By Brad HaireUniversity of GeorgiaSouth Georgia students now have a closer-to-home gateway to the University of Georgia with the Jan. 31 opening of the new UGA Tifton, Ga., outreach office.The office, an extension of the UGA Office of Undergraduate Admissions, will be housed in the Rural Development Center just off Interstate-75. But it’s more than just an office with walls, said UGA President Michael F. Adams.”This is also a symbolic function of UGA’s commitment to diversity, outreach and inclusion … to reconnect the university to the state,” he said. “We are not the University of Athens or Atlanta. We are the University of Georgia. We have a statewide mission as the state’s true flagship university.”The Tifton admissions office, “though small,” he said, is another step in achieving that goal. The new office gives students in south Georgia easier access to the university.But south Georgia students don’t have to go all the way to Athens, Ga., to get a four-year degree from UGA.The Tifton campus now offers a four-year degree in agriculture science, without having to go to Athens. The new Agriscience and Environmental Systems major will be offered through the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.There are plans to expand the UGA educational opportunities on the Tifton campus.”For this campus to be all it can be, we must add academic programs,” said David Bridges, assistant CAES dean and head of the Tifton campus. “Teaching is our main mission and students our most important resource.”The first students to seek four-year UGA degrees in Tifton will begin their classes in August.Pedro Arroyo will head the Tifton admissions office. He’s been hired to spread the word to south Georgia students in high schools and two-year colleges on UGA educational opportunities.Arroyo will represent UGA at college fairs and assist counselors and prospective students with the applications and scholarship processes. He’ll coordinate alumni functions in the area, too.”This (admissions office) will help us move forward in educating Georgia all around,” said John Hunt, a University System of Georgia regent and Tifton businessman.The Tifton outreach office is the second off-campus recruiting and admissions office UGA has established. The first opened in DeKalb County last year.