Albany State University
Every Decision Counts

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French philosopher, Frantz Fanon, admonishes that “each generation must, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfill it, or betray it.” Albany State is at a critical junction in its history. We can move forward with a new sense of purpose or we can hold on to damaging practices from the past. The way we operate, treat our students and respond to each other as colleagues are conscious decisions that impact the future of the institution. When we choose to implement best practices in our policies and procedures, we work towards making ASU the best university it can be. Conversely, when we do not change our techniques and traditions to comply with the continuously changing times or treat our students as valued customers, we make a decision to limit the growth and prosperity of the university. The political, economic and social environment will force us to change or ultimately face extinction.

This morning, I met with members of the cabinet and deans’ council to ask them to join me in modifying the culture at ASU. I challenged them to look at their respective areas and to make decisions that will improve this institution. Each staff member will treat our customers with the utmost respect and care, understanding that a negative decision today will yield negative results for years to come. We must make immediate changes to increase our enrollment, retention and graduation rate of students to ensure that ASU continues to grow. Every decision, no matter how small, will make an impact on ASU. Beginning today, let’s make certain that every decision, action and process is making ASU bigger, better and stronger.   

-Dr. Art Dunning

 

Moving Up the Ladder

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This year’s U.S. News & World ReportBest Colleges issue shows that Albany State University is moving up in the rankings as a public university. To receive national recognition is always a prestigious honor, but the report also revealed the areas where we can improve and become better at what we do. The rankings evaluated us in several critical categories. While the #15 ranking is noteworthy, we have the potential to move even higher if we find new and creative ways to implement business processes and increase our level of private support. It is my goal to be at the top of the list among not only public and private HBCUs, but all of the nearly 1,800 colleges and universities assessed. An increase in private support will be the key.

Private support makes the difference between a good institution and a great institution. Our current level of support from alumni, corporations, foundations and individuals is a factor that tamped down our ranking. Let’s shoot for much higher. I encourage each of you reading this blog to join our ASU Still We Rise Challenge commemorating the flood of 1994. I ask that you give $19.94 and challenge 10 other faculty, staff, friends or alumni to do the same. Simply go to the ASU website www.asurams.edu and click Give to ASU. I know we have the loyalty, commitment and dedication that it takes to move up the ladder as a top tier institution. Albany State deserves your support today.    

By: Dr. Art Dunning, Interim President of Albany State University 

ASU Study Abroad in Ghana

 Traveling to Ghana was one of the greatest experiences of my life. The study abroad experience has made me overall a better person. I have become not only more appreciative of what I have here in the U.S., but more culturally aware and educated. I’m not going to sell Africa or Ghana in this article, but I would definitely encourage anyone, particularly individuals of African descent to visit this remarkable continent. Africa has so much to offer, in so many ways. It’s culture, history, wildlife, scenery, friendly and festive atmosphere are all elements individuals must experience in their lifetime.

 I grew up in a cultured home, and my parents always explained the importance of knowing who I am. They instilled in me that I can never truly prosper in life without having the knowledge of my history.  This, they explained, is the first step toward developing an identity. As an African-American male, it was my dream to travel to Africa. My love for African American history, art and culture coupled with my passion for traveling fueled my desire to travel to the birthplace of civilization to study abroad in Ghana.

I made preliminary preparations through the Office of Global Programs and was encouraged to apply for study abroad scholarships. I applied for the Gilman scholarship and the ASU Student Affairs scholarship, both of which I received. The Gilman Scholarship paid for the entire trip. I received all necessary vaccinations, began packing and was set and ready for Ghana!

On May 29th, we arrived at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

From Atlanta we headed to Chicago O’ Hare airport then to Rome, Italy. We spent about two hours in Rome. It was my first time in Italy. From there, we took a flight to Accra, Ghana with a stop-over in Lagos, Nigeria. Finally, we arrived at the Kotoka International Airport in Accra on May 30. 

My study abroad adventure had begun! There were several cultural excursions. My first tour was to the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum, and took place the day after our arrival in Accra on Saturday June 1. The memorial and museum is dedicated to the prominent Ghanaian leader and first president. Led by Nkrumah in 1957, Ghana became the first African nation to successfully gain independence from British colonization.

Under Nkrumah‘s leadership, cocoa (Ghana’s primary export) production doubled; forestry, fishing, and cattle-breeding expanded; and deposits of bauxite and gold were exported more effectively. In 1961, the Volta Dam was constructed on the Volta River providing water for irrigation and hydro-electric power which produced enough electricity for the towns, as well as for a new aluminum plant. Nkrumah set the standards for all other African nations fighting toward independence. He believed in “Africa for Africans” and was truly a remarkable leader. His legacy will forever stand and is honored throughout the entire continent. It was truly a privilege to visit his museum and gravesite.

