Albany State-Darton consolidation proposed, new president nominated

Published: Nov. 6, 2015 at 8:35 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 6, 2015 at 10:17 PM EST
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ALBANY, GA (WALB) - The University System of Georgia Chancellor wants to consolidate Albany State and Darton College into one school.

According to a release by the system, Chancellor Hank Huckaby plans to recommend the move to the Board of Regents.

The plan aims to increase the university system's impact on Southwest Georgia, overall learning potential, and student success.

If approved, the new institution will be named Albany State University.

Chancellor Huckaby also plans to recommend to the board that Albany State Interim President Art Dunning be named as the permanent president of Albany State.

He said if consolidated, the new university would maintain the missions of both schools.

"We recognize this is a historic milestone for Albany State. We are committed to continuing to serve the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) mission and building upon the mission to serve an increasingly diverse student population and community," Huckaby said in a statement. "We also recognize the key role Darton has played in meeting the access mission and offering workforce related associate degrees. We will maintain both missions under the consolidated institution and believe this strengthens public higher education in Southwest Georgia."

A consolidated Albany State University would create a new school of nearly 9,000 students.

If the board approves the recommendation, an implementation team with representatives from both institutions will soon be formed and charged with the responsibility to work out the many details associated with consolidating the two universities.

MORE: Read the full release by the University System of Georgia

The release went on to say the University System, Albany State and Darton State will hold campus and community listening sessions in the coming months to seek and hear input on ways to best design the new institution to serve Albany, the region and the state.

"We are committed to the long-term health of public higher education in southwest Georgia and our partnership with the Albany community," Huckaby said. "The University System is committed to strengthening the region through a long-term investment in public higher education in southwest Georgia."

The recommendation to consolidate comes just one day after a report that Albany State University's enrollment was down more than 10 percent, falling at the University System of Georgia's greatest rate.

Albany State had recently hired new administrative leaders to combat the decline, and also restructured their admissions office to increase recruiting efforts for 2016.

MORE: ASU students still struggle over financial aid problems

Less than two weeks before the recommendation, ASU announced sweeping cuts of major programs slated for deactivation. The move was designed to save the school money. The proposed deactivations were slated to begin in the spring of 2016 and be complete before the year's end.

In January 2015, Georgia State University and Georgia Perimeter College consolidated to form the largest university in the state, with nearly 54,000 students.

The new institution was named Georgia State University, following Huckaby's recommendation of the school's consolidation.

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