Citizens group pushing to make Darton four year school - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Citizens group pushing to make Darton four year school

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By Karen Cohilas - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) – There is a major push underway to move Darton College from a 2-year school to a four year institution.   It's a grassroots effort from business leaders who say there is an economic as well as an educational need for another four year school in Albany.

Enrollment at Darton College has increased by 119% over the past 10 years.  Several new buildings have opened over the last few years, and the board of regents just approved two new dorms for the school.  The only thing lacking, some say, are four year degrees.

There is no denying that Darton College is growing by leaps and bounds.  In the past year, a new dorm, new allied health building and state of the art student center have been built on campus. 

That's where we found second year student Jaquez Westmoreland.  "Look at it," he said.  "It's a place that you want to be.  It's a nice environment."

But after he completes his course work this year, he'll have to leave.  He said, "I would like to be all four years here, but it's not a four year school."

But that's something Citizens for Economic Development are trying to change.  "Darton is a choice for so many students in our area, and then they have to leave to finish their four year degree," said Glenn Tennyson.  Tennyson is the co-chair of the grassroots campaign. 

He says nursing, teaching and allied health are three areas all have the demand for four year programs.  "We have a huge demand in these areas and we're losing students to other four year colleges around the state," he said.

Students like Ashley Williams.  She's enrolled in the nursing program at Darton, for now.  She said, "It's much more prestigious and you tell anyone that you're going to Darton for the nursing program and they're just like, that's a great program."

But if she wants her bachelor's degree in nursing, she'll have to go elsewhere.  She said, "You would actually have to transfer and that's the downside because I really just want to get my bachelor's and get it out of the way."

It's a stumbling block Tennyson wants to strike out for these students in an effort to help Darton College reach new heights.

The Board of Regents recognizes the tremendous economic impact Darton College has on the community, and its growth, but right now does not agree that there is a need for more four-year degrees here. 

The group is encouraging people to write the Regents to state the case for the change.     They've got a facebook page where you can find out more.

More details on Darton:

Fall enrollment for 2009 was close to 5600 students.   More than 70% of freshmen are from Dougherty or surrounding counties.    

More than 70% of registered nurses in Dougherty and Lee Counties are Darton Graduates.     The current economic impact of Darton College students is more than $70 Million a year.

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