Joe Powell, center, has been a member of the Darton Foundation’s Board of Trustees for nearly 50 years. Darton State College has recognized his efforts for the school by awarding him the first Darton State College Service Award.
ALBANY, Ga. -- Joe Powell will never forget the day in the early 1960s when Albany Junior College founder and President B.R. Tilley walked into his office in the trust department at First State Bank.
"Dr. Tilley said he was organizing a foundation for the college and asked me if I would serve on its board of trustees," Powell recalled. "I immediately accepted."
Nearly five decades later, Albany Junior College is now Darton State College and Powell is still on the foundation's board as the sole remaining sitting member of the original group.
Last week, Powell was recognized for his contributions as the college presented him with the first Darton State College Service Award. The award was presented by Foundation Chairman Glenn Tennyson. "There is probably no one who loves this college more than he does," Tennyson said.
"That was a total surprise to me. I had no inkling it was coming," Powell said. "I'm stunned and humbled by the award, but it's really all been a labor of love for me."
As a Foundation trustee, Powell has served in many capacities, including chairman of the executive board. He also chaired the housing committee, which played an instrumental role in bringing on-campus housing to the College.
Because of his efforts, Powell was able to bring community leaders together to help make Darton's vision of offering on-campus housing a reality.
"When we wanted to build a dorm, the state Board of Regents was not very helpful," Powell said. "The Foundation used its resources and went out in the community to build the dorm. Once the the regents saw that it was needed and worked, they built the second one for us."
Powell then took a moment to praise the college.
"Darton State College is the best-kept secret in Southwest Georgia," he said. "The school has done amazing education young people for work and how to prosper in their communities. The growth in enrollment to more that 6,300 students speaks to the quality of the school, its administration and faculty."
Darton President Peter Sireno praised Powell's strong commitment to Darton.
"Joe Powell is the trustee's trustee," Sireno said. "He is an exemplary trustee and he sees, more than most, all the good that Darton State does for our students and our community. Joe truly believes in Darton State College."