top major at the center in Hinesville is pre-nursing with 73 students enrolled, Bleicken said.
The Liberty Center has 431 students enrolled this fall in various programs, and internship opportunities also are available.
“We are very much a part of the coastal community,” she said of the Liberty Center.
During a marketing study last year, surveyors found that most area residents didn’t know the campus exists, Bleicken said, which is why she’s increasing marketing efforts in the region.
The enrollment rate for the Liberty County campus dropped slightly from last year, but Bleicken chalks it up to the uncertainty of the expansion plans.
“We are here, and we intend to stay here,” she said.
Bleicken acknowledged the expansion plans were halted last year after state legislators cut funding for Georgia universities and colleges. But she said state revenue is expected to increase once the economy regains strength.
She also said 46 percent more veterans are using their GI Bill benefits at the Liberty Center this year than in 2009.
The AASU president also showed photos of students participating in community activities during September’s “Day of Service.” As she talked about the university’s commitment to improving the community, photos of alumni and students working side by side to clean up trash and fill food baskets for needy families filtered across the screen.
“We take great pride of what we give back to the community,” Bleicken said.
Before the meeting adjourned, rotary president and Armstrong alum Deidre Howell gave Bleicken a certificate of recognition and thanked her for attending the club’s meeting.
For information on enrolling in classes at the Liberty Center, go to www.armstrong.edu.

 

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