Darton State College
Darton State College, established in April 1963 as Albany Junior College, is a four-year college of the University System of Georgia. It has grown from an enrollment of 620 students in 1966, its first year of operation, to 6,097 students in 2011.
The citizens of Albany provided $1.6 million to finance the purchase of the original 100-acre site in west Albany and the construction of the school's first five buildings. Today the campus covers 180 acres, beautifully landscaped with native grasses and shrubs, as well as a productive pecan grove. In 1987 the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia dropped the word junior from all junior college names. The college was renamed Darton, an old English word meaning "town by the water." In 2012 the name changed to Darton State College, reflecting the school's transition from a two-year to a four-year institution.
By 2012 Darton offered bachelor's and associate degrees, as well as certificate programs, in such diverse fields as business, fine arts, health professions, and social sciences. Many courses and degree programs are offered online.
Transfer students are well prepared for a four-year college or university, and their grade point averages typically increase at their transfer institutions. Career-program graduates who take licensing exams have among the highest pass-rates in the state and, in most cases, 100 percent employment upon graduation. Darton offers courses at its main campus in Albany as well as at five satellite centers in Americus, Bainbridge, Colquitt, Cordele, and Thomasville.
Students find an array of support services at Darton, including courses offered through the Learning Support Division. Students may also participate in the student success, minority advising, honors, and tutoring programs.
Darton students have the opportunity to train for information technology careers through joint programs between the college and such companies as Cisco, Oracle, and Network Support Specialist. The division of Continuing Education and Economic Development works closely with business, industry, and government and community agencies to deliver training and continuing education throughout southwest Georgia. These programs include credit and noncredit offerings, depending on the company's specific needs and budget.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Darton became South Georgia's center for nursing and allied health education, providing thirteen allied health degree programs in cardiovascular technology, dental hygiene, diagnostic medical sonography, emergency medical services, health information technology, histology, human services technology, medical laboratory technology, nursing, occupational therapy assistance, physical therapist assistance, psychiatric technology, and respiratory care.
Students are encouraged to participate in campus activities, which include college clubs, theatrical productions, musical groups, intercollegiate athletics, and the Student Government Association. Darton's 470-seat state-of-the-art theater allows students to gain hands-on experience in every aspect of theater production and musical performance. Fine-arts students see their photographs, paintings, sculptures, ceramics, and graphic artworks on display throughout campus. In 2005 Darton opened a $12 million physical education complex that houses an elevated walking track, a 25-yard by 25-meter pool with a diving well, a 3,000-seat convocation center and gymnasium, a fitness center, a recreation gym, and a dance studio.