The Present And Future Of Dalton State

Dalton State has a rich history and a strong record of success. Adapting to the changing world is essential to remaining relevant and continuing to produce successful graduates.

As we update our strategic plan, we are evaluating our mission, vision, values and the goals we will be focusing on and working toward for the next few years. We have gathered a great deal of input from nearly 300 individuals who participated in our survey and forums. It warms my heart to see this level of engagement across campus and among our external stakeholders.

It is clear to me how much this community cares about Dalton State and understands the value we bring in educating people and preparing them to become contributing members of our region as employees, spouses, parents, taxpayers, voters and more.

This work has also shed light on the awareness across the campus and community about who we are. There are so many great things happening here. There is too much to tell in this column so I will summarize a few of the highlights I believe everyone should know about today’s Dalton State College.

Preparing students to be successful employees: Most of our students are pursuing four-year degrees, but we also offer a wide array of certificates and associate degrees. We are committed to delivering programs in subjects that will prepare students to fill the employment needs of our region including teachers, health professionals, a variety of STEM fields, and an array of business careers. In addition, we offer other degree programs with concentrations in specific areas to help ensure students are prepared for local employment. For example, English and history majors may also obtain credentials to become high school teachers. In this next phase of our strategic plan, we will be monitoring and measuring outcomes related to employment and other post-graduation goals of our students in addition to retention and graduation rates.

Relevant academic programs and services: By continuously evaluating our academic programs and future needs with the input of local employers, we ensure we are producing graduates ready to live and work and raise their families in Northwest Georgia. We listen to local employers about their needs as we develop new programs and update existing programs. We pay close attention to what our students tell us are the barriers to their success and we look for ways to minimize those challenges. We want every student who enters Dalton State to graduate and successfully obtain employment afterward. Of the December 2019 graduates who indicated employment on our survey, 78% said they already had full-time employment at the time of graduation. Of those with employment in hand, 81% were employed throughout our state with 70% employed right here in Northwest Georgia.

Partnering with our community: Students across all academic/career fields are engaged in community service throughout the year. Many of our academic majors and programs, such as social work, require civic engagement. And many of our non-academic activities involve service. For example, the members of homecoming court participate annually in a service project. Each of our student athletes participates in a variety of service opportunities each year. Even our mascot Rage is known to show up for special community events. Our Wright School of Business is an active partner downtown in the Dalton Innovative Accelerator and Pitch DIA competitions. Our teacher candidates participate in many literacy initiatives in cooperation with our local schools in addition to the student teaching practicum hours they spend in classrooms. Several of our faculty serve as judges for the annual FIRST Robotics competition held each spring here in Dalton. And a number of our faculty volunteer their time and talents to host a variety of summer camps for the youth in our area every year. We will continue to engage in these kinds of activities.

Good stewards of our resources: We know our community needs us to be both high quality AND affordable. Our tuition and fees are among the lowest in the nation, and yet many of our academic programs have special accreditations beyond the required institutional accreditation, indicating we meet the highest standards of these specific career fields. Meanwhile, we are becoming recognized nationally as a leader in undergraduate education, most recently ranked 15th for Best Undergraduate Teaching among 124 Southern Regional Colleges by U.S. News & World Report. We are continuously reviewing our practices and finding ways to economize without sacrificing the quality of our services to students and will continue to do so.

I am deeply grateful for our community. Whether you participate in a survey, serve on an advisory board, donate to our scholarship fund or simply attend a Dalton State sponsored event, you are helping ensure we are the college this community needs and deserves. As we prepare to announce our updated strategic plan for the next four to five years, I hope you see yourself as part of our future and I hope you will continue to engage with Dalton State. Come see for yourself all we are doing! If you wish to receive regular updates on all Dalton State is doing, please follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and/or Snapchat; visit our website regularly; check out our stories in The Daily Citizen-News and/or subscribe to our monthly newsletter, Roadrunner Roundup, by emailing [email protected].