Albany State University President Everette Freeman, left, and Albany Technical College President Anthony Parker worked closely on several articulation agreements between the two schools over the years. Freeman will be leaving ASU at the end of the month to take a job in Colorado. (File Photo)
ALBANY — Just minutes before holding what was likely his final news conference as the president of Albany State University, Everette Freeman was relaxed and talkative.
Earlier this week, Freeman effectively closed the book on a nine-year stint at ASU when he accepted the president’s position at the Community College of Denver (CCD) in Colorado. He’ll begin work out west on Nov. 1
When asked what he thought would be the legacy he would leave behind at Albany State, Freeman smiled.
“College presidents come and go. I worked day to day to make Albany State stronger and better,” he said. “There were so many difficult decisions to make that none stand out. I do believe the university is stronger and in better shape than I when I arrived in 2005. But that improvement wasn’t just me, it took a combined effort from our faculty, staff, students and the community.
“It’s a team effort and always will be.”
Freeman said the university is strong and stable, adding that it only takes a few minutes to walk around campus to see his true legacy.
“Look around you. We are standing in the middle of a beautiful new student center,” he said. “We’ve built a brand new campus, adding eight new buildings since the day I arrived. It’s a beautiful footprint, alums come back and say, ‘Wow, I never thought I’d see my alma mater as sharp and as vibrant as it does today.”
CCD bills itself as a “leading point of entry to higher education.” The school boasts an enrollment of more than 12,000 students (unduplicated), 76 percent of whom are part-time students, with an average age of 27. Freeman is familiar with these types of non-traditional students.
“Really I have come full circle to my first love — teaching non-traditional students” Freeman said. “My first job in education was in a school like this. My first class would start at 6:40 at night and the day would end at 10:45 that evening. It’s really a different type of student at these schools. Education is important to these people and I am looking forward to immersing myself in the commitment of those students.”
Dougherty County Commission Chairman Jeff Sinyard said Freeman will be missed.
“Everette Freeman is a great friend of mine and I’ll miss him on a personal and professional level. said Sinyard “He was very good for Albany State and our community. His goal was always take Albany State to the next level. He represented ASU and Albany well. As I said before, I will be miss him greatly.”
Albany Technical College President Anthony Parker agreed.
“On the day when Dr. Freeman was introduced to the community, he stated that he wanted to develop a stronger relationship with Albany Technical College. Within his first 60 days, he toured Albany Tech, became familiar with our faculty, and met some of our students,” Parker said. “Within 90 days, we had our first articulation agreement. His relationship with ATC was the catalyst for new relationships with Valdosta State University, Georgia Southwestern State University, and Southern Polytechnic State University. Afterwards, came opportunities for Albany Technical College to lease ASU facilities for basketball and graduation. We signed agreements that allowed the ASU Police Department to provide campus security for ATC. When ASU had a surplus of student housing, agreements were signed that gave our student athletes the full university experience.
“Dr. Everette J. Freeman is forward thinker, a valued colleague, and a personal friend.
When asked if the timing of his departure, during ASU’s homecoming week, was difficult, another smile ran across Freeman’s face.
“It’s bittersweet,” he answered, “But I really get to celebrate two homecomings. This one at Albany State and another in returning to the constituency that helped shape me as a teacher and an administrator.”
As he packs his office and looks back one final time, Freeman has few regrets.
“Like the song says, ‘Regrets? I have a few … but then again, too few to mention,’” he said. “You don’t ever leave Albany State, you take ASU with you.”