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Magazine SUMMER 2013


Highly Unexpected: SPSU partners with the High Museum


Meet three alums who helped shape the city of Athens PAGE 28 SPSUTeach: Not your typical teacher education program PAGE 16

CONTENTS Highly Unexpected

Meet three SPSU alums who helped shape the city of Athens

Marian Alicea ’13 excels in academics, service, and loyalty

STUDENT EXPERIENCE 10 Highly Unexpected

Features 26 Dr. Joyce Mills: SPSU’s librarian turns

a page

14 Marian Alicea ’13 excels in academics, service, and loyalty 20 Co-op/internship program on the rise 22 At home on campus: Residential boom at Southern

Alumni profile

Polytechnic State University

28 Meet three SPSU alums who helped

shape the city of Athens

athletics 34 Lady Hornets rebound and defy the odds

academics 16 SPSUTeach: definitely not your typical teacher

education program 24 Articulation agreement with Georgia Military College

Southern Polytechnic State University 1100 South Marietta Parkway Marietta, GA 30060-2896 678-915-7351

Editor: Sylvia Carson, APR Director of Public Relations Co-editor: Diane Payne Associate Director of Public Relations

Photographers: Christopher Oquendo, Ashley Schenck, Becky Stein, Cassie Wright

Contributing Writers: Amanda Blanton, Donna Harris, Cristel Mohrman, Diane Payne

Vice President for Advancement: Dr. Ron D. Dempsey

Design: The Adsmith

President’s corner

Greetings from SPSU! With this spring’s commencement, over 500 new graduates have joined the alumni of Southern Polytechnic State University. They are headed for jobs, graduate school, travel, and a future of applying their education to solve real-world problems and to make the world a better place. We are proud of them all — and I hope they are reading this magazine! Here at SPSU, we are always looking for ways to stay connected with alumni. To do this effectively, we need feedback about how we are doing. Many of you recently provided your perspective about

• Loyalty among alumni is almost equally strong for the graduate’s major or academic department and for the university overall. This differs slightly from the national average (in which loyalty to the institution is typically stronger than to the department), but this information is consistent with the feedback our alumni have provided to us in the past. The continuing connections that alumni have with their home departments are impressive — and important to the university. • The feedback about social media sites (LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.) is mixed. Alumni consider these communication methods to be less important than the website and the magazine, but SPSU’s efforts in these areas rank relatively high. More than 40 percent of alumni report that they would welcome more interaction through these vehicles.

SPSU’s efforts to strengthen communications with our alumni, friends, and supporters through both an alumni survey last fall and

So, in response to the feedback from alumni and the other

a separate questionnaire about this magazine. Thanks to all of you

readers of this magazine, we’ve focused this issue on the topics

who participated. You provided valuable information that will help us

you have indicated are most interesting. You will find articles about

improve our publications and communications with you.

students, alumni, new programs, faculty, and staff. Together, these stories highlight the exciting activity here at Southern Polytechnic

Here are a few of the messages we heard from these surveys:

— and the ways in which the university continues to build value and name recognition for the degrees we offer. In the next six months,

• A driving factor in your overall opinion of SPSU is value and respect for your degree. The value of your SPSU degree is critically important, and you are interested in news and information that highlight that value.

we’ll be undertaking market research to establish a baseline for

• Career issues are also important to alumni, and you have indicated that finding job opportunities is a high priority for you. You’re looking to the university to help in that process.

faculty, staff, donors, and supporters — helps increase the value of

• Readers of this magazine are particularly interested in student experiences, student achievements, the curriculum, the expansion and growth of facilities, and the future directions of the university.

graduates. Thanks for helping us get the word out — and thanks for

• The most important ways you like to get information from the university are by e-mail and on the SPSU website, followed by this magazine and electronic newsletters. We’re continuously working to improve all of these communication tools. As one example, SPSU’s website is being redesigned to become responsive to whatever device you use to view it. Your feedback is important in helping us identify areas to improve.

how SPSU’s degrees and academic reputation are perceived by prospective students and the general public. Each member of the university community — alumni, students, SPSU degrees as well. Your contributions to your professions and to the region strengthen SPSU’s reputation and the employability of the feedback that helps us find ways to communicate with you more effectively! I hope to see you around campus soon!

Lisa A. Rossbacher, Ph.D. President Southern Polytechnic State University


University news Briefs

SPSU experienced second-largest enrollment increase in University System


outhern Polytechnic State University’s fall 2012 enrollment increased to 6,202 students, a leap of 6.9 percent over the fall 2011 total of 5,799 students. Only

Enrollment Increase by percent

one university among the 31 institutions within the University System of Georgia experienced a larger increase according to the Board of Regents’ Fall 2012 Enrollment Report. Georgia Gwinnett College

A significant number of these new students were attracted by the university’s new academic programs. For example, SPSU’s evening engineering programs as well as programs in new media arts, accounting, and computer game design and development have become very popular. SPSU is also seeing a resurgence of interest in the computer


science program. Dr. Han Reichgelt, dean of the School of

existing programs and, therefore, increased awareness of them,” Services. “We have developed a more extensive communications plan for recruiting prospective students — including more personal contact, letters, postcards, and calls from the call center that we established several years ago,” he added. The recruiting open houses have also continued to be

University of West Georgia

said Dr. Ron Koger, vice president for Student and Enrollment

critical in providing potential students with experiences and insights into opportunities at SPSU, he said. The university has seen a high conversion rate from prospective students who attend an open house to enrolled students.


SPSU Magazine Summer 2013




Georgia Southern University

admissions have borne fruit. “We have improved the marketing of

Kennesaw State University

These numbers also make it clear that the efforts of Student and Enrollment Services in recent years to boost recruitment and

North Georgia College & State University

majors account for one out of every four SPSU students.

Southern Polytechnic State University

Computing and Software Engineering (CSE), pointed out that CSE

+1.8% +1.8%

AT&T Georgia presented Southern Polytechnic State University with a check for $25,000 in support of the university’s teacher education program, SPSUTeach. Shown here are (left to right): Dr. George Stickel, co-director of SPSU-Teach; Don Barbour, regional director of AT&T Georgia; SPSUTeach students Elizabeth Stephenson and Wayne Dunn (president and vice president, respectively of a newly formed SPSU organization, Students for Excellence in Education); Dr. Alan Gabrielli, SPSUTeach co-director; and SPSU President Lisa A. Rossbacher.

AT&T gives SPSUTeach major gift


T&T has provided major support to SPSUTeach, Southern

enabling a broader spectrum of middle and high school students to

Polytechnic State University’s education program,

gain access to the STEM pipeline.”

through a $25,000 gift to fund the purchase of high-tech equipment to help student teachers. The gift enables SPSU students seeking teacher certification in biology, chemistry, mathematics, and physics to use this equipment to develop lessons for under-achieving students.

“I want to thank Southern Polytechnic State University for launching this program [SPSUTeach] to provide a sharp focus on STEM education for our students,” said State Rep. Earl Ehrhart. “Preparing our young people for high-skill/high-wage jobs is critical for the economic health of our community and our state.”

The mission of SPSUTeach is to prepare students to teach

“AT&T is proud

curricula for grades six through 12 in the fields of science,

to support Southern

technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). SPSU teacher

Polytechnic State

candidates earn degrees in their chosen fields along with a teaching certificate. This means SPSUTeach is increasing the number of students entering the university’s STEM programs, which ultimately will


University,” said Don Barbour, regional director of AT&T Georgia. “The

increase the number of college graduates ready to embark on STEM-

importance of STEM

related careers.

education can’t be

“The computers and other equipment funded by this gift are

underestimated as

enabling us to prepare strong teacher candidates with instructional

we build tomorrow’s

skills that integrate technology into the classroom,” said SPSU


President Lisa A. Rossbacher. “Graduates will be prepared to teach in Title I schools and pursue careers in high-needs schools, thereby Southern Polytechnic State University


SPSU adds M.S. in Civil Engineering


outhern Polytechnic State University received the approval of the Board of Regents in fall 2012 to offer a Master of Science (M.S.) in Civil Engineering housed

in the Civil and Construction Engineering department within the School of Engineering, effective fall 2013. This applied graduate degree will allow SPSU to meet the increased demand for post-baccalaureate education in civil engineering as the educational requirements for professional engineering licensure increase. The American Society of Civil Engineers, Georgia Board of Professional Engineers, National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying, and the National Academy of Engineering have concurred on the need to increase engineers’ educational requirements to include 30 hours beyond the bachelor of science degree. The most direct way for engineers to fulfill this requirement will be through completion of a master’s degree. SPSU’s M.S. in Civil Engineering will offer concentrations in

University hires first legal counsel

three critical areas: • Structural and geotechnical engineering; • Transportation and pavement engineering; and • Environmental engineering and water resources.


lana Kyriakakis joined Southern Polytechnic State University this spring as the university’s first in-house counsel. In her new position,

reporting directly to SPSU President Lisa A. Rossbacher,

This applied graduate degree will allow SPSU to meet the increased demand for postbaccalaureate education in civil engineering as the educational requirements for professional engineering licensure increase.

