Albany Tech President Dr. Anthony Parker: Who Were We in 1961 & Who Are We Now?
Wednesday, July 11th, 2018
In 1961, several Southwest Georgia visionaries decided that the best way to create economic prosperity and attract industry to the region was to create a technically-educated workforce. Two of those visionaries were George Kirkland and E. B. White. George Kirkland realized that in order to sell residential and commercial real estate in the area, new industry needed to be enticed to move to Dougherty County. E. B. White understood that in order for all members of our community to obtain gainful employment, Blacks and Whites must have equal access to economic utility through education. Thus, the birth of Monroe Area Vocational School and Albany Area Vocational School.
The original programs fit the needs of the time. Welding, Diesel, Automotive, Auto Collision, Practical Nursing, Printing and Graphics, Secretarial Science, Electrical, Air Conditioning, Carpentry, and Masonry were among the early workforce development programs offered. Later as the community grew and expressed updated needs for workplace skills, Drafting, Child Development, Marketing, Machine Tool, Management, Electronics, Culinary Arts, Computer Programming, Surgical Technology, Emergency Medical Technology, Medical Assisting, Radiologic Technology, and Dental Assisting became second generation programs. Third generation programs added to meet community demand were Law Enforcement, Fire Science, Paramedicine, Pharmacy Technology, Industrial Systems, Plumbing, Medical Coding, Construction Management, Electromechanical Engineering Technology, Telecommunication, Hotel Restaurant Tourism Management, Commercial Truck Driving, Operations Management, Logistics, Quality Assurance, Biomedical Electronics, Telecommunications, and Civil Engineering.
Each program evolved and transitioned to a stronger, more relevant version of the original program. Printing and Graphics became Design and Media Production. Secretarial Science evolved into Business and Office Technology. Industrial Systems evolved into Mechatronics. Drafting became Computer Assisted Design for Architecture or Manufacturing.
The employer community indicated that several programs should be offered at the associate degree level. Each associate degree program required Commission on Colleges level accreditation. Several programs required professional accreditation in order to make gainful employment after graduation more likely.
As our programs developed and in some cases came to require an associate degree education or higher, it became important to create relationships with other colleges and universities. All of our associate degree students have the option of continuing their education by transitioning to bachelor degree programs. Albany Tech has pathway agreements with Albany State University, Andrew College, Columbus State University, East Georgia State College, Fort Valley State University, Georgia Military College, Georgia Southwestern State University, Kennesaw State University, Mercer University, Middle Tennessee State University, Savannah State University, and Valdosta State University.
Each secondary student in our seven-county service delivery area is encouraged to take advantage of Georgia’s Dual Enrollment Program. High school dual enrollment gives secondary students the opportunity to earn an associate degree, diploma, or certificate in all but five disciplines offered at our college. This means that high school students can earn a diploma or AAS degree with no direct cost to them or their parents. This eliminates the tuition and fees for high school students as they earn AAS degrees. This also can reduce the cost of obtaining a bachelor’s degree by up to 50 percent.
Where are we now? We’ve changed for the better. In 2018, we offer relevant, enhanced curriculums leading to exceptional career opportunities. Our programs of study meet the needs of today’s workplace and will continue to advance to support the workplace of the future. Our programs have more than an 80 percent overlap with the Governor’s High Demand Career Initiatives. Forty percent of our programs were added since 1995, yet we have stayed true to our mission. We have not abandoned any program area that was part of our original charge. Albany Technical College’s instructional footprint covers the high demand careers, skill sets, and attributes needed to encourage growth in existing industries and attract new industry to our region.
For nearly 60 years, we have been the primary provider of certificate, one year diploma, and associate degree workforce education in our community. As we continue into the next 60 years, we will uphold our tradition as the college of choice for workforce development, technical and adult education, and higher educational pathways for Southwest Georgia.