Sep. 15—ALBANY — Albany Technical College President Anthony Parker emphasized upcoming educational initiatives while outlining the past year's accomplishments in his annual State of the College address.
The speech was presented online on Wednesday with no live audience due to the spread of COVID-19 in the community.
"I wish it could have been different," Parker said. "I wish we could have had this presentation in person, and I wish you could have been here."
Part of the college's response to the deadly virus has been its weConnect program that offers instruction on par with in-person classes, the president told the online audience. Albany Tech also has offered other support programs, including a lending library that provides computers to students.
"We are moving forward from COVID," Parker said. "We want to thank the federal government and state government for doing everything they can, and especially allowing technical education to move forward.
"About $18 million was provided to help us make the college whole and to help the students make it through this difficult time and continue their education."
Parker presented slides showing that the number of classes declined from 810 in fall 2020 to 761 in fall 2021, with the number of students also declining. In fall 2020 37.9 percent of classes were 100 percent online, compared to nearly 60 percent that were wholly online in fall 2021.
"You can see the total enrollment declined slightly, that retention increased slightly, graduation rates declined slightly and the placement rates for graduates actually increased," he said. "That shows the demand for Albany Technical College to be high, even with COVID and the restrictions and number of people who can't do certain things and go certain places."
Among the more exciting initiatives outlined by Parker was a mobile STEM laboratory that will travel to students who do not have access to those programs in their schools. STEM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering and math.
"It'll move from different schools and industries throughout our service area," Parker said.
The college also is expanding a number of degree and certificate programs, including nursing and paramedicine as well as automotive repair, auto collision and diesel technology. Albany Tech also plans to renovate the former state regional youth detention center in Albany as a public safety center.
A daytime nursing program will be added that can train up to 40 students, for a total of 80 students combined with the current evening program.
The public safety center will include programs for conservation law enforcement, criminal justice, cyber crime investigation, homeland security technician preparatory courses and wildlife management assistance.
A new associate of science in nursing interdisciplinary program will allow high school students to earn a nurse's aid certificate and to take some of their college course work prior to graduating.
Students who participate in the program will be more likely to attend one of four local colleges and universities and should be more likely to pursue a nursing career in the area, Parker said.
The previous fiscal year saw the completion of renovations of Albany Tech's barbering lab, Carlton Construction Academy II building and campus COVID renovations.
A number of future renovations are planned to expand programs. Albany Tech also is adding programs in addiction and substance abuse counseling and mobile device app development.
Parker invited the public to give input so Albany Tech can stay abreast of the needs of the community.
"It's important that we continue to get input from our regional partners, the businesses and industries, colleges, schools, public organizations in southwest Georgia so we can stay on track to serve the employment needs and placement needs of the southwest Georgia region," he said.