The structural and geotechnical

administration at the university. Kyriakakis was

engineering concentration will be implemented first, with the other two concentrations phased in over time. The program is expected to enroll 20 students during its

Alana Kyriakakis provides legal support in all areas of instruction and administration at the university.

previously a legal advisor at Georgia Regents University (GRU), formerly Georgia Health Sciences University, in Augusta. Before that, Kyriakakis had a private practice as

first year using existing institutional resources,

an employment litigator, often working with University

with a cohort of 40

System of Georgia institutions and other state agencies

students expected by

as a special assistant attorney general (appointed by

the third year.

the attorney general of Georgia).

The M.S. in Civil Engineering will be structured to meet the

Kyriakakis earned a bachelor’s degree in

needs of non-traditional students, too, through a combination

communication from the University of Oklahoma in

of evening, daytime, and online offerings.

Norman, with a minor in Greek. She received her law

Since 2006, SPSU has added 20 new academic degree

degree from the University of South Carolina in Columbia,

programs, bringing the total of undergraduate degrees offered

where she earned a number of honors, including serving

to 41 and graduate degrees to 13. The university now offers 10

on the editorial board for the South Carolina Law Review.

different engineering degrees. 6

she provides legal support in all areas of instruction and

SPSU Magazine Summer 2013

University news Briefs

SPSU hosted several luminaries in 2012-13 outhern Polytechnic State University welcomed several notable guests to campus during S the 2012-13 academic year, including the chief justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, and a world-renowned entrepreneur currently starring in a popular reality show.

Carol Hunstein, chief justice, Supreme Court of Georgia Georgia Chief Justice Carol Hunstein spoke to students about the intersection of technology, business, and the law in an October 2012 presentation sponsored by the Business Administration department. She was appointed to the state Supreme Court by Gov. Zell Miller in 1992 and is only the second woman in history to serve as a permanent member of the court. She has since been re-elected by voters three times and took office as chief justice on July 1, 2009. Chief Justice Hunstein won election to the Superior Court of DeKalb County in 1984, becoming its first female member. She was also the first woman to serve as president of the Council of Superior Court Judges.

Isabel Wilkerson,

Daymond John,

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist

founder/CEO, FUBU

Isabel Wilkerson gave a presentation in

Daymond John, one of the “sharks” on ABC-

January on her book, “The Warmth of Other

TV’s “Shark Tank,” delivered a presentation

Suns,” which tells the story of African-

in February as part of SPSU’s Cross-Cultural

Americans who left the South between

Communications Series.

1915 and 1970 and moved to the Northeast, Midwest, and West in search of a better life. Wilkerson won the Pulitzer Prize for her

John is an entrepreneur, investor, author, and motivational speaker, and his presentation was based on his book,

work as Chicago bureau chief of The New

“The Brand Within: The Power of Branding

York Times in 1994, making her the first

from Birth to the Boardroom.” His clothing

African-American woman to win a Pulitzer

company, FUBU, took the stage in 1992,

Prize and the first African-American to win

growing into an internationally acclaimed

for individual reporting.

brand with peak revenues of $350 million

Wilkerson has appeared on CBS’ “60

in 1998. The company also received several

Minutes” and the “NBC Nightly News” and

honors for entrepreneurial achievement.

on national networks such as MSNBC and

In 2010, FUBU underwent a rebranding


campaign and is now known in the United States as FB Legacy.

Southern Polytechnic State University


Architecture professors recognized for talents, service to profession Carpenter



t was a big year for Southern Polytechnic State

degree in building science and architecture from the University

University’s Architecture department, with two

of Southern California in Los Angeles. He also holds a certificate

professors earning major awards and a third winning a

in architecture, energy, and environment from Lund University in

prestigious competition. First, Dr. William Carpenter, professor of architecture, received the Bernard B. Rothschild Award from the American Institute of

Sweden. Prof. Dytoc is currently a doctoral candidate in education and instructional technology at Georgia State University. In March, Dr. Saleh Uddin, professor of architecture, won

Architects Georgia (AIA Georgia) in December 2012. This is the

a prestigious competition to design a 450,000-square-foot

highest award given by AIA Georgia and recognizes the most

multi-purpose facility for the Gulshan Club, an exclusive social

distinguished service to the profession of architecture in the state

organization in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Dr. Uddin has spent his teaching

by an architect who exemplifies the principles of the profession.

breaks at the American International University at Bangladesh

A fellow of the American Institute of Architects (FAIA) and

(AIUB). He partnered with another AIUB lecturer and supervised

a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design accredited

a team of 14 skilled students in developing the design that was

professional (LEED AP), Dr. Carpenter has spent 25 years in the

selected as the winner from among 120 entries. He will return to

field and was the founder and president of Lightroom, a nationally

Dhaka this summer to serve as the principal architect coordinating

recognized design firm in Decatur, Ga. He has taught architectural

the consultants’ and engineers’ work on the construction project.

design, design-build, and theory and criticism at SPSU for 20 years.

Dr. Uddin is the coordinator of SPSU’s Design Foundation

A past president of AIA Georgia, he serves on AIA’s National Board

program and is also the founding head of the AIUB Architecture

of Directors.

department. He has published four books internationally. He is also

Then, in February, professor of architecture Bronne Dytoc

the editor of “Representation,” the national journal of the Design

was named one of the country’s 30 Most Admired Educators by

Communication Association in the United States, and is a past

the Design Futures Council, an interdisciplinary network of design,

president of this organization.

product, and construction leaders focused on innovations in and

Dr. Uddin has had several of his designs built or published,

the future of architecture. Educators and administrators from the

notably the 20-story administrative building of the Telephone &

disciplines of architecture, industrial design, interior design, and

Telegraph Board in Dhaka and several prominent residences in

landscape architecture were considered for inclusion.

Dhaka and Amman, Jordan.

Prof. Dytoc has been an assistant professor of architecture at SPSU since January 2009. He received his undergraduate degree in architecture from the University of the Philippines, and a master’s



SPSU Magazine Summer 2013

University news Briefs

Dr. Deidra Hodges named SPSU’s Teacher of the Year r. Deidra Hodges, an assistant professor of electrical


engineering in the School of Engineering, was recognized as Southern Polytechnic State University’s 2012 Teacher

of the Year. As Teacher of the Year, Dr. Hodges represented SPSU at the annual Cobb County Chamber of Commerce teacher appreciation events and also delivered a research-based presentation on campus. Dr. Hodges holds a Ph.D. from the University of South Florida in Tampa, and bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Columbia University in New York — all in electrical engineering. She also

Dr. Hodges was awarded a competitive National Science Foundation Broadening Participation Research Initiation Grant in Engineering.

flight software for the NASA Space Shuttle Program. In addition, she worked for Martin Marietta Manned Space Systems on the proposed unmanned launch vehicle called Shuttle C.

She joined the SPSU faculty in 2009. In 2011, Dr. Hodges was

holds a bachelor’s degree in physics from Dillard University in New

awarded a competitive National Science Foundation Broadening


Participation Research Initiation Grant in Engineering. She received

From 1988 to 1996, she served as an officer in the

a two-year grant of $175,000 to develop copper, zinc, tin, and sulfur

Engineering Field Division of the U.S. Navy Reserves in Houston. Dr.

thin films and solar cells. Her research could lead to lowering the

Hodges also worked for IBM’s Federal Systems Division in Houston

cost of fabricating high-efficiency, solar-cell devices through the use

and was assigned to onboard space shuttle systems and avionics

of these abundant, low-cost, and nontoxic elements.

Southern Polytechnic State University


Highly unexpected


SPSU Magazine Summer 2013

Who says polytechnics and the arts don’t mix? For the past two years, Southern Polytechnic State

staff, SPSU has played key roles in three different exhibits

University students and faculty have been mixing it up

to date, each involving very different mediums and

big time with Atlanta’s High Museum of Art in an unlikely


alliance that has exceeded everyone’s expectations.

