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Darton's Sireno: Embrace changes from growth

Darton State College President Peter Sireno is shown as he deliveres his Annual State of the College Address to faculty and staff on Monday. (Terry Lewis)

Darton State College President Peter Sireno is shown as he deliveres his Annual State of the College Address to faculty and staff on Monday. (Terry Lewis)

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Darton State College has seen a 90.5 percent enrollment increase over the past decade. (Terry Lewis)

ALBANY — Darton State College President Peter Sireno delivered his annual State of the College Address Monday morning, congratulating the school’s faculty and staff for graduating its first class of four-year nursing students, while urging the Darton family to gear up for a SACS-COC (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools — Commission on Colleges) reaccreditation visit in October.

“As I began the process of preparing today’s State of the College address, I couldn’t help reminiscing about your and the college’s accomplishments as well as think about the many exciting challenges and opportunities waiting for us,” Sireno said. “One of the most exciting aspects of being at Darton State College is that the college continues to grow in enrollment, program offerings and facilities. I doubt any other system institution can boast a 90.5 percent increase in enrollment over the past 10 years.”

Sireno pointed with pride to the college graduating its first bachelor of science majors last month, point out for the third consecutive year Darton’s Nursing Division graduated more registered nurses than any other college or university in the Georgia.

He also drew attention to the groundbreaking of the college’s new satellite instructional center in Cordele, and heaped praise on the schools athletics programs for winning state championships in all of the Cavaliers’ fall sports and all but one spring sport.

“Yet, none of those accomplishments are as important to all of us at Darton State as 10 of our 11 intercollegiate teams or 91 percent of our intercollegiate athletes have GPAs of 2.5 or better and six of our 11 teams or 56 percent of our athletes have GPAs of 3.0 or better,” Sireno said. “We also had four NJCAA Academic All-Americans; six coaches were recognized by the Academic All-Americans Association and we had two Academic Team of the Year honorees.”

The president then turned his attention to the school’s upcoming SACS visit.

“As many of you may already know, our SACS-COC Compliance Report, or the first submission of our SACS-COC Compliance Certification Document for reaffirmation, was not favorably reviewed by the off-site committee of the accrediting commission,” Sireno said. “There were weaknesses in our response to most (almost all) of the compliance areas in our original compliance report submittal that required we provide additional text clarifications and elaborations, as well as additional supporting documentation.

“As is standard policy and procedure, SACS-COC sent it to us as a ‘confidential assessment’ of our Compliance Certification Document to help us with our preparation for the on-site visit in October. It is unfortunate that a member of our Darton family chose to send this confidential document to the local newspaper — to the detriment of everyone who works here as well as the reputation of the college.

“Since we received the off-site committees report of our compliance report submittal under Dr. (Gary) Barnette’s leadership, our deans and many faculty and staff have joined together these last few weeks to draft the ‘Focus Report’ in response to each of the off-site committees non-compliance recommendations.”

Sireno then pointed out that the school’s faculty and staff should embrace changes that will inevitably occur as a process of growth.

“Change is not only inevitable; it is almost a requirement to succeed,” Sireno said. “Learning styles, teaching methods, instructional technology, student tracking and support systems, coaching methods, record keeping, business office practices, campus safety practices, and so many more daily operations evolve continually. Keeping up with those changes is an almost daily challenge. We must accept change or lose the ability to engage our students in the learning process.”