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Albany State University President Art Dunning: Time to leverage the intellectual assets in Albany

ASU Interim President Art Dunning says an educational collaborative can lift the community

Albany State University Interim President Art Dunning told the Dougherty County Rotary Club on Tuesday that with three post-secondary institutions in the city, it’s time to begin to leverage those assets for the betterment of the entire community. (Staff Photo: Terry Lewis)

Albany State University Interim President Art Dunning told the Dougherty County Rotary Club on Tuesday that with three post-secondary institutions in the city, it’s time to begin to leverage those assets for the betterment of the entire community. (Staff Photo: Terry Lewis)

ALBANY — Albany State University Interim President Art Dunning, speaking to the Dougherty County Rotary Club on Tuesday, touted Albany’s “intellectual capital,” saying it’s time for the community to “leverage those assists.”

“We have assets here that many communities in this state would love to have,” Dunning, who has been at ASU since December, said, calling attention to the three institutions of higher learning which called Albany home.

Strengthening his argument, Dunning pointed to the recent “educational collaborative” formed by ASU, Darton State College, Albany Technical College and the Dougherty County School System to reduce the county’s dropout rate and to bolster education throughout the region. The collaborative marked the first time the three post-secondary institutions had partnered as a whole with the DCSS.

Dunning said the group members are beginning to firm up some plans to bring their vision of preventing dropouts to reality. They want to model a local program after a pre-kindergarten through age 16 collaborative in El Paso, Texas, a community that has transformed education through similar collaborative efforts that include businesses, community leaders, K-12 schools and higher education partners.

“We want to see what we can do to strengthen this community,” Dunning said. “Last week, we met with people from the Carl Vinson Institute for Government and the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development at UGA to come down here and conduct a series of listening sessions in August to hear from the community and to learn what they think we can do to to strengthen our community and help put the infrastructure in place to carry us to the next level.

“Basically, we are trying to gather as much information as we can to put together a strategy to make this a better community. We need to stop assigning blame.”

After completing the community listening sessions, Dunning, Darton Interim President Paul Jones, ATC President Anthony Parker and DCSS Superintendent Butch Mosely plan to make a visit to the El Paso school district in late August or early September.

“There is a tremendous amount of intellectual capital in this community,” Dunning said. “We want to see what our three campuses can do for Albany. How do we squeeze all this together? How do we make this a place we all treasure? How do we leverage all that?

“My goal is to extend the strength of Albany State into the community. We have to pay our rent, what I call it social capital. We have to make people understand that with just a ninth-grade education, you are going to have a hard time providing for a family. Education is the underpinning of what makes this country run.”