First, there was the High’s “Modern by Design” exhibit

Think about it — the leading art museum in the

in summer 2011. One component of the exhibition was

southeastern United States partnering with a university

Dutch designer Joris Laarman’s “Digital Matter,” which

best known for educating engineers. What could possibly

had a robot creating a piece of furniture without human

come of this?

assistance. Programmers and technicians were needed

“It’s a man-bites-dog story,” said Dr. Zvi Szafran,

to service and maintain the robot, and that’s where a

vice president for Academic Affairs. “SPSU is the exact

group of SPSU mechatronics engineering majors came

opposite of the kind of school you’d expect to enter

in. Working with the artist and the staff of the High, the

a partnership with an art museum; we don’t have a

students helped set up the robot and got it working, and

traditional art program. But design is a critical part of art,

then returned weekly throughout that summer to perform

and we have engineers, architects, and new media arts


students who have studied design. It’s extraordinary for

“The opening of the “Modern by Design” exhibit

the High to partner with a school not known for the arts

coincided serendipitously with the Polytechnic Summit

and that emphasizes applied learning.”

that SPSU was hosting,” said Dr. Szafran. “So, we held the

“Michael Shapiro, the director of the High

Summit’s reception at the High, and it was very cool to be

Museum, strongly believes in developing partnerships

able to show participants from polytechnic institutions all

to strengthen and broaden the museum’s scope and

over the country as well as several foreign countries what

to pool resources,” said Julia Forbes, head of museum

SPSU students were doing.”

interpretation, citing the museum’s unprecedented three-

In fall 2011, SPSU launched a Bachelor of Arts in

year partnership with the Musée du Louvre in Paris and a

New Media Arts degree, and when the High expressed a

more recent relationship with the Museum of Modern Art

desire to make the museum experience more meaningful

in New York. “Michael was very interested in exploring the

to people ages 35 and under, Dr. Mark Nunes, chair of

benefits of affiliating with colleges and universities, and

SPSU’s English, Technical Communication, and Media Arts

he started the conversations that led to this relationship.”

department, and Dr. Jim Werner of the New Media Arts

SPSU is the first institution in the University System of Georgia to have such a partnership, and since spring

program stepped up to the plate. “It’s become necessary these days for art museums

2011, it has led to some very interesting and innovative

and galleries to embrace new media in order to better

projects. In addition to SPSU Nights at the museum, field

reach younger patrons who are interested in new and

trips for classes, internships, free admission for students,

unique ways of interacting with the art and space,” Dr.

and discounted museum memberships for faculty and

Werner said.

SPSU architecture students (left to right: Kainoa Keomaka, Julia Cassidy, Fiorella Dimiceli, Carlos Castillo, and Hakim Hasan) pose with their exhibit "A Living Machine" featured in Atlanta's High Museum as part of a unique partnership between the museum and the university. SPSU is the first institution in the University System of Georgia to have such a partnership with the museum. Southern Polytechnic State University


student experience

“Digital engagement is so important for us,” agreed Forbes. “We had already

The GPS Project – which Drs. Nunes and

students much more than just free access,” Dr. Zamani said. “It is about education and

developed a good relationship with Mark

Werner are working with the High to take

learning a variety of ways in which informal

Nunes, and he was a tremendous help

from concept to reality – will utilize GPS

learning can take place outside our formal

when we sat down to talk about [how to

mapping to create an app allowing visitors

educational settings. Our affiliation with the

best engage with younger generations].”

to track themselves and others walking

museum can enrich, extend, and support classroom learning.”

The research done by Drs. Nunes

through the museum so that the app’s

and Werner indicated that people in their

users could see where people were and

20s and 30s are eager for participatory

what was grabbing their attention.

experiences and want to have a voice in what they’re seeing.

The two projects – the concepts for

Dr. Zamani worked with the museum’s education staff to engage architecture students in preparing an exhibit displayed

which the museum showcased in November

in conjunction with the Frida & Diego:

2012 – “showed how well our students were

Passion, Politics, and Painting exhibit. Time

30 students from Dr. Nunes’ Media Theory

able to apply theory and practice in the arts

was extremely short, as it was already late

and Practice class and Dr. Werner’s Media

to a professional setting,” Dr. Werner said.

December, and the exhibit was set to open

Arts History class. Together they developed

“They showed what new media can do for

at the end of February.

two test projects: Choices and Voices and

the arts.”

The professors involved approximately

The GPS Project. “Choices and Voices” utilized a photo-

Barely a month later, Dr. Pegah Zamani,

She spent the holidays doing research on the artistic couples’ lives and their

an assistant professor of architecture

home/studio in Mexico City, which captured

sharing website,, that

who heads up the SPSU-High Museum

Dr. Zamani’s interest, as this area consisted

allowed people to take pictures of the art

Affiliation Committee, was inspired when

of two separate, rather industrial-looking

they found in their communities and upload

she heard about the High’s plans to stage

dwellings (one for Rivera, one for Kahlo)

them to Trover’s free mobile app, along with

a huge exhibition in spring centered on the

connected by a bridge. Dr. Zamani decided

information on the artist and where the

lives and work of artists Diego Rivera and

to focus on their home/studio — which

photo was taken. Anyone who took pictures

Frida Kahlo — one of the art world’s most

has been characterized as a factory or a

and tagged them #HighWithoutWalls had

intriguing couples.

machine for living – as a metaphor for their

their photos appear on the students’ Trover


“I consider the museum to be a

lives together and their work.

page in a virtual exhibit, the most popular of

platform for public pedagogy in many

which would be exhibited within the walls of

different ways. Given that, our affiliation

she interviewed more than 20 third- and

the High. The exhibit can still be viewed at

with the High Museum can offer our

fourth-year architecture students eager to

SPSU Magazine Summer 2013

When the spring semester started,

“Having architects interpret art is just very different, and that exemplifies what we are all about. None of these three exhibits we’ve done so far are what anyone could have expected from SPSU. ” – Dr. Zvi Szafran

that Saturday night. The High also displayed the Living Machine exhibit during the exhibition’s closing weekend in May, after which it was brought back to SPSU, where it will be displayed in the Architecture Building. Dr. Zamani’s student team included Carlos Castillo, Joseph Kainoa Keomaka, Julia Cassidy, Matt Rosenberg, Fiorella Dimiceli, and Hakim Hasan. “The idea of this project coming together in such a short period of time and giving our students the opportunity to have had their work exhibited at a major American art museum is just stunning and underlines how SPSU can be the coolest place ever,” said Dr. Szafran. “Having architects interpret art is just very different, and that exemplifies what we are all about,” “Modern by Design” exhibit

he continued. “None of these three exhibits we’ve done so far are what anyone could have expected from

volunteer their help with the extracurricular

Dr. Zamani added that her student

Southern Polytechnic. This is what

project and selected six to help her bring her

volunteers — several of whom knew

happens when you have imaginative

design ideas to life.

nothing about Rivera and Kahlo’s lives

faculty and capable students working

or work beforehand — worked with great

together on interesting things. How

models of the home/studio during a 10-day

dedication as a team. In the end, they all

cool is that?”

design charrette completed mostly during the

learned a great deal about the artists and

weekends in the architecture department’s

about preparing an exhibit for a major art

terms the SPSU-High Museum alliance

Digital Fabrication Woodshop, sometimes

museum. They even had to design and

as “mutually beneficial,” said talks

working through the night,” Dr. Zamani said.

construct the lighted platforms on which

are already underway to have SPSU’s

“We had to work very fast, and collaboration

the models were displayed.

computer gaming faculty help with an

“We built five different interpretive

was crucial. Without the generous support of

Their display, “A Living Machine: La

As for future plans, Forbes, who

exhibition planned for summer 2014.

the High Museum, the Museo Casa Estudio

Casa-Estudio de Diego Rivera y Frida Kahlo”

Diego Rivera y Frida Kahlo in Mexico City, the

(a dissection of the bridge in the home/

collaborations begin every semester

Architecture department, and the Digital

studio of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo),

and plans to offer SPSU faculty

Fabrication Woodshop, we could never have

was on display in the Wieland Lobby of the

mini-grants for proposals on ways to

accomplished what we did in such a short

High during the opening weekend of “Frida

enhance and expand on the High’s

period of time.”

& Diego,” and drew more than 1,000 people

upcoming exhibitions.

Dr. Szafran would like to see new

Southern Polytechnic State University


Marian Alicea ’13 excels in academics, service, and loyalty

Marian Alicea ’13 was born in Puerto Rico, but she calls Southern Polytechnic State University home.

“I learned it in school, but I couldn’t speak it,” she said. “I remember being at a summer camp. I would hide underneath the tables crying because I was too afraid to speak English.” She said sixth grade was horrible, but one year later she found herself on the honor roll. Years later, she was a college student, majoring in architecture – but not at SPSU.


“I wanted to be a fashion designer, but my dad said there was he civil engineering technology major graduated in May and worked hard to leave her legacy at the Marietta university. With a resume four pages long — and counting

— Alicea is still moving full steam ahead. But the road to get here was filled with fear, tragedy, and self-awareness, all of which fueled her drive and determination to succeed. Alicea was born in Puerto Rico and moved to Georgia in 1996, just in time for the Olympics. Her parents were divorced, and her mother, Georgina, worked for the Centers for Disease Control. Alicea recalls being terrified about speaking English.


