ALBANY, Ga. — Getting a bounce from the offering of the first baccalaureate degree in school history, Darton State College President Peter Sireno greeted students, faculty and staff with a message of optimism on Monday.
“As we begin this new academic year, we should recognize our accomplishments, our challenges, and the many exciting educational opportunities ahead for us, the University System of Georgia, and our nation,” Sireno said. “As many of you know, this semester will be the first time in the history of Darton State College that we will be offering the coursework for a baccalaureate degree (in nursing).
“The new degree in nursing is our first. Nineteen different programs were identified by the Comprehensive Regional Needs Assessment conducted in the spring of 2011. This past month, Darton submitted prospectuses for three additional programs — health informatics, respiratory care and online English. Plans are under way to submit prospectuses for three additional programs before the end of next month.”
Sireno said as Darton obtains the startup funding for more bachelor degree programs, people will begin to see the campus transition from a community college to a state college environment.
The president anticipates that the number of students taking coursework, participating in research and internships, and doing volunteer work — as well as the number of students participating in student clubs and organizations — will gradually increase.
“Campus Life will change even more than it did when we transitioned from a commuter campus to a residential campus,” said Sireno.
And more change is on the way, such as:
—This fall, construction will begin for Darton’s new southern road and its extension into Meadowlark Drive. Once complete, this road will open the southern portion of the campus as well as the 34-acre tract of land south of the campus owned by the Darton College Foundation.
— By early to mid-November, the college will begin Phase I of the Old Student Center Construction and Renovation Project. Approximately 6,000 square feet of new construction will house the Advisement Center, the Career Center, Counseling Offices, Disability Services and Minority Advising.
—The New Student Health Clinic being constructed on the northwest corner of the old student center and should be open to students, faculty and staff no later than early to mid-November.
“When I talk about what Darton College has accomplished or about what remains to be done, I often address you using the term ‘educators,’” Sireno said. “That term is not exclusive to faculty. Everyone who works at an institution of higher education contributes to the education of the students; therefore, all in that sense are educators.”
“You must remain connected with our students: attend their performances and athletic events, learn and use their names, listen to their questions and feedback. Show them that you personally care about them as individuals and their success.”