Albany State University Interim President Dr. Arthur N. Dunning, right, and his wife Karen Baynes-Dunning met with members of the community at a reception held on campus Monday. (Staff Photo: Brad McEwen)
ALBANY — Albany State University Interim President Dr. Arthur N. Dunning was greeted by members of the Albany community at a reception held on the school’s campus Monday.
Dunning, who took over as interim president in late November following the unexpected departure of former ASU president Everette Freeman in October, used the reception to share some of his past experiences with Albany State and some of the things he hopes to achieve during his tenure.
Dunning began his remarks by sharing his first visit to the campus during the Flood of 1994 and how that event gave him insight into the passion ASU supporters had about their school.
“I came her in 1994 and where we’re sitting today was a lake,” Dunning said. “One of the things I saw was the pain on the faces of the people who loved this university and loved this campus. And so I have a deep attachment to this place.”
Dunning said that he hopes that he can continue what he called a “rich history” of achievement and serve as a steward for the school’s legacy as it works to educate the community for the future.
“So what do we see in Albany State University? One, it has an extraordinary history,” Dunning said. “The history is deep and it’s broad and its wide. So there’s a history here. The other thing that’s here is this sort of deep yearning for the future. And what we can do together.”
According to Dunning, future success lies in the school providing quality education and being involved in the community. To that end, Dunning addressed the idea of ASU having not only financial capital as a business, but also educational and social capital as an institution of higher learning.
“We are a big business, so we have financial capital that we bring to bear,” said Dunning. “The thing that we don’t talk enough about is the intellectual capital and social capital in addition to the financial capital. We have some very talented students here, we have outstanding faculty. The other thing they do is they volunteer, that’s the social capital they add to the community. We have a lot of assets to spend, not just money.”
Dunning also spoke about the need for ASU to work in concert with Darton State College, Albany Technical College and the Dougherty County School System to build a better community through education. In stressing that point, Dunning urged those in attendance to hold the leaders of those institutions accountable for collaboration.
“I’ve said to Paul Jones at Darton, Anthony Parker (president of Albany Technical College) and the school superintendent David Mosely, ‘we’re all in this together. We need to leverage our intellectual assets to strengthen what’s happening to our young people, and this community.’ If we’re not talking, y’all insist that we talk and if we’re not talking shame on us. We need to be thinking about how do we take our assets and make this community a better place for all of us. I’m committed to doing that.”
Dunning said he intended to act as a steward and honor the legacy of those who have come before him and work to make ASU a premier institution that can benchmark itself against the best school’s in the world.
“My job is a stewardship role,” Dunning said. “If my father were alive he’d say to me, ‘you have this job, now make sure you don’t tear it up while you’re in it.’ Well I say ‘yes sir to that.’ I want to be really respectful to our people. We’re going to hold it in our hand and treasure it.”
After his remarks, Dunning left a few moments for his wife, Karen Baynes-Dunning, to address the crowd. Baynes-Dunning said that she was also thrilled to be in Albany and looked forward to becoming part of the community.
“We’ve felt so incredibly welcome since coming here,” said Baynes-Dunning. “I know my husband is the interim but we’re making Albany our home and we’re excited to be here.”