February 2, 2009
Albany-- Albany colleges could be in for some major changes as the state looks for ways to save money.
The chairman of the state Senate Education Committee wants to combine historically black colleges with nearby colleges. That would mean Albany State University would merge with Darton College. Now another proposal would change the face of Darton and a third Albany school.
It's a hot topic on Darton's campus and student David Inyang already has his mind made up. "It's just not a good idea," said Inyang.
He says there are just too many questions. "One issue is the tossup idea of whether credits would be able to be transferred to four-year institutions," said Inyang.
Those questions are circling after a draft proposal from the "Tough Choices or Tough Times" working group in Georgia. Under direction from Governor Perdue, the group reviewed a national report called Tough Choices or Tough Times.
They came up with recommendations for Georgia. One would place 2-year schools like Darton under the direction of the Technical College System.
"Darton has built an identity and namebrand if you will over the last 42 years," said Darton Professor Roger Marietta, "To take that all away with an executive order, is a big mistake. It could be a tragic mistake in a lot of ways."
It would mean Darton would merge with Albany Technical College. Faculty, parents and students are fired up at just the possibility. "I think what's happened is that we've had a working group that didn't have any input from customers which are our students and without that they're operating on fallacious assumptions," said Marietta.
"It's certainly a challenging document, but these are challenging times," said Dr. Anthony Parker.
Albany Tech President Dr. Anthony Parker says with just a draft proposal on the table, it's too early to speculate on what a merger would mean. "I haven't seen a response from either of the CEO's from the two systems but I do have confidence and faith in them that they'll come up with a proposal that they can present to the Executive Branch, the Governor and others that they can review," said Dr. Parker.
Many school leaders have already written the Governor. He's written back saying no formal recommendations have been made but he believes there are efficiencies that can be found by the analysis of both school systems.
"As students I think we should be the leaders and try and stand up because we are the representatives for the future and the college represents the student and we represent the college," said Darton student and SGA member Jeriel Mitchell.
Students have already begun a campaign. "I've sent emails to representatives. I plan to write the Board of Regents," said Inyang. They want to make sure their current school and future alma mater stays as is.
Some of the students and SGA members will do more than write letters and send emails. They plan to hold demonstrations on campus to show their unhappiness even if it is just a draft proposal.
That proposal to merge Albany State and Darton is also getting a lot of opposition.