Regents approve Albany State, Darton State merger

The state’s Board of Regents on Tuesday approved the initial plan to merge Albany State University and Darton State College, two of the state’s 30 public colleges.

The consolidation is the first in Georgia to combine a historically black college with a predominantly white institution. University System of Georgia Chancellor Hank Huckaby has vowed to maintain Albany State’s HBCU (historically black college or university) mission.

Both schools have faced enrollment declines in recent years. Albany State’s enrollment has dropped 25 percent in five years; Darton has seen a 14 percent enrollment decline since its peak in 2012.

The new institution, with about 9,000 students, will be the largest college in southwest Georgia. Albany State’s current interim president, Arthur Dunning, will become the president of the merged institution, which will retain the Albany State University name. Darton State’s interim president, Paul Jones, will become president of Fort Valley State University, another of the system’s HBCUs.

The Albany State/Darton State consolidation will be the seventh consolidation in the University System in the past few years. The merger with Kennesaw State and Southern Polytechnic State universities was finalized earlier this year. The system’s largest merger, between Georgia State University and Georgia Perimeter College, is currently underway.