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Albany Tech overcoming economic circumstances

August 25, 2009 - (Albany Herald) Anthony Parker, president of Albany Technical College, gives an update of the institution at a State of the College address on campus Monday.

As economic doldrums send more and more workers back into the education system, Albany Technical College is feeling the impact.

Albany Tech - which offers services in college credit programs, adult literacy services, customized training and continuing education - saw an enrollment of 3,017 for summer 2009, an increase of more than 700 students from the same time last year.

"This is the largest summer enrollment we've ever had," Albany Tech President Anthony Parker said. "I think we are going to grow this year."

In part, the rapid growth can be attributed to the role the institution has in redeveloping the work force in a time when economic circumstances are encouraging workers to go back to school.

"We are essential to improvement of the region," Parker said. "Work force development is our purpose. If you can get people the economic utility to get a job, then they can get themselves out of poverty."

Parker gave an update on the institution's progress at a State of the College address on campus Monday. Development over the coming year expected for the institution includes a groundbreaking on the campus' Logistics Education Center.

"We're proud we've been given the responsibility (to offer the logistics program)," Parker said.

The logistics program is already in existence at the institution. An agreement was signed late last year allowing students who earn an associate degree in business logistics management at Albany Tech to move into the corresponding bachelor's degree program at Albany State University. The center at Albany Tech is intended to be operational in January 2011.

There is an October ribbon-cutting scheduled for the Carlton Construction Academy. Renovations are underway for the school's medical assisting lab as well as their business administrative technology lab.

"We're real excited about having real equipment," said Mary Richardson, chairman for Albany Tech's business technology education program.

Albany Tech is also starting its women's athletics program by adding a basketball team. The men's basketball team at the school has been in existence for two years.

Some of the challenges Albany Tech will need to overcome during the next academic year is the projected 4, 6 or 8 percent state cuts, as well as its mandated furlough days for employees.

"We certainly hope cuts don't get worse," Parker said. "If they don't get worse, we'll get through the fiscal year without reductions in force."

During the 2008-09 school year, Albany Tech opened the Charles B. Gillespie Center for Emergency Responders and renovated its nursing lab. The institution had a 100 percent pass rate for radiologic technology students on their certification exams, and their surgical technology program ranked 13th nationally on their certification exams.

The retention rate for the institution is at 64 percent with a graduation rate of 59 percent. Job placement is at 98 percent. Over the last academic year, Albany Tech had 452 GED graduates, and a GED transition of 27 percent.

"We are still able to help them secure employment in the field," Parker said. "We are finding it's taking some students longer to find jobs in-field."

There were 672 graduates that earned diplomas during Fiscal Year 2009, with the goal of that number increasing to 850 during Fiscal Year 2010. In Fiscal Year 2009, 111 graduates received degrees; 150 is the goal for the Fiscal Year 2010 .

"We believe the graduation rate will continue to increase," Parker said.

Albany Tech has a service delivery area encompassing seven counties - Baker, Calhoun, Clay, Dougherty, Lee, Randolph and Terrell. The institution was declared the preferred provider of higher education in six of those seven.

"We have an objective to be more attractive to our citizens," Parker said. "We are pleased we have been able to do that."

By, Jennifer Parks

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