ALBANY, GA (WALB) - By Art Dunning, Albany State University president
At the end of this month, I will retire as president of Albany State University (ASU), a position I've held for nearly five years. I came to Albany after holding various roles in the University System of Georgia (USG), and have witnessed the resilience of this university to rebuild after a natural disaster and grow from a college to a university.
It has been an honor and privilege to serve as president of Albany State during such a pivotal time in the institution's history. Over these years, we have accomplished a lot together, and I am thankful for the support of the campus and Albany community for the commitment and dedication to this great institution.
One of my major tasks was to guide ASU through the consolidation with Darton State College. The consolidation of these institutions was built on Albany State's Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) designation and Darton's designation as an access institution. It positioned the university to reach more students, offer more programs and have a greater impact.
Change can be difficult and can take some time, but tireless efforts are continuing to be done to strengthen ASU to better serve this region and the State of Georgia.
Albany State is now a larger university that offers a range of degrees. Students can earn professional certificates in less than a year or an associate's degree in two years to obtain gainful employment. They now have an easier path to achieve a bachelor's or graduate degree without transferring to a different institution.
ASU is held to the same high standards as all of our peer institutions. Our governing body, the USG Board of Regents, expects the same performance and accountability from Albany State as it does from the 25 other system colleges and universities. Our students expect and deserve to receive the highest level of customer service, innovative academic offerings and programs that position them for success.
As I prepare to leave ASU, I'm confident that the university is on the right track to becoming a game-changing leader in higher education and a catalyst for change in this community. The momentum is here, the interest is here, and the need is here.
In order for any organization to thrive, it takes a willingness to collaborate, cooperate and leverage relationships. ASU is continuing to form partnerships and build relationships with peer institutions, civic and business organizations, supporters and alumni.
Work is also being done to reimagine our academic portfolio to meet the needs of our students, the local workforce and area citizens. The college student of today doesn't look like the college student of 20 years ago. Advanced technology and access to information have reshaped the learning environment.
Colleges and universities must be in continuous quality improvement and learning mode. We have to teach differently; ensure our business processes and classrooms keep up with technology; provide exceptional customer service, and diversify our financial portfolios.
We must be nimble, agile and open to accelerated change. Our graduates expect it. The vitality and survival of our region depend on it.
I have personally experienced how educational opportunities can create positive change in places and times when others didn't desire anything other than their norm. I've worked in the USG system for over 34 years, lived and worked in 32 countries around the world.
What I've gained through those experiences has defined who I am today and shaped my view about human connectivity, growth and development. I've witnessed how communities have grown and developed because of a unified sense of purpose.
We all should have a sense of purpose to change the economic landscape of this community. Higher education is a solution to many issues facing this region.
As January 31 approaches, I am encouraged and excited for the future of Albany State, our students and this community.
My wife Karen and I are grateful for the time we've spent in this community and will remain cheerleaders for Albany State University. I look forward to seeing the successes that lie ahead.
President, Albany State University