Two Albany colleges lack presidents

In the space of 48 hours, both of the state’s public colleges in Albany found themselves without fulltime presidents.

University System officials said the fact that presidential vacancies occurred at both Albany State University and Darton State College at virtually the same time was a coincidence, with neither incident related to the other.

It still could be a year or more before both colleges have a president who’s been appointed by the chancellor and approved by the Board of Regents.

One of the vacancies happened voluntarily, while the other was a forced resignation.

Last Wednesday, the University System announced that Albany State President Everette J. Freeman had been named president of the Community College of Denver and would step down from the ASU job on Oct. 31.

Two days later, Peter Sireno resigned abruptly as Darton’s president, a resignation that reportedly was demanded by Chancellor Hank Huckaby.

University System officials refused to disclose the reasons for Sireno’s hasty departure. “We don’t comment on personnel matters,” said spokesman John Millsaps.

The Albany Herald reported that Sireno was ousted “after SACS (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools) reaccreditation issues, questionable payroll coding issues in regard to the way several of the school’s coaches were paid and the heat-related death last month of freshman wrestler Ben Richards.”

The newspaper also quoted from an email Sireno sent to the college foundation’s trustees:

Early yesterday afternoon Chancellor (Hank) Huckaby informed me that he and the Board of Regents have decided that new leadership is needed at Darton State College. Therefore, as requested, I have tendered my resignation, effective immediately.

Please accept my heartfelt appreciation for all the support you have shown me and have given to Darton State College. Together we have accomplished many things on behalf of Darton State College to promote quality education and career opportunities for Darton State’s students and the Southwest Georgia community.

Millsaps said Freeman’s decision to leave Albany State for the Colorado job was “voluntary and coincidental.”

“He had actually accepted the position earlier but Colorado law requires a 14 day waiting period or something like that before a final decision can be made,” Millsaps said in an email.

The University System released a statement Friday afternoon that said Paul Jones, the senior vice president for finance and administration at Georgia College & State University in Milledgeville, would replace Sireno as interim president of Darton and would serve until a permanent replacement was appointed.

No interim president has been named yet to replace Freeman at Albany State and there was no firm date as to when permanent presidents would be appointed.

“We don’t like to have too many searches going at once,” Millsaps said. “We are about to finish one at Middle Georgia State College and have interim presidents serving at Georgia Highlands College, Georgia Gwinnett College and Georgia Perimeter College, all of whom have served several months or longer, so we will need to get those searches underway.”

“It is not unusual for an interim to serve a year or more,” Millsaps added.

© 2013 by The Georgia Report


Tags: Albany State , college presidents , Darton State , Hank Huckaby , Peter Sireno , University System