SPSU Magazine Summer 2013

no money in it,” she recalled. Her love of art and talent in math and science led to a degree path in architecture. Eventually the buzz of the downtown college she was attending wasn’t what she wanted. “I wasn’t doing well there. I wasn’t happy.” Her major was also unfulfilling. Then she heard about Southern Poly. What was meant to be a temporary reprieve turned into countless opportunities for scholarships, research, internships, and mentoring. “At SPSU, I wasn’t just a number. I was extremely happy,” she said. “The professors still remembered my name, even after I

“At SPSU, I wasn’t just a number. I was extremely happy...I fell in love with SPSU.”

finished their classes. It was completely different from my first college experience. I fell in love with SPSU.” While she excelled academically, the death of her mother in 2010 became Alicea’s constant motivator for all things personal, professional, and cultural. She said her

student experience and participant in University of Illinois

middle of the Pacific and being away wasn’t

at Urbana-Champaign Multi-Cultural

the best idea!”

Engineering Recruitment for Graduate Student Education (MERGE). She added

a motivator for prospective students and

that having the opportunity to attend and

current freshmen and sophomores. She has

present at conferences gave her access

taken advantage of what the university has

to successful Hispanic women in her field

to offer and encourages others to build on

of study.

the school’s offerings.

Her dedication to mentorship is

her to pursue a major in science. “My mom had an M.S. in Occupational Health,” she said. “I decided to change majors after realizing I was more interested in the structural stability rather than the aesthetics of the building.” Another component of her drive was the lack of Hispanic women in engineering. Alicea said, “I used to think I was at a disadvantage, but I began to see it as an

activities. I took on the responsibilities

mother. “She instilled giving back and

of showing freshmen and sophomores

getting an education,” she said, recalling

interested in leadership how to stay

how her mother would serve as a translator


for health fairs.

research at Argonne National Laboratory

When Alicea wasn’t in class

in Downers Grove, Ill., this summer and

on campus, she could be found

will enroll at Virginia Tech in the fall to

among the lockers at metro Atlanta schools providing leadership and guidance to elementary, middle, and high school students. Her quest for knowledge won’t end with a bachelor’s degree. She was able to connect

saw how she was balancing her career and

with professionals through her involvement

family and being successful at both.”

in the American Society of Civil Engineers. different aspects of civil engineering and

growth at SPSU. As a fellow Hispanic person,

environmental engineering,” she said. This

she was able to connect with him on a

led to summer research opportunities that

cultural level as well as academic.

took her from Atlanta to Oak Ridge, Tenn.,

He would communicate about cultural such a cultural melting pot, but I keep my

pretty amazing. I got to take tours, work

culture and am OK with being Hispanic.”

in national labs, see super computers…I

for diversity.” Alicea said. Also, her desire to be a research leader dictates the need for a Ph.D. faculty position at her soon-to-be alma mater. “That’s how close I hold SPSU to my heart,” she said.

And it almost was in 2011, when the National Oceanic and Atmospheric

Women Engineers. Her awards and honors

Administration wanted to extend her stay in

ranged from designation as a Peach

Hawaii. But Alicea declined.

Participation (LSAMP) scholar, Women

STEM fields. I really saw there was a need

thought, ‘This could be me.’”

Professional Engineers and the Society of

State Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority

a limited number of people of color in the

“I had never done research before. I thought, ‘I’ll give it a try,’” she said. “It was

membership in the Society of Hispanic

“I want to expand my horizons. There is

and all the way to Honolulu.

awareness and how to live in America. It’s

Her involvement on campus included

environmental engineering.

“Through networking, I learned about

Ortiz, was also instrumental in Alicea’s

“He would give me such great advice.

pursue a master’s degree and doctorate in

However, her future might include a

inspiration. “She’s a woman in engineering. I

Another CET faculty member, Dr. Carlos

However, Alicea has left Marietta to continue her education. She is conducting

advantage.” She said CET Prof. Nancy Turner was an

“I tried to get students involved in

something else Alicea attributed to her

mother noticed her enjoyment in some courses more than others and encouraged

She wants her success at SPSU to be

“I needed to go back home and finish. I grew up on an island,” she said. “Being in the

in Electronics scholarship recipient, Southern Polytechnic State University



With the assistan ce

of $1.4 million in

Definitely Not

Your Typical

Race to the Top fu

nding from the sta te first polytechnic institutio n in the country to replic ate the nationally recognized UTeach program pioneere d by the University of Texas at Austin.

in 2011, SPSU became the

T 16

eacher education programs are not hard to find — approximately 40 colleges and universities in Georgia offer a bachelor’s degree in education. But rest assured, SPSUTeach is NOT your typical teaching program.

SPSU Magazine Summer 2013

Dr. George Stickel and Dr. Alan Gabrielli serve as codirectors of SPSUTeach, which is a unit of the School of Arts and Sciences. The program began enrolling students in spring 2012, had 28 enrollees this spring, and is on track to begin producing graduates


Teacher Educ ation Program

in spring 2014. Tightly focused on science, technology, engineering,

physics, or mathematics with a teacher education track leading to

and mathematics (STEM), fields which are desperately in need of

initial certification to teach secondary education (grades six-12).

more teachers, the program has approached teacher preparation very differently from traditional teacher education programs. Most programs award degrees in education with

And the program doesn’t skimp on the mastery of teaching in favor of content-area instruction. While the traditional teacher education program exposes students to actual field experiences

concentrations in specific content areas — English, history, and

in their final year, SPSU students have gotten into classrooms in

physical education, etc. But SPSUTeach graduates master their

Marietta and Cobb County schools from their first semester.

content area by earning bachelor’s degrees in biology, chemistry,

In fact, before they are officially admitted to the SPSUTeach

Southern Polytechnic State University


applied for and received an American Physical Society (APS) PhysicsQuest internship that will have her develop activities to teach physics concepts to middle school students this summer. “My experience in the classroom with elementary and middle school students during my Step 1 and Step 2 classes really set me apart from other applicants,” she reported. “During my interview, I was able to elaborate on many of my experiments in the classroom and my foundation in lesson plan development. Interestingly enough, my interviewer graduated from the University of Texas and went through the UTeach program herself. She was very familiar with the program and our introduction to the classroom at an early stage.” The third distinctive component of SPSUTeach is mentorship.

program, students must take two courses, called Step 1 and Step 2, to help them decide if a career in teaching is right for them. Field experiences give them a firsthand look at what goes

ation While the traditional teacher educ program exposes students to actual field experiences in their final year, SPSU students get out into classrooms in Marietta and Cobb County schools from their first semester.

on inside elementary school (Step 1) and middle school (Step 2) classrooms, and they learn to plan and evaluate lessons using the five E’s – engagement, exploration, explanation, elaboration, and evaluation. All other field experiences are at the high school level. “Having field experiences from the beginning helps you to decide if you really want to be a teacher or not,” said biology teachercertification track major Zachary Buning, who has plans to be among the first SPSUTeach graduates. “Some education programs do not put you in the classroom until the end, and by then, it is too late.” “I couldn’t be happier with the SPSUTeach program,” said Elizabeth Stephenson, a math major with the teacher-certification track and the first recipient of the President Rossbacher Endowed Scholarship. “I was an education major at my previous institution, and I wasn’t satisfied because there was no math in my life! Here at SPSU, I don’t have to choose between math and education. I’m getting the best of both worlds, and when I graduate, I’ll be able to use both to get students fired up about math.” Commenting on the program’s practice of exposing students to elementary, middle, and high school classrooms, Stephenson said, “I thought I might want to teach middle school, but now that I’ve had several experiences at the different grade levels, I know I want to teach high school because I’m more able to reason with and relate to the students, and the level of math they are learning is higher.” Jamie Garrett, a physics major with the teacher-certification track is especially appreciative of what the SPSUTeach program’s early introduction to classroom teaching has done for her. She 18

SPSU Magazine Summer 2013

Because of the high attrition rate among new teachers, each SPSUTeach student has a master teacher who follows the student’s progress from the first course through graduation and beyond. And SPSU’s master teachers, Jan Nourollahi and Cassandra Mathious, will be contacting former students for five years after graduation to encourage their development into exceptional teachers. Classroom teachers in elementary, middle, and high school also will serve as mentors throughout students’ coursework. “Our master teachers work exceptionally hard to place us in schools and classrooms that will create valuable learning experiences for us and our students,” said math major Wayne Dunn, who is in the teacher-certification track. “And the instructors I have shadowed for my teaching experiences have been great role models.” “As far as the master teachers go, we are so blessed,” Stephenson said. “They have helped all of us with every lesson we’ve had to teach. They are willing to go above and beyond, and that’s something you don’t find at a typical education program, or a typical university for that matter.” In its first 15 months of operation, SPSU’s teacher-education program has already experienced several milestones, according to Director George Stickel. Fall 2012 saw the addition of a 17-credit-hour Computer Science (CS) Endorsement program for already-certified teachers interested in adding this discipline as a content area. While initial certification programs in mathematics, biology,


chemistry, and physics are only available

With this hurdle cleared, “Our priorities

Promoting the SPSUTeach program

through on-campus classes, teachers in the

for teacher education are to increase

and recruiting more students is also a

CS Endorsement program can take hybrid

enrollment in all four initial certification

major goal of Students for Excellence in

courses, which offer both face-to-face and

programs and in the CS Endorsement,

Education (SEE), of which Stephenson is

online content. The practicum — in which

as well as to secure funding for student

president (alongside Dunn, vice president,

students will be supervised in the practical

scholarships, student support for apprentice

and Buning, secretary). The organization

application of the theories they’ve been

teaching, and for student tutors,” said Dr.

helps students in the program connect and

studying — will take place in close proximity

Stickel, who noted students are unable to

network with each other.

to the homes of teachers who live at a

work full time while doing their apprentice

distance from SPSU.


