Blue and Gold mark big week

Look around Albany this week and you’ll see some distinctly different autumn colors — blue and gold.

That’s because this is the special time of year when Albany State University garners some well-deserved attention from the community — homecoming week.

Some activities have already been conducted this week, but there are more leading up to the big day Saturday when ASU will have its morning homecoming parade through downtown, followed by the afternoon homecoming football game in which the Golden Rams will tackle Benedict College at the coliseum.

The week serves in many ways as a reminder of the enormous role that ASU has in the community. In addition to its core purpose — educating bright young minds — it is an economic engine to the tune of more than $137 million a year.

The university that two devastating floods couldn’t wash away continues to stand tall as a beacon of education, building on the seed that was sewn 108 years ago when Joseph Winthrope Holley founded Albany Bible and Manual Training Institution. The university was founded to serve an underserved segment of the population — African-American students. In the years since, ASU has not lost sight of this important mission.

Albany State has seen a great deal of progress, especially over the past several years. It has touched the community through its educational programs and outreach, and through its artistic and cultural programs, such as the popular Lyceum series.

The fact is, the community should be appreciative of Albany State the year round, and thankful that we have this fine institution, as well as our two other institutions of higher learning — Darton College and Albany Technical College. One of the biggest challenges in our community is poverty, and education is a critical component in improving those numbers. ASU plays a critical role in that.

It’s hard to imagine an Albany without its flagship university. It’s easy to surmise, however, that our community would be much poorer — intellectually, culturally and financially — if ASU weren’t here.

And so, it is fitting that — especially this week of the year — that we show our pride in Albany State, support it with displays that proudly show its colors, greet alumni who have returned to cheer their alma mater, and celebrate an institution that is truly worthy of celebrating.

We’re a better community because of Albany State, and Albany State will continue to play a major role in making us a better community.