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      Darton College name change approved

      Darton College will soon be changing its sign to read Darton State College

      According to the Board of Regents, Darton College is now Darton State College!

      The approval was made last week and will allow Darton to offer Bachelor's of Science degrees in nursing.

      And that's very exciting for recruiting and all sorts of wonderful things for the college and for our community at large, says Tracy Goode, with the college TMs public relations.

      They will begin changing the signs on campus as well as the seal on marketing materials as the budget allows.

      From a press release issued by the University System of Georgia:Four of the University System of Georgia TMs (USG) current two-year colleges are set to offer limited bachelor TMs degree programs, following approval today by the Board of Regents to change their institutional mission to that of a state college.

      The four institutions are Darton College in Albany, Georgia Highlands College in Rome, and in metropolitan Atlanta, both Atlanta Metropolitan College and Georgia Perimeter College.

      The Board TMs actions reflect the evolving role of our access institutions as we identify specific job-related and economic development needs throughout the state, said Rob Watts, chief operating officer for the USG. Officials at these institutions have made a strong and data-driven case to the Board for the mission change and for the needs in these communities for specific baccalaureate degree programs.

      The state college sector was established in 1998 and categorizes two-year, associate-degree granting institutions that have been authorized by the Board to offer a limited number of four-year baccalaureate degree programs. The University System TMs other institutional categories are: research universities, regional universities, state universities, and two-year colleges. With today TMs actions, there are now 12 USG institutions in the state college sector.

      Two of the mission changes " at Darton College and Georgia Highlands College " reflect the regents TM ongoing focus on meeting the growing need and ongoing shortages of healthcare professionals in Georgia, specifically in nursing.

      Both institutions currently offer associate TMs level nursing programs. The Board TMs approval will allow them to offer a bachelor of science in nursing degree, targeted to existing holders of a registered nurse license and associate TMs degree who wish to complete a bachelor TMs degree.

      In 2006, the Health Resources and Services Administration of the US Department of Health and Human Services reported that Georgia would have a deficit of nearly 38,000 registered nurses by 2020, absent any action by state leaders. Further, a 2010 report from the Institute of Medicine indicated the need for each state to raise the credentials of its nursing workforce towards the baccalaureate degree to improve quality of care, and reduce medical errors and costs.

      A review of registered nurse job openings at area hospitals in Darton TMs service area found that approximately 232 registered nurse positions exist at various hospitals and health-related agencies. Darton TMs new nursing program will help to increase the production of nurses in the region, complementing the existing efforts of both Albany State University and Georgia Southwestern State University TMs nursing degree programs.

      Georgia Highlands College TMs new nursing degree will help to meet the needs for nurses in north and northwest Georgia and serve the educational needs of local students who for time and financial limitations cannot pursue a baccalaureate degree outside the region served by the College.

      In the Atlanta metro region, the change in mission status for Atlanta Metropolitan College, located in south Atlanta, and Georgia Perimeter College, which serves Atlanta TMs northeast and eastern suburbs, will result in very different targeted bachelor TMs degree offerings.

      Atlanta Metro will offer its first bachelor of science with a major in the biological sciences. This degree is specifically designed to increase the pipeline of students who earn degrees in STEM disciplines " science, technology, engineering and mathematics. While the program as approved today by the Board does not include a teacher certification component, College officials have future plans to add this. Program graduates will have entry-level opportunities for immediate employment and offer the foundation for those students who seek a master TMs or higher-level degrees.

      At Georgia Perimeter, the Board has authorized the establishment of two bachelor degree programs: a bachelor of arts with a major in sign language interpreting and a bachelor of science with a major in health informatics.

      While Georgia Perimeter currently offers an associate and certificate level program in sign language interpreting, a new requirement by the field TMs national professional organization and certifying body that goes into effect in July 2012 will require candidates who wish to sit for the Registered Health Information Administration Certification exam to have earned a bachelor TMs degree or higher. The new bachelor TMs degree program at the College will ensure program graduates are eligible for certification.

      The U.S. Bureau of Statistics in 2008 projected a need for additional health informatics specialists, who manage patient information systems. Students will be able to enroll in the program at any of the College TMs five campuses.

      The start date for the five new bachelor TMs degree programs at the four institutions will vary, dependent upon review and approval from the relevant accrediting organizations.Stay connected to MySouthWestGA.com as this story develops and the FOX 31 Newscast at 10 P.M.