Dr. Stickel said he has been very happy with the progress being made concerning

An onsite evaluation team from

To this end, Dr. Stickel said he and the

the Georgia Professional Standards

teacher education program team recently

And we get asked by local school systems

Commission (PSC) visited the campus in

met with a consultant and the admissions

all the time, ‘When are you going to have

January and found that SPSU’s education

staff regarding recruitment strategies

graduates?’ They are really anxious to hire

programs met all standards. This spring,

and have been working with officials at

our students.”

the PSC Board of Commissioners formally

Chattahoochee Technical College and

approved the granting of certification for

Georgia Highlands College to get student

SPSUTeach graduates.


teacher education at SPSU. “We are on track.

October 2012


Two students (including Wayne Dunn) participated in the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education’s 20th Annual Bus Trip Across Georgia, which visited elementary, middle, and high schools, in addition to technical colleges

June 2011 Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia approves SPSU to offer bachelor’s degrees with teacher certification tracks in biology, chemistry, mathematics, and physics Race to the Top funding awarded to SPSU for replication of the University of Texas at Austin UTeach teacher-preparation program

December 2012 SPSU submitted institutional report on teacher education programs to Georgia Professional Standards Commission (PSC) as part of agency’s review and approval of programs

January 2013

Spring 2012

PSC onsite evaluation team visited campus and reported that SPSU had met all standards.

First students enrolled in four initial certification programs Jan Nourollahi hired as a master teacher

Spring 2013

Fall 2012 Dr. Erin Sutherland (physics education) and Dr. Claudia Spiro (math education) hired as education faculty members and Cassandra Mathious named as a master teacher First students enrolled in Computer Science Endorsement program AT&T gave SPSUTeach $25,000 for the purchase of high-tech equipment to help student teachers

Three SPSU students, including Elizabeth Stephenson, working with SPSU Assessment Technology Specialists Marka Ormsby and Robin Daniel, ran a 10-week after-school program for at-risk middle school children focusing on computational math

April 2013 PSC Board of Examiners agreed to recognize SPSU graduates who apply for initial certification

A look at SPSU’s teacher education program: Four degrees for which a teacher certification track is available

1 Bachelor of Science in Chemistry 2 Bachelor of Science in Physics

3 Bachelor of Science in Biology 4 Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics Southern Polytechnic State University


Co-op/Internship programs on the rise Facing a tough job market after graduation, more Southern Polytechnic State University students than ever are getting a jump on the competition by participating in the school’s internship and cooperative education (co-op) programs.


construction industry tomorrow and have enough knowledge to survive in the construction world.” Brasfield & Gorrie’s Senior Project Manager Adam Wheeler ’05, an SPSU

he number of students attending the

“Word-of-mouth has also been

alumnus, said “a large number” of the

Career Counseling Center’s 2012-13 co-

very powerful as students share their

company’s full-time employees come from

op/internship orientation kickoff “was

experiences with each other,” she said.

the co-op/internship programs at local

the highest it’s ever been at 147,” said Eileen O’Laughlin, assistant director of

Career Services. “Last spring, I had 75 active participants in the co-op program, and

Computer science major Katie Trivette of Marietta began work as a co-op for Cox Communications in January to gain work experience for her resume. “I have a better understanding of what

colleges — “one of our primary recruiting tools.” “It allows us, and the student, to get to know each other in a working environment without a major commitment

this year I have 124, so the numbers are

I want after graduation,” the 21-year-old

by either party up front,” he said, noting the

continuing to grow,” she said.

senior said, noting she’s done network

company averages 60 to 70 interns/co-ops

engineering testing and programming for

per semester.

O’Laughlin attributes the growth to several factors, including increased

online tools at Cox. “I’m looking for a job

awareness of the value of internships/co-

more focused on software development.”

ops and new marketing techniques.

Junior Taylor Lord, who has completed two co-op terms with Brasfield & Gorrie,

“I wanted to do the co-op program to gain some real experience in my field of study to put on my resume as well as begin building networks.” — Senior Brandon Hines


“I have confidence I could jump into the

SPSU Magazine Summer 2013

The SPSU alumnus said company officials look for students with “a good work ethic and a passion for our business.” “Experience in the industry is not

LLC, and plans to do a third this year, said

necessary at all,” he said. “We will train

co-ops gave him the opportunity to work

them in that part. Motivation, dedication,


and a passion for construction are the

“This allowed me to focus solely on the job, getting to know the people around

traits that the student needs to bring to the table.”

me in the company and learning the ways

Shaw Industries Group Inc. hires

of the company,” said Lord, a construction

about 150 co-ops/interns each year, many

management major.

from SPSU, said Shaw’s college recruiter

After meeting with Brasfield representatives at a career fair, the

Matthew Foy. “Southern Polytechnic continues to

Kennesaw resident said he “felt like I

educate and develop some of the best,

belonged in that company.”

brightest, and most passionate engineers

“The morale and everyday operations they explained lined up perfectly with me,

that we meet,” he said. By offering engineering students a

and I thought I would be a great fit for

chance to learn the skillset needed to work

the company,” said Lord, 22, noting he has

at Shaw, the company can “put students

been exposed to all phases of construction.

in those fast-paced, unique environments

student experience

supervision, prefer a “hands-on approach” to engineering, possess problem solving and evaluate whether they have the ability

company through some alumni and heard

to be truly successful in the world of

about the environment there.”

manufacturing,” Foy said. Shaw plant engineer Jordan Allen said

Hines said he’s responsible for projects ranging from “helping reallocate space for

the co-op/intern programs benefit both

storage to helping cut company costs by

the students, who have a “leg up” in their

$30,000 a year.”

job search, and the company, which can

“I have learned that you never know

evaluate how well they perform in Shaw’s

who is going to see your work, so be sure to


always put in the effort it deserves,” he said.

“For students, their work terms can almost be considered a year-long job interview for them to see if they like Shaw,”

Integrity Engineer/Project Manager Brian

he said. “Interns and co-ops make Shaw a

Lunsford ’09, who is also an alumnus.

hire engineering graduates with the exact type of experience we’re looking for.”

co-ops per semester to give students

Christi Pichon, SPSU’s employer and career relations coordinator, at 678-915-7391 or

Recreated PMS

experience in mechanical integrity and

students who communicate well and are

cathodic protection, which are two

willing to learn and “take chances on

specialties that don’t have an abundance of

making mistakes.”

qualified engineers, Lunsford said.

Senior Brandon Hines, an industrial

“As a previous co-op myself, I realize

engineering technology major, became a

the value in hiring co-ops and developing

Shaw co-op last spring, but he also interns

the experience and qualities it takes to be

there between co-op semesters.

successful,” the SPSU graduate said. “The

“I wanted to do the co-op program to

Employers interested in recruiting co-op or intern candidates should contact

Pond’s Integrity and Compliance Management group employs one or two

Allen added that he looks for outgoing

engineering reports.

Pond and Co. is another firm that’s had “great success” with SPSU co-ops, said

successful company because we are able to

skills, and are proficient in creating technical

relationship gives the co-op ‘real-world’

gain some real experience in my field of

experience, while providing Pond with

study to put on my resume as well as begin

additional resources for projects.”

building networks,” the Kennesaw resident

Lunsford said he hires students

said. “I chose Shaw because I knew of the

who work productively without constant

Southern Polytechnic State University


Residential boom at Southern Polytechnic State University

At Home On Campus:


he signs that Southern Polytechnic State University is now a 24/7 campus are everywhere.

