Dunning touts college merger plan

Dunning touts college merger plan
Dr. Art Dunning
Joel Redding
Joel Redding

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - The recent announcement of the merger of Albany State University and Darton College surprised many people, but ASU's President Dr. Art Dunning, says there is a specific merger plan in place.

At a luncheon showcasing Albany State University to South Georgia's congressional delegation, Dr. Art Dunning told leaders the merger process is going smoothly. "We won't be flying blind."

The Board of Regents passed on a blueprint for how the merger should proceed with nearly 1,000 items to be checked off. "So they have a template.  They have learned a lot of things so they can tell you very clearly what works and those things we need to pay close attention to and where the challenges are."

Challenges such as how to handle faculty promotions and tenure... or where the nursing program will reside... are items that are unique to the Darton-ASU merger.

President Dunning says all stakeholders will have a voice. "We will have two committees with 20 people from Darton, and 20 people from ASU. They will provide the leadership and the executive oversight of this process."

Dr. Dunning says the committee will include faculty, administrators, and students. Alumni, business owners, and other concerned citizens will have a voice... although it's not clear if it will be on this committee. "In the process as we move through the consolidation we will make all the arrangements for those groups to be engaged in the process as well."

Senator Johnny Isakson's South Georgia Director toured ASU today and said the Senator is keeping a close eye on the merger. "You can take the good out of the strengths of both the campuses and blend them together and come out with an awesome institution here in southwest Georgia," said Joel  Redding. 

And creating one "awesome" institution is Dr. Dunning's goal. "It's a complicated process when you begin to merge institutions and all over the state it has been a process where you have to work carefully and closely together to make it work."

The consolidation will be the seventh in the University System in the past few years. It is the first merger involving a Historically Black University.

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