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Board of Regents member gives update on university system

Support voiced for Darton’s interim president, ASU’s arts center

Dr. Tommy Hopkins, a member of the Board of Regents, converses with fellow medical colleague Dr. John Inman Jr., right, following a meeting of the Kiwanis Club of Dougherty County. (Special Photo: David Shivers)

Dr. Tommy Hopkins, a member of the Board of Regents, converses with fellow medical colleague Dr. John Inman Jr., right, following a meeting of the Kiwanis Club of Dougherty County. (Special Photo: David Shivers)

ALBANY — Darton State College Interim President Dr. Paul Jones got a vote of confidence this week from a member of the Georgia University System Board of Regents.

Dr. Tommy Hopkins, an orthopedic surgeon from Griffin who represents the Third Congressional District on the Regents board, told members of the Kiwanis Club of Dougherty County he thought Jones would move the college forward during his tenure here.

“This is the first time I’ve met him, and I’m very impressed,” Hopkins said. “He’s a really good guy and you’re lucky to have him.” Hopkins said Jones has served 11 years at Georgia College which he called “a really fine school,” as well as at the University of Utah.

Hopkins was in Albany to address members of the Kiwanis Club at the invitation of Dr. Price Corr, a long-time friend.

During his remarks, Hopkins presented some information regarding the University System’s presence in the Albany area.

Hopkins said Darton’s enrollment for the fall semester was 6,195 while Albany State University had 4,260 students during the same period. The entire University System had almost 309,000 enrolled.

ASU’s economic impact on the region was $156 million, Hopkins said, followed by Darton at $136 million.

He said ASU and Darton would receive a portion of the system’s $60 million in funds for major repair and renovation. He referenced Gov. Nathan Deal’s recommendation of $1.4 million for design of a new arts center for ASU. He said the Regents are “aggressively supporting the governor’s recommendation.” Total cost of the proposed arts center is about $24 million.

Hopkins did not refer specifically to any possibility of consolidation of Darton and ASU, but he did broach the consolidation topic from a general standpoint.

“Our key goal with consolidation was to reconfigure our institutions in ways that would let us expand academic opportunities for more students,” he said.

This results in moving money out of administration and into the classroom, he said. The Board of Regents last fall approved consolidation of Kennesaw State and Southern Polytechnic universities in Cobb County.

“As we work to make the system more efficient and effective to serve students better, we must continue to review every aspect of how we are structured and how we deliver higher education,” he said. “It’s all about the students.

On the medical front, Hopkins said Georgia’s university system is graduating more medical students than there are positions for employment in the state, resulting in many graduates going to neighboring states for jobs.

Efforts to remedy this include work by the Southwest Georgia consortium, consisting of hospitals in Albany, Moultrie, and Thomasville.

Hopkins said the university system is emphasizing a partnership with the Technical College System of Georgia as a “critical part of the college completion strategy” by continued easing of the transition of credits between the two systems.