History of Albany State University

Founded in 1903, Albany State University continues to provide leadership in academic excellence, social change, and economic impact. A nationally top-ranked HBCU, ASU serves an increasingly diverse student body and community by offering a uniquely comprehensive array of programs, from associate to graduate degrees.

Joseph Winthrop Holley, the institution’s founder and first president, established the Albany Bible and Manual Training Institute in Albany, Georgia. The new school was successful in its mission to provide religious and basic education, as well as teacher training to the local black population. In 1917, the state of Georgia began providing financial support to the school, granting it two-year status. The school added training in agriculture and was renamed the Georgia Normal and Agricultural College.

The institution eventually joined the University System of Georgia and, in 1943, was granted four-year status. Concentrating on teacher education and home economics, the school was again renamed, this time as Albany State College. Over the next few years, the College added majors in the humanities, social sciences, education, and health sciences.

After increasing the number of faculty with doctorate degrees by more than fifty percent, Albany State College began offering graduate degrees in 1981. With the growing success of the graduate programs, the Board of Regents, in 1996, approved the renaming of the institution to Albany State University. In the 21st century, the University continued to strengthen its mission, attracting nationally renowned scholars and researchers to its faculty and preparing students for leadership.

As ASU continued to grow, so did a newly established junior college in the Albany area. Founded in 1963, Albany Junior College provided students in Southwest Georgia and beyond access to higher education. When doors officially opened in 1966, 620 students enrolled in the institution. In 1987, the USG removed the word junior from all of its two-year institutions and the College became Darton College.

As part of its mission to serve its students and the region, Darton College committed to expanding its programs in nursing and the health sciences, expanding to 13 programs. As a result of this and other initiatives, such as the expansion of online programs, enrollment more than doubled after the year 2000. In this period, the campus facilities also grew, including the addition of a 427-seat theater and a massive physical education complex, among other improvements. In 2012, upon USG approval of the College’s first four-year program, in nursing, the institution’s name was changed to Darton State College.

On November 10, 2015, the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia voted unanimously to begin the process of consolidating Albany State University and Darton State College. That same day, Dr. Arthur N. Dunning became ASU’s permanent president. Click here to learn more about the consolidation.

The newly established university retains the name Albany State University and unifies the distinction, values, and missions of the two institutions. One of Georgia’s diverse, educational gems, Albany State University continues a combined legacy of more than 100 years of excellence in teaching and learning. The University prepares students to be effective contributors to a globally diverse society, where knowledge and technology create opportunities for personal and professional success.


Joseph Winthrop Holley, D.D., LL.D. (1903-1943)

Aaron Brown, Ph.D., LL.D., Ed.D. (1943-1954)

William H. Dennis, LL.D. (1954-1965)

Thomas Miller Jenkins, J.D., LL.D. (1965-1969)

Charles L. Hayes, Ed.D. (1969-1980)

Billy C. Black, Ph.D. (1980-1996)

Portia Holmes Shields, Ph.D. (1996-2005)

Everette J. Freeman, Ed.D. (2005-2013)

Arthur N. Dunning, Ph.D. (2013-2018)

Marion Ross Fedrick, Ed.D. (2018-2024)