ALBANY, GA (WALB) - The first president of the new Albany State University was officially installed Friday afternoon. The university held an investiture ceremony for Dr. Arthur Dunning.
In his address, Dunning spoke about the importance of higher education and called the merger between ASU and Darton a gift and an opportunity to create a true college atmosphere in Albany.
Students say they were happy to be a part of the historic day.
It was certainly a ceremony to remember as Albany State University and Darton State College moved a step closer to becoming one. This made a pivotal time for higher education in Albany.
A standing ovation was given as Dr. Arthur Dunning was introduced as the 9th president of Albany State University.
"Today truly is a landmark day," said Chancellor Hank Huckaby.
A new era unfolded with a new leader.
"The right leader at the right time," said Chairman Kessel Stelling, Jr.
In Friday's speech, Dr. Dunning spoke of his childhood and memories with his father who was a high school principal.
He went on to speak about the importance of higher education.
"I'm deeply passionate about that. We aren't going to do this very well unless we educate more people beyond high school. I'm determined, I'm passionate about it and it's necessary," said Dr. Dunning.
Dunning concluded with remarks about a topic too familiar.
The university is now only months away from consolidating with Darton State College.
Dunning said the decision is now in the hands of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
"We think we have an excellent prospectus so we expect to be successful with it, said Dr. Dunning.
Students, faculty, and members of the community attended the ceremony.
One student says he is optimistic about the merger.
"I'm looking forward to all the great things that we are supposed to be getting along with the merger," said Damielle Douglas. "I'm looking forward to the new buildings, the new college and just great things about being an even bigger HBCU here in Georgia."
The two schools will consolidate once their proposed prospectus is accepted by of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
"It think it was just another great moment that we have had here at our school. This is my first time seeing a president being investitured and so it was a great experience and something I will probably never forget," said Douglas.
The new university will be the largest in southwest Georgia with close to 9,000 students.