These days, when darkness has fallen

style community University Commons,

and the faculty/staff parking lots have

offering private bedrooms and, in some

emptied out, laughter and chatter echo

cases, private bathrooms in fully furnished

along campus walkways as residential

apartments. A second apartment

students make their way to the dining

community called University Courtyard

hall, a movie in the Student Center, or a

opened in 2004.

game of dodgeball next to the Engineering Technology Center. They wait to board the Marietta

By 2008, student enrollment at SPSU had steadily increased in response to expanded programs, and projections

Trolley to shop or eat at local restaurants,

called for even greater growth over the

returning later with grocery bags and other

next few years. It was time not just to


expand student housing options, but also

SPSU Police patrol the campus constantly and have found their services needed at all hours. The university has a

to change directions in campus housing management. The result was the opening of two

full-time nurse on staff and a physician

new suite-style residence halls: a 600-

under contract. Throughout the campus,

bed complex known as Hornet Village, and

fliers advertise numerous after-hours

SPSU’s special interest housing, University

activities — from study groups and

Columns, which has ten 12-bed, Greek-style

concerts to competitions and giveaways.

houses occupied by fraternities, sororities,

Meanwhile, in University Columns, the

the university’s soccer team, and visiting

colors and insignia of various fraternities

professors. SPSU now has a total of 1,673

and sororities compete for attention.

beds to offer students.

It’s 2013, and SPSU has come of age.

“Up until five years ago, the operation

Many people perceive the university

of Norton and Howell halls was privatized

as strictly a commuter school until they

– they were managed by an outside firm,”

venture onto campus and are shocked

said Chris Bruno, SPSU’s director of Housing

to find many more buildings than they

and Residence Life. “The university’s

imagined, including special interest houses,

leadership decided to form its own housing

apartment complexes, and residence

staff, and the emphasis has since shifted

halls filled with suites. Last fall, SPSU had

from viewing students as simply a source

a record number of students living on

of rent revenue to individuals whose needs

campus – more than 1,500.

are important and whose opinions are

SPSU built its first dormitory in the early 1960s and a second later that decade. SPSU became a four-year college


prompted the opening of the apartment-

valued and respected. We are here for the students and to help them be successful.” The staff of Housing and Residence Life

in 1970, but it was not until 1998 that

has tripled since 2008. There are now 50

the demand for on-campus housing

student staff members — which translates

SPSU Magazine Summer 2013

student experience

“It’s a great opportunity to make friends, go to campus events, and use academic resources like the library and meeting with professors. It also helps you to be on time to class.” — Freshman Brittany Rosario

into one resident assistant (R.A.) for every 33

Brittany Rosario, 18, lives in Hornet

residential students — supervised by three

Village. “It’s a great opportunity to make

full-time staff members, all of whom have

friends, go to campus events, and use

master’s degrees related to their fields. In

academic resources like the library and

Bruno’s first 15 months at SPSU, the student

meeting with professors. It also helps you to

housing occupancy rate rocketed from 82

be on time to class,” she noted.

percent (1,250 students) to 94 percent (1,552

As a non-traditional-age student, Randy

students). The staff created a variety of

Brown, 26, has a different perspective on

educational and fun activities for residential

the value of student housing. The managing

students — enjoying pizza with the president,

editor of the SPSU student newspaper, The

etiquette dinners, video game competitions,

Sting, Brown has enjoyed the convenience

and sessions on study skills, laundry tips, and

of being able to work late hours in the

sex education.

paper’s office with only a short walk back to

“We’ve seen attendance at these events go through the roof,” Bruno said. Sorority member Ariyanna White, 20, who lives in the Alpha Xi Delta House and

his University Courtyard apartment, where he often cooks his own meals in his fully equipped kitchen. “The cost [of student housing] has gone

has lived on campus for three years, has

up in the two years I’ve been here, but it

definitely noticed the difference. “It used to

includes utilities,” he noted. “And for me,

be there were maybe one or two activities a

saving gas and travel time is well worth it.”

week. Now, there’s something to do pretty

With residential students enjoying a

much every night. The people who say this

significant uptick in amenities, services, and

campus is boring are the students who

activities over the last few years, campus life

commute home after classes and miss out

at SPSU is clearly flourishing. These students

on all these events.”

are “a lot more involved and engaged” in

The honor student added that, “the

events and activities – and in their education

students who live here are more active in

– Bruno said, noting that student success

student organizations and events. They

is central to the mission of Housing and

enjoy themselves more. You meet a lot of

Residence Life.

people hanging around here at night when fun things are going on.” Southern Polytechnic State University



Articulation Agreement with Georgia Military College to bring more students to SPSU, smooth the transition SPSU President Lisa A. Rossbacher and Major Gen. Peter Boylan, president of Georgia Military College (GMC) in Milledgeville, signed an articulation agreement in April at SPSU. It will allow GMC students to apply their associate degree credits toward SPSU baccalaureate degrees without losing credit hours in the transfer.

designed to improve the educational pipeline from high school through college graduation, particularly in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields that are our bread and butter,” Dr. Szafran noted. Jeremy Vogt, a student in SPSU’s undergraduate program in information technology, was one of four GMC graduates enrolled at SPSU this spring — prior to the articulation agreement signing.

“This articulation will provide academic access

“I heard about SPSU’s great hands-on learning style

for GMC students,” said SPSU’s vice president for

and was instantly attracted,” he said. “I also read in

Academic Affairs, Dr. Zvi Szafran. “Now GMC students

brochures about the small class sizes and liked that.”

will be able to, transfer to SPSU with relative ease.” “GMC is a liberal arts–based, two-year college.

Vogt said his experience in making the transition to SPSU wasn’t difficult. “I just had to make sure my

Many of our students go on to pursue baccalaureate

transcripts were sent over and my classes would

degrees at four-year colleges and universities, and

transfer. Most of mine did, but GMC requires a different

our cadet program is a feeder program to both West

programming language than SPSU, so the classes that

Point and the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. GMC has nine

had to do with that transferred in but are not needed

campuses throughout the state and close to 8,000

here. I’m sure the agreement would have helped me by

students,” Major Gen. Boylan noted. “SPSU offers

making sure all my classes transferred over.”

significant opportunities for our students to further their education.” As for how SPSU stands to benefit from the

Another GMC graduate, Steven Franzkowiak, “was attracted to SPSU’s Electrical Engineering Technology program and its hands-on approach to engineering”

agreement, “GMC is a different type of institution than

and found that the tuition and living in Marietta fit his

SPSU with a student body that is more than 50 percent


female and a mature online presence that will help to

The GMC partnership is one of the latest in a series

bring more students to SPSU from beyond Georgia,” said

of transfer articulation agreements formed with a

Dr. Sam Conn, vice president for Information Technology

variety of educational institutions and systems and

and chief information officer at SPSU and the former

is the wave of the future for SPSU as more and more

director of online learning at GMC.

students seek an affordable, hands-on education in

“This articulation is consistent with Gov. Nathan Deal’s Complete College Georgia initiative, which is

engineering, engineering technology, architecture and computer science.

SPSU President Lisa A. Rossbacher and GMC President Gen. Peter Boylan signed an agreement that allows GMC students to apply their associate degree credits toward SPSU baccalaureate degrees without losing credit hours in the transfer.


SPSU Magazine Summer 2013

Southern Polytechnic State University

00 25



f you dial my phone, and it seems I’m not home, I’ll be

in the state of euphoria!”

That was Dr. Joyce Mills’ sunny sign-off at her retirement

reception in December 2012 after 22 years of service as assistant director (1990-92), acting director (1992), and then director (1993-2012) of SPSU’s Lawrence V. Johnson Library.

She began her professional career as head of the High

School Division and library manager of the American School in London. Married to artist Lev Timothy Mills, she loves to travel and once helped build a library in Botswana, so it is hard to imagine Dr. Mills having been sequestered among the stacks for the past two decades.

Of course, she hasn’t been, but Dr. Mills focused much of

her energy on improving the library’s services and resources to better serve SPSU students, faculty, and staff.

SPSU Magazine sat down with her as she bid farewell

to the campus to talk about her career of 40-plus years and her dedicated service to the institution.

SPSU Magazine: Dr. Zvi Szafran, vice president for Academic Affairs, called you “one of the real pioneers in moving SPSU online.” What was he referring to?

