Albany Tech starts spring semester with more than 2,000 students

Jan. 5—ALBANY — The beginning of the spring semester brought students back to the Albany Technical College campus on Thursday, with scholars returning from spring break for the first day of classes.

Among those picking up books and Blazers' gear on the first day was Jessica Francis, who is looking toward completing her studies this year.

Francis, who is on schedule to get an associate's degree, said she graduated from high school in 2012 and took a few semesters off but got sidetracked. Now she is looking forward to getting her degree.

"I always worked," she said. I'm getting my associate's degree in business health care (technology) in December. I love it here."

Enrollment for the spring semester is about 2,200, around 10% less than this time in 2022, Albany Tech President Emmett Griswold said Thursday. But he noted there will be a couple of additional opportunities, in January and March, for students to come in for some of the mid-term sessions.

"That's not a final number," Griswold, who was named president in October after serving on an interim basis after the death of Anthony Parker, said. "We still have opportunities to increase that number. We're continuing to move forward with some of the high-demand fields like truck driving, nursing and diesel engine technology."

The college also has evening programs for medical assisting and pharmacy tech students and is expanding the weekend classes in criminal justice, early childhood education and general education.

"We have several projects we're working on," Griswold said. "We're continuing to work with Phoebe (Putney Health System) on the Living and Learning Center. We're soliciting funds to renovate the old RDC building for a criminal justice center. Those are the major projects we're working on."

The Living and Learning Center being constructed across North Jefferson Street from Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital will house the college's phlebotomy and three nursing programs once it is completed in 2024. Albany Tech will lease the first floor, and students will have the opportunity to live in upstairs housing at the facility.

The criminal justice center renovations are the college's top priority for state lawmakers who will begin their legislative session next week.

Albany Tech will continue fulfilling its core mission of training the workers needed by area employers and also look to the future needs of students and industry, the president said.

"With evolving needs in the society we need to evolve as well," he said. "We're making the adjustments to be where we need to be."

Student Tyler Shook, who is pursuing a degree in mechatronics technology, said he is looking forward to completing his degree this year and pursuing a job in industrial maintenance.

"My step-brother has a degree in it," he said. "He's working at Mars(Wrigley). That's what I'm looking at getting into. I want to get a business degree after that and work my way up."