April 29, 2013


Volume 7, Issue 30 – April 29, 2013



I can’t believe that the term is almost over.  Monday is the last day of classes and then we’re into finals.  Graduation is almost here too, though that kinda goes along with the end of finals.  After graduation?  A trip to link up with polytechnics in New Zealand and then off to some conferences.

Earth Day

On Monday, April 22, SPSU began its Earth Day celebration with an Earth Colloquium.  Speakers included President Rossbacher giving the welcome, me speaking on “Sustainability in Chemistry”, and after waking up the audience, talks by Jim Cooper, Julie Newell, Tom Nelson, Han Reichgelt, Scott Tippens, Julia Forbes (High Museum), and Pegah Zamani, who had organized the event.  This was followed by a group discussion on sustainability at SPSU, and what we might do to bring the subject more into the curriculum.  After, we walked down to the Architecture Gallery for a reception and an exhibit on some sustainability projects on campus.  Though the turnout was a little on the light side (about 30), the overall program was a fine first effort of what will be an annual colloquium on sustainability at SPSU.  Big thanks to Pegah Zamani (Architecture) for her fine work in pulling this together.

Awards Ceremony

Wednesday, April 24 marked SPSU’s annual Faculty and Staff Awards Ceremony.  The event was great and quite packed, not least of which was because we had a lot of folks receiving awards!   First came the service awards and there were lots of faculty and staff getting 5-, 10-, 15-, 20-, 25-, and even 30-year awards.  One highlight was that President Rossbacher was surprised when the Chancellor surprised her by personally handing her a 15-year award for her service.  The HR staff managed to keep his invitation to the ceremony a secret.

The Outstanding Staff Member awards went to Sharon Hodges (ACM), Theresa Street, and much to her surprise, Quint Hill (HR).  Then it was time for me to name the four winners of the Outstanding Faculty Awards, which went to Don Ariail (Accounting), Wasim Barham (Civil Engineering), Charles Duvall (ECET), and Wei Zhou (Chemistry).  This was followed by the announcement of SPSU’s three new Emeritus Professors, Carol Barnum (ETCMA), Barbara Bernal (CSSWE), and Betty Oliver (ETCMA).

Congratulations to all our award winners!

Installation and Dahlonega Road Trip

Last Friday, Jill, Mark, and I took a little road trip up to Dahlonega for the installation of the University of North Georgia’s new president, Bonita Jacobs.  Actually, president Jacobs isn’t new—she became president of North Georgia College and State University in 2011, but her “welcoming gift” was that NGCSU was merged with Gainesville State College to form the University of North Georgia.  The installation was thus delayed for a year and Dr. Jacobs became NGCSU’s 17th and last president and UNG’s first.

I’d never been to Dahlonega before, despite living in Georgia since 2005.  For some reason, I had it in my head that it was much farther from Marietta than it is—it turns out that it’s only a little more than an hour from my house if I hit the lights right and don’t run into much traffic on Roswell Road.  It was a beautiful day and we got to Dahlonega at about 10:30 AM.  It’s a lovely little town, with a lot of cool local shops in a downtown “square” (which is more like a circle), along with the former court house which is now a Gold Museum.  For those who don’t know, gold used to be mined in Dahlonega and for a short period, there was even a U.S. mint there.  Coins from the Dahlonega mint are exceedingly rare.

I dropped Jill and Mark off to explore the downtown area and off I went to the presidential brunch, where I ran into a bunch of friends from around the USG, including Margaret Venable, Linda Noble, Al Panu, and several others less known to folks on our campus.  At the brunch, Dr. Jacobs introduced her family and talked about how UNG would be moving forward in the future as an union of four campuses (Dahlonega, Gainesville, Oconee, and Cumming), each with their own cultures and identities, but having a single mission.

We wandered off to find the building in which we were supposed to robe up.  At first, there were only a few people there, but as 11:45 drew nearer, the place filled (and heated) up—it was UNG faculty to the left, arranged by rank and longevity, and visiting delegates (that’s me!) to the right, arranged by their university’s year of founding.  SPSU’s 1948 date put me at #25 in line.  After a few sweaty minutes, we all marched onto the parade field (UNG has a military mission, after all) to our seats, which were unfortunately of the hard metal variety with no padding.

