Darton State College was a public college in Albany, Georgia. It was part of the University System of Georgia and had its higher enrollment, 6,097 students, in 2011. Prior to its merger with Albany State University in 2016, the college offered 84 two-year transfer and career associate degrees, 4 four-year baccalaureate degrees, and 49 certificate programs.
The institution was founded as Albany Junior College in 1963 and offered its first classes in 1966.
In 1987, a committee of faculty, staff, students and community members chose the name Darton College as part of its reclassification as a state college. “Darton” is an Old English word probably meaning “town by the (River) Dearne,” which refers to Albany’s location on the Flint River.
In November 2015, the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia announced the consolidation of Albany State University and Darton State College and appointed Dr. Arthur Dunning as President of the University. The new combined institutions assumed the name and branding of Albany State University. The Darton campus became Albany State University West Campus and the location of the university’s Darton College of Health Professions.
The merger of the two institutions greatly decreased the combined enrollment. Fall 2013 enrollments were 6,195 for Darton State College and 4,260 for Albany State University while Fall 2017 enrollments for the new combined Albany State University were 6,615. This represents a 27% decrease over that period.
The 186 acre campus on Albany’s western edge included a 470-seat theater, library, fitness center, computer labs, and sports facilities such as tennis and racquetball courts, indoor swimming pool, indoor bowling alley and climbing wall, with surrounding nature trails, soccer fields, ball fields, and pecan trees.
At one time, Darton College enrolled more than half of the area’s high school graduates and approximately 45% of the students were from Dougherty County. (The population of the MSA was 162,800 in 2004.) Approximately 1% of students were from out-of-state and about 100 were from other countries.
About 57% of Darton’s students were under age 24. Approximately 45% were non-Hispanic black, and 50% were non-Hispanic white — no other group constituted more than 3% (self-reported).
Full-time enrollment was approximately 47%.
In August, 2013, President Sireno stated that “Darton State College has seen a 90.5 percent enrollment increase over the past decade.”
Darton State College provided educational opportunities and services to Southwest Georgia with a variety of programs, including three bachelors of science and one bachelor of arts degree, four associate degrees, 10 career associate degrees and 15 certificates. Darton prepared students to enter the workforce or continue their education at another four-year institution. Darton State College was a public institution as part of the University System of Georgia and was accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
To increase access to a college education, grants enabled Darton to offer 39 fully online degrees, 10 partially online degrees, 13 fully online certificate programs, and over 96 individual distance learning courses over the Internet, through local Channel 19 telecasts, GVNS video-conferencing, and at sites off the main campus: Cordele, Thomasville, Colquitt, Rome, Barnesville, Columbus, Valdosta, Waycross, Sandersville, Swainsboro, and Atlanta, Georgia. Darton College had a strong presence in state distance learning initiatives, with its core curriculum courses in many programs available online.