Dr. Kweme Nkuruma historic “Forward-ever” statue at the Nkuruma Museum Accra, Ghana

The grave site of Dr. Kweme Nkuruma(1909-1972) at the Nkuruma Museum, Accra, Ghana

ASU-Ghana Study Abroad Group 2014. From Left: Sidney Wilson, senior middle grades education major, Wonteshia Merrit, senior business major, Dr. Nneka Nora Osakwe professor and program coordinator, Oriel Myles-College, senior business and logistics major, LaTeshia Blakeley, senior criminal justice major from Virginia Union University, and Ebenezer Dormey, University of Cape Coast.

After leaving the Nkrumah Museum we headed to the W.E.B. DuBois Memorial Centre for Pan-African Culture. I was very excited to visit the home and burial site of legendary author, historian, Pan–Africanist, scholar, and founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Dr. W.E.B. DuBois. The Ghana Museum Association has made his home into a museum to celebrate his life and accomplishments. Ghana invited DuBois to Africa to participate in their independence celebration in 1957, but he was unable to attend because the U.S. government confiscated his passport in 1951.

During my visit to the Centre, I learned that DuBois visited Ghana in 1960 and spoke with President Nkrumah about the creation of a new encyclopedia about the African diaspora, called the Encyclopedia Africana. Funds to support the encyclopedia project were appropriated, and DuBois was invited to work on the project in Ghana. In 1961, at the age of 93, DuBois and his wife moved to Ghana to begin work on the encyclopedia. The United States refused to renew his passport in 1963, so he became a citizen of Ghana, but his health declined during the two years in Ghana, and he died on August 27, of the same year in Accra at age 95.

Wilson observes the sketches of Marcus Garvey, Frederick Douglas and other collaborators W.E.B. DuBois.  

We headed to Cape Coast, an historic town which is home to the University of Cape Coast, our host university and the Cape Coast Slave Castle. We stayed in this location for four weeks to complete the internship and academic programs while touring historical and cultural sites in surrounding cities and rural villages.

Each student lived with a Ghanaian host family on campus. I loved my homestay family!  My host family mother is a professor at the University of Cape Coast, and my host family brother is a lecturer. They opened their home to me and were very hospitable. I got a taste of true Ghanaian culture. Every morning when I woke up, my host mother had breakfast prepared for me and when I got home from my classes or internship, she asked me whether I was ready to eat. We spent many nights talking and others rooting for the Black Stars, Ghana’s national soccer team (Go Black Stars!) during the world cup. I felt as if I was a part of the family. I had my own room and house key. The Ghanaian food was amazing! No preservatives or chemicals. Everything is grown fresh. This was quite refreshing, especially coming from the U.S where so much food is processed.

We had class sessions with Dr. Osakwe every Tuesday and Thursday. We had our internship every Monday and Wednesday at a local primary school in Cape Coast, Ghana. This by far was very rewarding and worthwhile. As an aspiring educator, this was the part of the trip I was most excited about. The first visit, I had the opportunity to observe the teacher and the classroom structure. The school does not have a cafeteria, gym, clinic or library, all of which are amenities that every school in America has. The students buy their own lunch from a local street vendor. Additionally, in the school where we interned, all of the girls cut their hair to attend school, wear uniforms, and the students begin school with worship and song. There are very few discipline problems and when there are problems, teachers handle them.

Sidney Wilson with his Middle Grades Class in Ghana

The first lesson I taught after observation was greetings. I immediately fell in love with my students. I don’t know if it was my accent and speech or just my personality, but they thought that I was the funniest guy on earth. The class sessions were vibrant and full of laughs.

I was so impressed with the students’ inquiring minds and thirst for knowledge. It was truly amazing to see a class full of students who are still motivated and love to learn, despite the limited resources in their learning environment. I was in love with my daily internship experience and hated when the school day ended. Teaching in Ghana really taught me how to become a culturally responsive educator. Because of the lack of resources, I learned how to become creative and think outside the box when creating lesson plans and interactive activities. I truly believe that if you can efficiently teach in similar environments such as Ghana, then one can teach anywhere.

Wilson with his middle grades class in Ghana

Ghana has overall made me a better person. I have learned so much in just four weeks and thank God for blessing me with such an opportunity which will be cherished for a lifetime. I will host a variety of forums to encourage other students to study in Ghana and will facilitate presentations describing my experiences. I plan to work in collaboration with the Office of Global Programs at ASU to double the number of students studying abroad in Africa.