Dr. Mills: The chief reason I was hired [as assistant director for public services] was to prepare the Johnson Library for automation and to oversee the installation of an integrated online circulation system. Basically, that means the computerization of the library, taking it from the old manualcheckout card-catalog system to an online catalog. 26

SPSU Magazine Summer 2013

SPSU Magazine: What are you most

I’m also very proud of the full

proud of having accomplished during

library staff. Yongli Ma has been

Joyce Mills?

your years at SPSU?

appointed interim library director, and

Dr. Mills: In 1991, I published a

Dr. Mills: Well, there have been a

she has been with me since 1994, a year

family genealogy, “Two Trees Standing,”

lot of milestones over the years, such

after I was named director. People work

and it is time to update it and perhaps

as bringing in PALS [library software],

very hard here. Customer service is No.

write my own autobiography. There

followed by GALILEO [GeorgiA LIbrary

1, and you have to know the databases

will also be more international travel

LEarning Online, an online library portal

inside and out. You can’t fake it. Many of

and museum hopping. Together with

initiative of the Board of Regents of

us have been here a long time. We’re

my hobbies [she’s a self-described

the University System of Georgia for

like a family. [In fact, six of the nine staff

book autograph hound and has a

access to authoritative, subscription-

members who reported to Dr. Mills

collection of dolls], I’ll have plenty to

only information unavailable through

worked with her for more than 10 years,

do in retirement. I’ve enjoyed my time

free search engines or Web directories].

a testament to her gentle-yet-firm

at Southern Poly, but I’m also looking

We also implemented e-Reserves [a

leadership.] I’m also pleased about

forward to this phase­— I feel like my

collection of electronic documents such

having recently added a catalog/archives/

life has been blessed!

as journal articles, sample tests, and

interlibrary loan librarian [Erin Grant]

syllabi that instructors make available

to the staff.

SPSU Magazine: So what’s next for

to students] and expanded the library computer lab from 10 workstations to

SPSU Magazine: I see you’ve taught

more than 60. I want to give credit

college courses as well as managed

to Li Chen, our talented systems

public and college libraries.

librarian since 2000, for doing the

Dr. Mills: Yes, after I left the

research needed to bring about these

American School in London, I taught

changes. In 2010, she added a live,

school librarianship at Atlanta

online chat feature, Ask A Librarian

University [1973-86]. Then I was given


an opportunity to manage the West

that is very popular.

Hunter Branch of the Atlanta-Fulton

Public Library, where I also served as

I’m very proud that we rolled out The

Hive Search in 2012. It’s a Google-like

the weekend librarian in the archives and

search engine on the library’s homepage

special collections at the main branch. And

[] that

automation was upon us — I spearheaded

searches books, journals, magazines,

the barcoding and automation of the

and images. Later, our reference

collection there at West Hunter

librarian, Amy Coughenour, customized


The Hive for the Johnson Library, and the Reference department teaches

SPSU Magazine: You also have three

classes that inform students and

advanced degrees.

faculty of the nuances of the hundreds

Dr. Mills: I received a Master’s in

of databases with free access. They

Library Science in 1969 from the School

answer students’ questions and have

of Library Science at the University

found patrons to be very appreciative of

of Wisconsin [Madison], a specialist

this service.

degree, the Diploma in Advanced

Studies in Librarianship [DASL,1981],

Art professors and students now

have online access to our Bentley Art

from Emory University, and a Ph.D.

Collection with full descriptions and

[1987] from the School of Library and

images. The response has been just

Information Studies at Florida State


University (Tallahassee). Southern Polytechnic State University


35 28 28

SPSU Magazine Summer 2013



who helped shape the city of Athens


hree Southern Polytechnic State University alumni are among those responsible for making the city of Athens, Ga., what it is today.

Collectively, Paul T. Martin ‘53, Gerald Driver ‘65, and Bobby Snipes ‘73 have helped create jobs, spark economic development, combat droughts, and serve countless citizens through their professional and volunteer roles in the community.

SPSU alumni Bobby Snipes, Paul Martin, and Gerald Driver. Southern Polytechnic State University


PAUL T. Martin

Today, name a service organization in Athens, and

there’s a good chance Martin has been a part of the leadership or donated to the cause.

First, he joined the Athens Jaycees, and his participation

Paul Martin, who grew up in Atlanta, graduated from

in that organization later served as a springboard for his

what was then Southern Technical Institute in 1953.

future efforts in making Athens a better place to live.

He arrived on a basketball scholarship, undecided on

his course of study. However, he became interested in

Army – an organization he felt greatly shaped him as a

heating and cooling when he learned in class that “the

young boy. He has been a board member for over 53 years

future was limitless with air-conditioning ­— the new ‘have-

and has served as chairman for eight years.

to-have’ product in business and homes.” Just five years

after graduating from Southern Tech, Martin purchased

involvement with The Classic Center, a 55,000-square-foot

an interest in a heating and air-conditioning company that

convention center in Athens. Twenty years ago, leaders of

later became Martin Mechanical Contractors, a commercial

the community made a commitment to build the center, and

mechanical, electric, and plumbing company. He owned

Martin was one of those leaders. His main goal for getting

and operated the company for 40 years along with two

involved was to make sure The Classic Center could support

residential heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning

itself and would help create prosperity for the community.

companies, Bulldog Heating and Air in Athens and

Macy’s Air in Atlanta.

for eight years and continued to volunteer his expertise on

He joined the volunteer advisory board of The Salvation

Perhaps his most visible contribution was his

Martin served on The Classic Center Authority Board

the Construction Committee. The leadership Martin showed in business continued in his

foundation to ensure the longevity of the center. He led the

volunteerism. When he came to Athens in 1957, he became

formation and served as president of the foundation for the

involved in the Athens community to network for business

first 10 years and has continued to serve on the board.

and to meet people in the community.

“ 30

In 2000, it was Martin’s vision to create a cultural art

SPSU Magazine Summer 2013

It always feels good to be on the winning side of anything.


alumni profile

I wouldn’t have been able to do anything I’m doing today without my education.


Martin’s seemingly endless resume of community service


has also included volunteer roles at Beech Haven Baptist Church, where he is a charter member, and membership on the Southern Polytechnic State University Foundation Board, Air Conditioner Contractors of America Board of Directors, and

It was almost by chance that Gerald Driver ended up at SPSU —

Athens Business Council. He also served on the Clarke County

then known as Southern Technical Institute — in the 1960s.

Board of Education and was a member of the Clarke County

He originally had his sights set on a bigger Georgia college, but

Chamber of Commerce.

when his high school grades fell short, educators encouraged

The awards he has received include: University of Georgia Arch

Driver to take his first college classes elsewhere and transfer

Award; The Athens Athletic Hall of Fame; Golden Nail Award;

later to the four-year institution. Driver followed only the first

American Legion Coach and Little League Baseball Coach of

part of that advice. “I went to Southern Tech, and I said, ‘What

the Year, Jaycee Young Man of the Year and most recently, The

the heck­— I love it here,’” he said.

Salvation Army’s highest award, William Booth Award.

He also served in the Georgia Air National Guard.

At 80, Martin has remained humble about his years

After graduating in 1965, he moved to Athens for his first job

of community service. “I was a small cog in the wheel of

as a construction contractor. In 1973, he established his own

progress,” he insisted. “It always feels good to be on the

company and has remained at the helm of Driver Construction

winning side of anything.”

Co. since then.

So what has kept Martin going?

“I still feel like I’m able to do some good for people,”

ways in which Driver influenced the city. His company

Take a look around Athens, and you’ll see some of the

stated Martin. “If your work is satisfying and you enjoy it, it’s

constructed a range of the buildings that make up Athens’

not hard at all to keep at it.”

landscape, including the University of Georgia’s Sanford Hall, a

four-story medical building for the Athens Regent Medical Center,

His favorite motto: “The harder you work, the luckier you get!”

and the chapel in the University of Georgia’s botanical gardens.

Southern Polytechnic State University


alumni profile

Among his biggest sources of pride is the

but I learned real quick that I knew more than some of my

50,000-square-foot addition his company built at First

cohorts did.”

United Methodist Church, of which he is an active member.

his college years.

For more than 30 years, Driver has served the

Associated General Contractors of Georgia through various

That’s why he carries with him a constant reminder of

“I still wear the class ring,” he said. “I love it.”

roles, including as a member of the board of directors, as Georgia Branch AGC president (1998–99), and, since 1991, as a member of the AGC’s workers compensation program.

BOBBY Snipes

In 2012, Driver was honored as the recipient of the

highest honor bestowed by AGC, the annual Skill, Integrity, and Responsibility (SIR) Award. It is presented to someone who demonstrates those attributes.

Bobby Snipes enrolled in Southern Technical Institute as

a co-op student, dividing his time between classes and

“That was a high point for me. You really can get

humbled when your peers recognize you.”

his job with the Georgia Department of Transportation.

