Two year schools get mixed results -, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Two year schools get mixed results

Albany-- One South Georgia college is denied the chance to become a four-year institution, but another gets the go ahead. The University System Chancellor told the president of Darton College the school won't be allowed four-year status. But Abraham Baldwin College will expand at least two programs.

Last fall, the Board of Regents told all of the state's public two-year colleges, like Darton, they could apply for four-year status. Darton leaders knew that the largest demand for jobs in this area were in health care and teaching. So, they focused on turning those specialties into four-year degrees. But Wednesday, the school was stopped in its tracks.

Since Darton College doesn't offer four-year programs, students like Jborta Estaban are forced to leave the school and finish elsewhere. "Then I would have to make another big change like moving to another city, finding an apartment, applying to another college. I'm already accepted here so all I would have to do is keep on going for two more years."

Estaban wants to become a foreign language teacher, one of the programs Darton hoped to expand if approved for four-year status. College Relations Director Caroline Fielding says math, science, and foreign language teachers are desperately needed in southwest Georgia and so are health care workers, the other program Darton wants to expand.

But a phone call dashed Darton's hope for four-year status. "The President wanted to speak to the Chancellor just one more time, to try to convince him of the importance of this to our community. The Chancellor confirmed his earlier decision that we could not submit a proposal to become a four year college," said Director of College Relations Caroline Fielding.

But Abraham Baldwin College in Tifton received better news from the Board of Regents. ABAC got the ahead to develop four year programs in golf turf management and diversified agriculture. President Tom Call says the programs aren't offered many places and the college is ready to teach, without spending a lot of money.

 "We have a farm and we have a golf course, so we have the facilities," Call said. "The Board of Regents wants to make sure the programs are necessary and not causing any conflicts. They will serve the students and taxpayers of the state of Georgia and keep with the mission of the schools."

Now, ABAC must start a lengthy process to expand its four-year programs - a tedious opportunity that Darton College might not get for many years. Darton College leaders say they will continue to grow and improve the two year programs.

As to why the Board of Regents didn't approve Darton's four year status, we can only speculate. The Chancellor's Office didn't return our calls.

Abraham Baldwin hopes to have final approval for expanding its golf course turf management and diversified agriculture programs by the end of the year.