Sidney Wilson, Jr., a middle grades education major is an ASU Gilman Study Abroad Scholarship Award Winner, summer 2014. Funding for his study abroad program was from the Gilman’s Study Abroad Scholarship, the ASU Student Activity Scholarship, and donations from individuals and institutions committed to human development. Wilson wishes to thank all individuals and institutions that made the experience possible. The article is part of a technical writing report for Dr. Nneka Nora Osakwe –ENGL 3106-1 SA.

Standing in the Gap

The fall semester brings new students who are eager to make their mark at ASU. Returning students are even more excited because accomplishing the goal of earning a college degree is within eyeshot. But sometimes accomplishing the objective can seem elusive when there’s a gap in financial resources to pay for tuition, housing and books. Approximately 95 percent of ASU students receive federal financial aid and supplement their educational expenses through loans and other privately funded grants and scholarships. With changes in eligibility of the PLUS loan program, students at HBCUs nationwide are continuing to feel the impact. Privately funded grants and scholarships are critical in helping our students fill the financial gap they face.

A matter of a hundred dollars or more can determine whether a student can remain on campus or be dismissed from the institution. Five alums sending a monthly donation of only $50 can make a tremendous impact in the life of a student. As alumni and friends of this great institution, you have a unique opportunity to invest in the education of our new and emerging leaders.

This week, without your support hundreds of students may be forced to leave Albany State without the degree they worked so hard to obtain. I challenge you to seize this opportunity to give and make a profound difference in a student’s life by contributing to our need based scholarship fund. Visit our website www.asurams.edu and click on “Give to ASU” to make an online donation, or mail a check to the ASU Foundation, Inc. at 504 College Drive, Albany, GA 31705. Your actions today will greatly determine our university’s impact in forthcoming years.

Strengthening ASU’s Infrastructure

Registration is always an exciting and challenging time of year. New and returning students come to campus eager to complete their coursework toward earning a college degree. Faculty and staff plan for their arrival by executing action steps to make the registration process seamless.   

This semester, there are several issues that must be addressed in order to improve customer service to our valued clients and strengthen Albany State’s infrastructure. Let’s begin by opening the lines of communication between students, faculty, staff and the administration. Each of us must play a role in tightening campus processes and procedures if ASU is to remain strong. The administration is committed to making necessary changes to ensure that our actions comply with nationally accepted best practices. Students must do their part to complete and submit documents in a timely manner. More teamwork among staffers in critical areas can solve our beginning-of- the- new-school-year  hiccups.

In the next few days, I will conduct a series of meetings with key stakeholders to analyze the registration process and outline a plan that I believe will yield improvements.    

Golden Rams always rise to meet challenges. Our response to the aftermath of the 1994 flood illustrates the reason “unsinkable” is inextricably tied to the ASU brand. 

By: Dr. Art Dunning, Interim President of Albany State University 

Foundations for College Success

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This fall, I will teach a section of the ASU 1201 Foundations of College Success course. Incoming freshman are assigned to this class in order to provide them with a solid foundation for scholastic achievement, while immersing them in the university’s rich heritage and tradition. Students will cover an array of topics while dialoging with campus and community leaders; thereby, providing students with essential elements for continued success.  This course is yet another example of the value that universities like Albany State provide to their students, offering holistic learning to our most significant stakeholders.

As the face of higher education continues to evolve, we must use courses such as this one to go beyond the ordinary to prepare our students for the global marketplace. The inevitable seismic changes in education require no less a commitment to our students. Characteristics such as confidence, compassion, and competence are needed to prepare our leaders for the future. My goal is to use this exposure to ignite a desire for achievement and success that I’ve seen in our loyal and committed Golden Ram alumni. 

I’m calling on our alumni to assist us in giving our students a sense of personal accountability that will keep them on track in pursuit of the dream that J.W. Holley had for his students. In keeping with the tradition of Albany State, we expect our students to operate in their utmost potential.

Written By: Dr. Art Dunning

Seismic Change

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Photos: ASU EDUCATION & RETENTION SUMMIT 2014 

This week, members of the ASU leadership team engaged in a Retention and Education Summit to help chart a course through the changing environment in higher education. One of our facilitators, Dr. Stephen Portch, referred to the “seismic changes” that have occurred in higher education in the last few years to describe the changing face of education. Many of the public historically black colleges and universities like Albany State are the ones most affected by these changes. A recent article posted on Highered.com detailed the challenges faced by our institutions including reductions in state and federal funding and enrollment declines. The summit also allowed us to identify additional topics such as the standards for accreditation and the proliferation of online programs.