The weather was sunny and breezy, with the latter overcoming some of the effects of the former.  I did touch my SPSU medallion at one point—a mistake, since bronze has a good heat capacity and the medallion was as hot as you know what.   Speakers included Dr. Jacobs’ sister, who told a funny story about how Benita was always the perfect student, which ticked her off no end—so she dedicated here young life to torturing Benita.  This torture, she declared, made Benita the woman that she is, so she ended by saying “you’re welcome”.  Other speakers included Governor Nathan Deal (who had to leave shortly thereafter), Chancellor Huckaby, representatives from the faculty, alumni, and students on the four campuses, and of course Dr. Jacobs herself, on the theme of “Building on a Tradition of Excellence: Scholarship, Leadership, Service”.

The ceremony was over at about 2:30, and when I got back to the car to meet Jill and Mark, the first thing they said was “Wow—you must have been out in the sun!” because I had a really nice sunburn on my face and forehead.  We took a drive north of the town for a few hours, stopping at the lovely Wolf Mountain Winery.  Jill made me promise to bring her back there in the future.  After a little antiquing in town, we met Tom Nelson and his lovely wife Dianne, who is UNG’s interim department head of Nursing for dinner.  When Mark discovered that they own three dogs, he insisted we go to their house afterwards so he could meet them.  He’s been talking about one of them, Lobo, ever since.  Then it was back to the Quality Inn for some sleep.

Saturday was a bit drizzly, so we left town about 11:00 AM and stopped at the North Georgia Outlet Stores for a while, and then down to Roswell for our usual stop at CD Warehouse.




For those who don’t know, THE WEEKLY BLAB is a more-or-less weekly blog intended to give me a way to communicate in a casual way with the faculty and staff at SPSU and interested folks beyond.  Subject matter can be anything—news at SPSU, issues in higher education, all kinds of music, something in the national news, or whatever strikes me as interesting at the time.

Now in its seventh year, the BLAB started as an email newsletter and more recently became a blog.  No, it’s not written on “company time”—I write it at home, most often on Sunday night.  Since January, it has attracted (if that’s the right word) readers in 25 different countries, including the Russian Federation, Yemen, and Indonesia.  After the U.S., the most readers have come from Colombia, Venezuela, Israel, and Canada.

I hope you enjoy reading it and I appreciate the many nice comments I’ve gotten.  If you don’t like it, well—that’s what the delete key is for.


Last Time’s Trivia Contest

Questions last time focused on Boston.  This one didn’t draw too many entries.  The on-campus winner was Richard Ruhala (Systems and Mechanical Engineering), though he was beaten by my old friend, Paul Howley, who had the advantage of living near Boston for many years. Here are the answers:

  1. The oldest major league baseball park still in use.  Fenway Park in Boston.
  2. The oldest fully-commissioned ship in the Navy, located in Charlestown Navy Yard, Boston.   Old Ironsides (officially, the U.S.S. Constitution).
  3. The official dessert of Massachusetts.  Boston Cream Pie, of course.
  4. Deepest tunnel in North America, named after “the Splendid Splinter”.  The Ted Williams Tunnel.
  5. The first to have this happen was the book “The Meritous Price of Our Redemption”, by William Pynchon, in 1652.  First work to have been ‘banned in Boston’.

This Week’s Trivia Challenge

Today’s trivia challenge focuses on words related to “April”. No looking up the answers now!  SEND ALL ENTRIES BY EMAIL TO zszafran@spsu.edu, since if you put them as a response on the BLOG, everyone will be able to see them!

  1. A good day for playing practical jokes.
  2. Answer to the old children’s joke, “If April showers bring may flowers, what do may flowers bring?”
  3. Canadian singer whose #1 albums include “Let Go” and “Under My Skin”.
  4. Doris Day movie from 1952—she plays a chorus girl named Ethel ‘Dynamite’ Jackson.  There’s also a popular song by that name, recorded by Count Basie among many others.
  5. Female friend to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, she has been played by Renae Jacobs and Megan Fox.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.