SAVANNAH – The Board of Regents, the governing body of the University System of Georgia, Tuesday approved the name Georgia Highlands College as the new moniker for Floyd College, a two-year unit of the system.

Approval came at the board’s monthly meeting held at Armstrong Atlantic State University in Savannah. The change was prompted by the college’s expansion beyond Floyd County, the community for which it was originally named. Floyd president J. Randy Pierce announced last month at a news conference in Rome that he would present Georgia Highlands as the recommendation to the board at its April meeting.

Highlands is the second name submitted to the regents. After months of focus groups and meetings with community leaders, the college first planned to submit the name Etowah in February.

But a request by organizations with similar names in Cartersville and public reaction to the name from some community members in Rome caused its withdrawal. Pierce then invited the public to comment via e- and postal mail. A number of names were considered during the month-and-a-half-long open process that followed. Georgia Highlands emerged as the one most appropriate for the institution and its service area.

“I look forward to this exciting time in the history of the college, as we expand to meet the needs for accessible higher education in Northwest Georgia,” said Pierce. “As we move forward, we face a burgeoning population in the Atlanta metropolitan area, including points to the northwest. We’re proud to be able to serve this growth for the betterment of Georgia and its citizens.”

The new name represents a broad area of North Georgia. The Highlands region is considered one of four travel regions of the state – the others being Coastal, Piedmont and Plains. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources also divides the state into five physiographic regions based on physical geography. The college is located in the Ridge and Valley Province, which consists of a series of parallel valleys separated by ridges. Elevations range from 700 to 1,600 feet above sea level. The Ridge and Valley Province abuts both the Blue Ridge Province to the Northeast and the Appalachian Plateau in the Northwestern corner of the state. The Highlands travel region incorporates all these upland regions featuring rolling hills, mountains and valleys.

Floyd College has already begun initial phases of transitioning the name. Its newest facility, now nearing completion on Route 20 in Cartersville, will open under the new name in time for the fall semester.

The transition should be complete by August 1, when the institution will officially become Georgia Highlands College.