Today, Albany State University has to reposition itself to address these challenges head on. We must reframe our lens to ensure that we are the best in recruitment, retention and the graduation of students. Our senior administrators have done an excellent job in identifying strategies to address challenges, but it will take each and every person on campus to bring them all to fruition. I encourage you to talk with your division head to seek details about our new plans and to chart your own individual plan that will support our efforts to succeed. Together, we can have a seismic wave of success! 

Independence Day for ASU

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This week, the nation pauses to celebrate Independence Day. We celebrate the privilege of being citizens of the world’s most progressive nation. It’s a nation where we are not only encouraged to dream big but to act boldly, utilizing those incomparable freedoms that are too numerous to name. Collectively, those inalienable rights guaranteed in the U. S. Constitution afford us the best quality of life known to man. A law that guarantees all Americans a quality education was one which many of our forefathers fought and sacrificed for.

During its history, Albany State has educated countless students who as graduates are enjoying the full benefits of a college degree. As celebrations across our great country begin this week, we should consider creating an Independence Day for ASU.

Independence for ASU can be realized when those who have derived benefits from our beloved institution support it, financially and otherwise. With resources, ASU can operate more independently when it comes to expanding its educational offerings, diversifying research opportunities and enhancing travel abroad programs for all students, for instance.  The University will be less dependent on state funding, a mandate that higher education institutions across the country are tasked with in order to construct state of the art facilities and increase the amount of need based scholarships.    

Let’s use this holiday to make a contribution toward ASU’s independence. Make a donation, large or small to the ASU Foundation. Earmark the contribution to an area that interests you. Give online at www.asurams.edu. Click the “Give to ASU” link or mail a contribution to the ASU Foundation, 504 College Drive, Albany, GA 31705.

By: Dr. Art Dunning, Interim President of Albany State University 

ASU students study in Trinidad and Tobago

         

Photo 1:The Temple in the Sea, in Trinidad

  

Photo1: Students Swimming in the Argyle Falls in Tobago.  

Photo2: Candice Price on a boat to Gasparee Cave in Trinidad.

Entry #8

Submitted by: Candice Price

Today I was a Daredevil! Our class went to Gasparee Cave in Trinidad. We were surrounded by water, and one of my biggest fears was being in a small boat in the middle of the ocean, while the large tides rock the boat back and forth. I kept thinking to myself, “This boat is going to turn over and I’m going to be stuck in the middle of the sea.”  I can swim a little, but my endurance is terrible. I overcame my fear and we rode a small boat through the middle of the ocean to get to the island where the cave was located. I was scared but I told myself “I have to do it. I cannot allow my fears to stop me from experiencing the world.” As soon as we reached the cave, we climbed a steep hill. I was almost out of breath, which made me realize how much I need to work out when I get back home. I was glad when we finally reached the cave. It was so beautiful and the water below was gorgeous.  The sparkles in the cave reminded me of a fairytale and the bats made the cave interesting too.

Inside the cave I was hot and sweaty; the water below looked so refreshing. But I was still apprehensive about getting in. “What if I drown? Can my feet reach the bottom?” I didn’t want to burden our tour guides. Then all of a sudden one of my classmates decided to be the first to get in with the tour guide, and then others started to jump in. So I decided to get in the water too! I climbed down and eased into the water then started swimming. The tour guide even gave me a few lessons. Before I knew it, I was on my own and swimming. I was so proud of myself. I enjoyed every moment! I didn’t want to get out. I thought to myself, “Look at me doing something I never thought I would ever do in my life.” The ruff boat ride across the ocean and the hike up a steep hill was all worth it. I am so glad I had this opportunity. I would definitely do it again!           

                   

             Photo 1: The ASU 2014 T and T Global Ambassadors                                                                      

Photo 2: The Temple in the Sea in Trinidad

Entry #9

Submitted by: Teiara Tyson

Senior Social Work Student

With only one more week left of this trip. I realize how much I have learned. From the rich culture, to the history in the revived cocoa plantations, Trinidad and Tobago has been an interesting experience. Everyday has been a learning experience and thus far I see a change in my peers and myself. Coming from the United State of America, where so much is taken for granted, I have really began to appreciate the little things here in Trinidad and Tobago. The people are so passionate about their country, their culture and their food.

The latest excursions were to the Temple in the Sea and a quick stop to an Indian Museum. Prior to going to the temple I decided to do some research on the history of the Temple in the Sea. The Temple in the Sea is actually a temple constructed by one man, Sewdass Sadhu who fought hard just to have a place to worship. During a time where public temples or acts of Hinduism were illegal in Trinidad, Sadhu went against the government’s authority and displayed his religion publicly. Later Sadhu went to jail and his temple was demolished. In 1994, the temple was rebuilt and restored as a place of worship. A statue of Sewdass Sadhu himself now stands upon the shore. Inside the temple there were beautiful hand crafted and painted figures of Hindu ideals. There was also a view of the Caribbean Sea from the temple.

