Albany State Aims to Create Jobs

Barbara Kieker

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

In their recently developed strategic plan, Albany State University aims to develop and commercialize intellectual property as a way of developing new businesses and jobs in the local economy.  The goal is to retain students in the region after graduation.

"ASU set this tradition in its early days.  Our founder Joseph Winthrop Holley was a hog farmer and introduced new hog breeds.   While that is not something we would pursue today, we would for example work on developing the genome of animal husbandry," said ASU President Dr. Everette Freeman.

According to Freeman, the ASU College of Business has been tasked with creating jobs.  This aligns with their goal of ensuring every graduate within a year of graduation is employed, self-employed or enrolled in graduate school.

More Learning Communities, More Customization, More Partnerships
Looking five to 10 years ahead, Freeman sees brick and mortar enrollment remaining steady at ASU with accelerated growth in online enrollment.  Currently some of the school's specialized programs such as fire science technology and logistics and supply chain management are completely online.

"We also expect to have more learning communities.  We know students excel the most when they work in groups; it accelerates learning," Freeman said.

Learning communities link together courses to provide greater coherence in a program and create more opportunities for interaction between students and between students and faculty.  At ASU, the nursing and music programs are among those with learning communities.

Freeman also expects students will be able to customize their areas of concentration to a greater degree in the future.  "For example, a student may study sonar communications among ships and land bases within the broader field of communications."

ASU currently partners extensively with Albany Technical College to smooth the transition for students from the technical college to the four-year university.  Freeman expects these types of partnerships will continue to grow.

"The University System of Georgia has adopted the ASU/ATC model that's been in place since 2006.  We knew then that if we worked with technical colleges to improve their infrastructure and programs that all boats would rise," Freeman said.

A Strong Value Proposition
ASU has seen its enrollment steadily increase every semester since 2005 until this fall.  According to Freeman, enrollment this fall semester is expected to be about 4,280 students, down from 4,664 in fall 2011.  The nearly 10 percent drop is due primarily to the slow economy and changes in financial aid policies.

"The good news is that the quality of our student body as measured by test scores on the SAT and ACT continues to increase.  Students are looking at the value proposition of ASU compared to schools with higher pedigrees and costs, and they are choosing to come here," Freeman said.

"ASU has consistently ranked among the top of the 35 schools in the University System of Georgia on graduation rates."

ASU was also ranked among the best providers of master's level programs by The Washington Monthly.  Ebony magazine named ASU among the "Top Liberal Arts Schools" and "Top Law-Related Schools" in its September 2012 Historically Black College and University Special Edition.

The core programs at ASU include education, liberal arts and preparation for medicine and law.  According to Freeman, ASU is the "envy of Georgia" in education and liberal arts, particularly music.

"If you are teaching in a K through 12 public school in Georgia and you are African-American, there's a two out of three chance you are a graduate of ASU," Freeman said.

Its recognized music programs include choral performance and marching band.  Professional musicians in residence at ASU, such as internationally renowned violinist Gareth Johnson, work daily with students, setting high standards for practice and dedication.

ASU also has specialized programs such as its logistics and supply chain management program within the College of Business, which is funded by the Department of Defense.  Students have the opportunity to manage a fictitious auto company and react to changes in oil prices, natural disasters and other factors that have multiple, complex effects on sales, costs and profitability.

"At semester's end, students present to a review board of business executives from organizations like Tyco, IBM and the U.S. Logistics Command.  It makes them more focused and ensures they are up to speed on the industry," Freeman said.

Getting Students Ready for a Larger World
Six years ago, Freeman set a new standard for ASU students.  On enrolling in ASU, every freshman is expected to have a passport.  At registration, every student is expected to go abroad before graduating.

"It's our responsibility to get students ready for a larger world.  We knew if they had a new passport with all those blank pages, they would feel they had to go somewhere to get a stamp," Freeman said.

"We were the first in Georgia to do it and we asked an alum who is vice president of Manufacturing at Nissan North America if Nissan would fund it.  They did.  Now universities across the country are requiring passports."

More information on Albany State University is available at

About Barbara Kieker

Barbara Kieker is a freelance writer who writes on business-related topics for a number of web-based properties. She also provides communications services to Fortune 500 corporations, small businesses and nonprofit organizations.