Driver said he wasn’t looking for recognition for

The university grew from a two-year institution to a four-

those qualities. “I’ve tried to live a correct life and run my

year school while Snipes was a student. He continued his

business in a correct fashion.”

education, graduating with a degree in civil engineering

technology in 1973, and became a registered professional

Driver, who has a private pilot’s license, is a longtime

member of the Ben Epps Airport Authority and has served

engineer in Florida and Georgia.

on the advisory board for The Salvation Army. Previously, he served in the Georgia Army National Guard, was on Georgia’s Department of Community Affairs State Codes

Snipes accepted his first position with the Clarke County

Advisory Committee, and was a member of the Athens

government as the county’s first traffic engineer during his

Rotary Club.

last academic quarter at Southern Tech. He subsequently

served the Athens community as the city engineer/director

Through his volunteer work, “I feel like I am repaying

our community somewhat for what we have been blessed

of public works and finally as the deputy manager for the

with here.”

Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County.

Driver said his professional skills have been an asset

to his volunteer work. He has offered his construction

reminded his staff of the importance of their work.

expertise to The Salvation Army and — as a member of the

airport’s building committee — worked on such projects as

‘How do we leave this community better than we found it?’”

the general aviation terminal and a new airport fire station.

he explained.

His accomplishments are many, and he credited his

“We would continually ask our department heads,

When hiring employees, he said, “I always looked for

alma mater for much of his success.

an embedded desire to make a difference. Education and

technical abilities are certainly required in one’s profession;

“I wouldn’t have been able to do anything I’m doing

today without my education,” Driver said. “I’m extremely

however, I have always believed that such a desire to

proud of my Southern Tech education and the information

achieve is also very important.”

I received there. When I came out, I didn’t feel that secure,


In this role, Snipes often used a single question that

SPSU Magazine Summer 2013

It’s been a rewarding career for me, in large part due to Southern Poly.


That desire was what drove Snipes, who played

droughts of 1986 and 1988, Snipes recalled. But when rain

instrumental roles in establishing a stronger government

failed to fall in 2007, “The reservoir helped carry us through

and addressing infrastructure needs within the Athens

that drought, which was a rather significant event.”

community as well as water concerns in the region.

Snipes hasn’t left service with Athens-Clarke completely. He

“Our job is frequently to provide the things that the

Though he’s stepped down from his full-time position,

public often takes for granted,” he said of basic services

continues to work for the government one day each week.

like roadways and water.

too. In 2009, Athens-Clarke’s new water testing and

In fact, Snipes said, he’s long observed that unlike

His name will long be remembered in the county,

various community groups that advocate for many

management facility was named the Bobby M. Snipes

important community needs such as libraries, “I have never

Water Resources Center.

encountered a ‘Friends of Infrastructure’ organization.”

Snipes said he was caught off guard by the honor.

“It’s not necessarily important that people remember

But infrastructure has at least one friend in Snipes, who

served the Athens-Clarke County community during a 39-

my name. It’s important for me to know what’s been done,”

year career from 1973 until his retirement in the fall of 2012.

he said.

Among his most significant accomplishments was his

Snipes credited much of his professional success to

role in the creation of the Bear Creek Water Reservoir, an

his college education.

$80 million joint effort among Athens-Clarke, Jackson,

Barrow, and Oconee counties and the associated managing

learned at Southern Poly, has served me well in all areas of

authority. Completed in 2001, the Bear Creek Reservoir

my work,” he said. “It gave me the self-confidence to trust

mitigates the effects of droughts by supplying water when

my own judgment.”

river levels become too low to support community need.

to Southern Poly.”

Water use was restricted in his county during the

“The ability to think critically and objectively, which I

“It’s been a rewarding career for me, in large part due

Southern Polytechnic State University


After going 6-24 last year, the Southern Polytechnic State University women’s basketball team truly made a 180. SPSU ended the 2012–13 season with a 25–6 overall record, but it was no cakewalk getting there.

Lady Hornets rebound and defy the odds



he Hornets finished the season

After making the necessary

as the Southern States Athletic

adjustments, SPSU regained its

it came time for the SSAC Tournament

Conference (SSAC) Tournament

momentum and powered through a

championship game, the Hornets fell

runners-up and advanced to the

College of Franklin Springs, Ga. When

nine-game winning streak that included

short to the No. 1 Eastern seed, No. 7

first round of the National Association of

a home victory over then-No. 6 ranked

nationally ranked Lee.

Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) National

Lee University of Cleveland, Tenn. The

The Hornets’ season was not over

Tournament. This marked the third

Hornets rose as high as No. 24 in the

though. Before they knew it, the women

time in four years that the team has

NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball

were on the road again making their

competed in the national tournament

Coaches’ Top 25 Poll, and eight of the

third trip to the NAIA Division I Women’s

and the second under third-year Head

games were victories of 20 or more

Basketball National Championship in

Coach Laquanda Dawkins.


Frankfort Ky., March 13-19. SPSU received

The women started off the season

SPSU began its postseason at

strong with an 11-0 record — the second

the 2013 SSAC Tournament held in

tournament after finishing as the SSAC

best start in SPSU women’s basketball

Montgomery, Ala., Feb. 27-March 2.

Tournament runner-up. During the first

history. Then the Hornets hit a bit of a

The Hornets were the No. 2 seed in

round, No. 7 seed SPSU was matched up

rough patch.

an automatic bid to the 32-team

the Eastern Division and played the

against the No. 8 nationally ranked and

“We took a couple of losses, and it

No. 3 seed out of the Western Division,

No. 2 seed Vanguard University of Costa

showed that we weren’t unstoppable,”

Belhaven University of Jackson, Miss., in

Mesa, Calif. The Hornets’ season ended

Coach Dawkins said. “We had to refocus

the quarterfinals. SPSU advanced to the

with a first-round loss to the Lions.

and rely on our defense and each other.

semifinals, where the women defeated

We stayed together through adversity.”

by 69-49 the No. 4 West seed Emmanuel

SPSU Magazine Summer 2013

This season, the Hornets had some notable rankings within Division I of the


Hornets: Division I NAIA Rankings


three-point field goal percentage (.361)

9 No. 10

turnover margin (5.0)



free throw percentage (.722)

Ashlie Billingslea: Division I NAIA Individual Rankings

4 No. 6 No. 8 No.

steals per game (3.45) total steals (107) total scoring (570 points)

Sarah Ogoke: Division I NAIA Individual Rankings No.


6 9

Team for the second consecutive year. “Ashlie has been our leader on and off the court this year,” said Coach Dawkins. “She will be hard to replace.” Another member of the All-SSAC Team was junior Ogoke. She was named the SSAC Newcomer of the Year and Defensive

defensive rebounds per game (7.55) points per game (18.38)

Player of the Year. When it came to the national rankings, she was No. 6 in Division I of the NAIA in defensive rebounds per game (7.55) and No. 9 in points per game (18.38). Coach Dawkins’ coaching philosophy was picked up very quickly by the team. Her system allowed for each player to be placed in the most successful situation and to use her skills to their utmost potential.

NAIA. SPSU ranked No. 6 in three-point field goal percentage

“Our team is fundamentally sound and very aggressive on

(0.361), No. 9 in turnover margin (5.0), and No. 10 in free throw

offense. We look to attack our opponent on every possession,”

percentage (0.722).

explained Coach Dawkins. “Our goal is to push the ball up the

Coach Dawkins took an almost entirely new team and transformed it into an SSAC powerhouse. “We made changes in our roster that included the addition of NCAA transfer Sarah Ogoke, from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi,” explained Coach

floor at every opportunity while maintaining a disciplined halfcourt offense.” Coach Dawkins’ defense has been known for creating more scoring opportunities in transition.

Dawkins. “Behind senior point guard Ashlie Billingslea — the only

“We emphasize good man-to-man defense — particularly

returning player from last year’s team — we went back to our old

the half-court trap and defending in transition — and use it to

winning ways.”

apply ball pressure, to force turnovers, and to score transition

Billingslea, SPSU’s lone senior, had numerous NAIA Division I individual rankings including No. 4 in steals per game (3.45), No.

baskets,” she said. Coach Dawkins was joined on the coaching staff by

6 in total steals (107), and No. 8 in total scoring (570 points). She

assistant coaches Stephon Seraile and Theo Wilmon, both

was SPSU’s representative on the SSAC Musco Lighting Champions

in their second seasons with the Hornets. Josh Martin is the

of Character Team and was chosen for the 15-person All-SSAC

SPSU head athletic trainer.

Southern Polytechnic State University


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Save These Dates August 3, 2013 Summer Graduation 10 a.m. in the SPSU Gymnasium August 14, 2013 First Day of Fall Classes October 9, 2013 Fall Career Expo 12-3 p.m. in the Recreation and Wellness Center October 14, 2013 PolyDay The culmination of a month-long fundraising effort by the SPSU Foundation to raise awareness and support from the university’s community partners. December 14, 2013 Fall Graduation 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. in the SPSU Gymnasium

For more information about these events and dates, please contact the Advancement Office at 678-915-7351.

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SPSU Magazine Summer 2013  
SPSU Magazine Summer 2013