Darton College talks about changes to come

Darton is now a state college

For over a year, officials at Darton have been pushing for it to become a state college. Glenn Tennyson with the foundation says they saw a huge need in nursing specifically--and had the data to back it up.

"Just last year alone Darton graduated over 200 nurses with an 85% passage rate of the state boards," said Tennyson.

And folks with the Dougherty County Rotary are excited.

"Darton is just growing, it's wonderful to see the growth that we're getting in our community and this is going to be nothing but positive for all of ALBANY and southwest Georgia," said Rotarian, Paula Hanington.

And with that comes even more change.

They'll be adding over 250,000 square feet to facilities in and around campus, from classrooms, a new library, and a new bookstore.

But this is probably the worst time for a school to be growing--with federal stimulus funds ending, a decrease in state appropriations causing an increase in tuition fees, and changes to the hope scholarship.

"So I'm going to appeal to the group today to support this college whether it's volunteering or with a checkbook," said Tennyson.

And not only will they be expanding the campus, but they believe this change will also expand Albany, bringing retailers to town and boosting the local economy.

Just over the last 10 years, Darton has seen a 119% increase in enrollment.

"If you apply that same growth trajectory, it could be upwards of close to a $300 million economic impact between faculty staff and students. Go to Georgia Southern in the fall and see what sort of retail business is happening just because of the influx of students coming back, that's what we want to see right here in Albany," said Tennyson.

And the students seem to think it's a great idea too.

"I enjoy being here at Darton College and I think that they have come a long way and I think it's time they become a four year institution," said second year Dance major, Autika Johnson.

Nursing is the first to jump on board, but others will follow.

"We want to let programs meet demands as they come forward and when that happens, we'll appeal to the Board of Regents for those programs. But right now we're content with the nursing and we're gonna get it started up real soon," said Tennyson.

They believe that will be within the next nine months.

"We invite citizens to turn off Gillionville and drive through this campus, it's really unbelievable what's going on our here and it's something to be very proud of."