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
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
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
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
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
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
education can’t be
“The computers and other equipment funded by this gift are
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.
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist
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
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
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
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
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
“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 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, www.trover.com, 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
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
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
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
“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
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
eacher education programs are not hard to find â€” approximately 40 colleges and universities in Georgia offer a bachelorâ€™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
the PSC Board of Commissioners formally
Chattahoochee Technical College and
approved the granting of certification for
Georgia Highlands College to get student
teacher education at SPSU. “We are on track.
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
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
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
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
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
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 email@example.com.
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
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
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
“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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
 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
THREE SPSU ALUMS
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.
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.
PA U L T. M A R T I N
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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,”
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
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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Public Relations Department 1100 South Marietta Parkway Marietta, Georgia 30060-2896 www.spsu.edu
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 universityâ€™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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