ALBANY, Ga. -- When Peter Sireno took the helm as president of Darton College in 1989, he had an idea of the direction he wanted to lead the school. But he never envisioned where it would eventually wind up.
"Twenty-one years ago, the only idea I had was that we could strengthen our health services in our Nursing and Allied Health Divisions," Sireno said Tuesday after addressing the Albany Rotary Club at Doublegate Country Club.
"I had no idea how technological advances would drive us to where we are now."
And just where is Darton now?
Several years ago the school received a $2.48 million federal grant to develop an online nursing program.
"Now we are able to go anywhere in the country to set up online RN programs," Sireno said.
With 5,850 students this semester, the school boasts the state of Georgia's second-highest enrollment among two-year colleges.
"We are projecting an average 10 percent increase in enrollment over each of the next five years," Sireno said.
There has also been a building boom on campus. The school recently cut the ribbon on a brand new administrative building and in June will open the doors of a 64,000-square-foot student center.
"It (the new student center) is one of the most unique buildings anywhere," Sireno said. "It will have four racquetball courts, four bowling alleys and pool and ping-pong tables.
"On the second floor is an 8,000-square-foot multipurpose room that is designed to also be used as a banquet hall. This will be the center of student life on campus."
Next on the table is a new 7,600-square-foot book store, a wrestling center, a track and field venue, a flag football field and soccer field.
Sireno also said school officials are currently "talking to people right now" about getting a men's basketball program started.
Darton is also making a push for more international students and expanding the school's "servant-leadership" programs.
"Young people want to help their communities and the environment," Sireno said. "A student's major is unimportant. They want to help. We've had students go to the Florida Keys and help replace coral reef. Others have helped clean up trash in the Okefenokee.
"All these kids are looking to serve and improve their communities and the environment."