The chancellor of the Georgia higher education system announced Friday afternoon that he plans to seek the merger of Albany State University, a historically black institution, with Darton State College, whose enrollment is about half white. Georgia's higher education system has been pursuing mergers in recent years, but the state has not to date proposed mergers involving historically black colleges. In other states in the past, such proposals have been controversial. Many advocates for historically black colleges believe such mergers erode these institutions' historic commitment to educating black students, many of them from low-income areas.
At Albany State, 90 percent of students are black. Albany State last month announced budget cuts, including the "deactivation" of undergraduate majors being eliminated: English, history, speech and theater, music, music education, and science education.
The Georgia plan, which must be approved by the Board of Regents, would keep the Albany State name for the combined institution.
Hank Huckaby, the chancellor, said in a statement, “We recognize this is a historic milestone for Albany State. We are committed to continuing to serve the HBCU mission and building upon the mission to serve an increasingly diverse student population and community. We also recognize the key role Darton has played in meeting the access mission and offering workforce-related associate degrees. We will maintain both missions under the consolidated institution and believe this strengthens public higher education in Southwest Georgia.”
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