Afterwards we went to the Indian Caribbean Museum. The museum restricted photography for the purpose of preserving the history. I found that to be interesting that this particular museum respects that history of its culture and find it to be sacred. In the museum was a grand amount of endless stories and acts of triumph by many Indians in Trinidad. Based on the brief dialogue of the worker in the museum, it is safe to say Indians have made a great mark in Trinidad and will continue to do so.

Overall my time here in Trinidad has been a memorable and an experience that I will never forget.  As we approach this last week I am sure we will learn more interesting facts.  I am looking forward to the next stop which will be Tobago!

  Photo2: Students on a boat tour of the Caribbean Sea.

Photo3: ASU Students Swimming in the Caribbean Sea. 

Entry #10

Submitted by: Brittany Welch

Senior Social Work Major

Our second stop, Tobago, the second island that makes up the country of T and T!  We arrived in Tobago early Friday morning and jumped right into the fun.  We rode up the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea sides of the coast of the island, viewing all the scenery that was different from Trinidad.  In Tobago, everyone was more laid back and welcoming and it was not as crowded on the streets.  Our first stop was a restaurant built into a treehouse called Jemmas on the coast of the Caribbean Sea.  I really enjoyed my meal of baked barbecue chicken, salad with a ginger dressing, rice, bread fruit and vegetables. After lunch, we hiked through the rain forest to reach Argyle waterfall.  The waterfall itself was very beautiful.  As a group, we did go to the top to experience the nature spa, but was not brave enough to jump off in the pool at the bottom.  My biggest fear of being in the water was the fish that were swimming so closely to us.

Saturday, we went on a boat tour aboard the “Cool Running’s”  that took us on the Caribbean Sea in route to the Nylon Pool and Buccoo Reef.  The Buccoo Reef is one of the most accessible coral reefs in the Caribbean. It is a protected marine park located a short distance off Pigeon Point and store Bay beaches. The reef has a fascinating, colorful underwater life. Along the route to the nylon pool, we noticed how the ocean changed colors and observed the fish underneath.  The Nylon Pool is in the center of the ocean but it is shallow, only about two-three feet.  “Imagine swimming in a pool of beautiful, clear waters and becoming five years younger… that is the legend that surrounds Tobago’s famous Nylon Pool. Although the legend itself has not been proven, the pool attracts more than 40,000 people yearly. According to the tour operator, the history of the name stemmed from Princess Margaret’s visit to the pool in 1962. She saw the beauty of the pool and declared it should be renamed the Nylon Pool. (The pool was originally named the Dance Poo)”. We were able to get off the boat and swim, and we were not deterred by the rain.  My favorite part is when were able to snorkel not far from the Buccoo Reef . That was the first time I have ever done it and I would like to try it again.  While underneath I saw a sting ray, fish, and an octopus.  The tour guides said that I had a very good eye because the season that octopus come out is in October. Overall, I enjoyed my experience in both Trinidad and Tobago, and I would like to come back.                                      

Change for the Better

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Photos: Albany State University New Student Orientation Fall Session Friday, June 27


Moving Albany State University forward is a challenge that requires sacrifice, commitment and a lot of hard work. Some of this change will require us to look at things differently, act more responsibly and open our minds to new ways of doing things. Each day, I engage with students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends who all want to see Albany State get bigger, better and stronger. With this common goal, I believe that we can do more than dream of ASU’s potential, but we can make her Potential. Realized.


To realize this potential, we must make a greater investment to ASU. Alumni must give back financially to help sustain our current and future student body. Modest, consistent donations will be the life blood for student recruitment and retention. Our students must invest their efforts into academics, but also redefine what it means to be an ASU student. I’ve already called upon our faculty and staff to evaluate our processes and procedures to make sure that we are an efficient and effective operation. Most importantly, all of us must improve customer service to each other. The way we communicate and work together places an intrinsic value upon the ASU experience. Each of us play an important role, and we owe it to each other and to the dream of Dr. J.W. Holley to further his vision and enact changes that will ultimately better the institution.
When we make changes that require you to sacrifice by paying a little extra for an athletic event or working a few extra minutes or perhaps taking on additional responsibilities here and there, remember that the change you’ve been asked to make is designed to make ASU a better place.

By: Dr. Art Dunning, Interim President of Albany State University 

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