February 3, 2014


Volume 8, Issue 22 – February 3, 2014



Needless to say, it was extremely strange to have snow in Atlanta and even stranger to see everything shut down.  Given Atlanta’s status as a major transportation hub, seeing the highways totally gridlocked and Hartsfield Jackson airport (and many others across the South) closed was quite remarkable and only proves how weak the infrastructure actually is.  Not surprisingly, everyone is now playing the blame game, alternately pointing the finger at Governor Nathan Deal or Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed.  Frankly, I think they’re both getting a bit of an unfair rap—the storm was supposed to go further south and be quite minor here.  By the time people realized it was going to be worse, it was too late.  Even though SPSU let out at noon, I’ve heard from lots of folks about having been caught in gridlocked traffic on the way home and even having to abandon their cars short of home.   I hope everyone was safe—even on Thursday, I saw tons of abandoned cars all over the place, especially on I-75.  They say that another storm is coming our way, but that it is likely to be all rain.  I’ll be taking that forecast with (so to speak) a grain of salt.


Come Together, Right Now…

Lots of time was spent on consolidation issues the week before the storm.  That Tuesday, all the co-chairs from both KSU and SPSU of the 81 operational working groups met in Q-202 to go over the basic “rules” of how the OWGs will operate.  As most of you know, I’m the co-chair on four committees:

#18: Retention, Progression, and Graduation (RPG)
#20: Faculty Credentials, Rosters, Workloads, Pay
#21: Faculty Honors and Awards
#22: Promotion, Tenure, and Faculty Development.

I spoke with my co-chairs on Thursday and Friday before the storm, and we planned initial meetings for three of these committees for this past Thursday.  Lots of the other committees were scheduled for Wednesday through Friday too.  All those meetings got cancelled, since both SPSU and KSU were closed down.  I do thank everyone who has volunteered to serve and we’re now going through the logistical nightmare of trying to schedule once again.  While I couldn’t pick everyone who volunteered (we’re trying to limit the committees to 8-10), I did try to select a representative group.  I assume there will be some general interest in what’s happening on these four committees, so as we move forward, I’ll report what’s going on in future BLABs.


Future Cities

On Saturday, January 25, SPSU once again hosted Future Cities, a competition where 6th-9th graders design a city of the future, using sound engineering and architectural principles.  It’s a huge endeavor involving hundreds of judges and other volunteers.  Tony Rizzuto (Chair of Architecture) has taken on the leadership role for Future Cities, taking the mantle from Dawn Ramsey last year (having shared it the year before).  Working with Tony were lots of other folks from Architecture and ACM, Engineering, ET, and many other departments across the University.

I had the pleasure of serving as Master of Ceremonies, so I got to sleep in on Saturday morning and then went to the Rec Center at about 1 PM.  Participants were in the process of coming over for the finalists’ presentations and to find out who won the various awards.  By 1:30, the program began.  As usual, the five finalists were all excellent with beautiful model cities and strong presentations.  The winners, Ark City from St. Jude the Apostle School and their teacher, Eleonora Straub were so excited—the school had competed for several years in the past, but had never won before.  If memory serves me correctly, they had come in second twice, so they were really up for the win this time.  They’re now off for Washington DC for the national finals, so please join me in wishing them good luck.

p10405381st place winners Ark City from St. Jude the Apostle School. Photo shamelessly stolen from Rich Cole’s BLOG.

The other four finalists and their teachers were:

2nd place: The Royals, East Cobb Middle School, Barbara Quarles (teacher)
3rd place:  Casablanca Mills Springs Academy, Martha Muir
4th place:  Hydrocity, Queen of Angels, Peggy DeGance and Sue Van Rooyan
5th place: Pontin, Richmond Hill Middle School, Ken Deal

I’d like to thank Tony, his colleagues, and all the volunteers for the fine job they did.  Now it’s time to start planning for next year!


Cross-Cultural Comings

This semester’s Cross-Cultural Conversations events began on Monday January 27, with our own Fulbright Visiting Professor Ana Terry speaking about “The Maori Culture of New Zealand”.  Unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend, but I hear that the talk was very well received.  The next two events, “Crisis I—Greece” (with Mr. Louis Arthur Ruprecht of the Greek consulate, January 28) and “Relations Between Germany, Georgia, and the United States” (with Consul-General Christoph Sander of the German consulate, January 30) got wiped out by the snowstorm and SPSU’s closure, and will be rescheduled if possible.

On Monday, February 3, the first movie of the International Film Series will be shown at 6:00PM in the Student Center Theatre.  The movie is “Les Untouchables”, a French film that was nominated for the 2013 Best Foreign Language Film in the Golden Globe Awards.

Thursday, February 6 at 7:30 PM in the Student Center Theatre, we’ll be hosting Step Afrika!, the first professional company in the world dedicated to the tradition of stepping.  Founded in December 1994, Step Afrika! promotes an appreciation for stepping and the dance tradition’s use as an educational tool.  They have performed on many stages around the world.

Friday, February 14 at 8:30 AM in the Ballroom, SPSU will be hosting a mini-conference on “Globalizing the Future: Infusing International Perspectives on Contemporary China Across the Curriculum” presented by the University of Pittsburgh Asian Studies Center.  There will be lots of interesting talks, including “China’s Governance Challenges”, “The River and the Air Runs Black” and “From Mao to Now”.  There are still a few seats left, so please contact Raj Sashti if you’re interested in attending.

There are several other events later this February and many more beyond.  A full list can be found at the Cross Cultural Conversations BLOG, here.  Please bookmark the site or follow it, strongly encourage your students to attend these events, and come by yourself?  You’ll be glad you did.


Last Week’s Trivia Contest

Last week’s contest had questions all had to do with the civil rights movement.   First to get all five right was Mark Stevens (ETCMA), obviously a man who knows his history.  Also getting all five right were Laura Beth Daws, Robin Daniel, Bill Bailey, LaToya Hawes, Mark Vickrey, Rich Halstead-Nussloch, Doug Morris, and Ann Parker.  Several others got four correct.  Here are the correct answers:

  1. Philosophy espoused by both Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi.  Non-violence.
  2. Colloquial name for the various segregation laws in the South.  Jim Crow Laws.
  3. Name of the speech delivered by Martin Luther King at the March on Washington in 1963.  I Have a Dream.
  4. Martin Luther King was the youngest ever winner of this prize, won in 1964.  Nobel Peace Prize.
  5. Name of the letter written by King at the request of the New York Times Magazine while he was incarcerated in April 1963.  Ironically, they didn’t publish it—excerpts appeared (without King’s permission) in the May 19, 1963 New York Post Sunday Magazine.  Letter From a Birmingham Jail.


This Week’s Trivia Challenge

For obvious reasons, all the questions or answers to today’s trivia challenge have to do with the word “snow”.  As usual, the first with the most takes the prize.  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 poisoned apple put her into suspended animation and a kiss woke her up.
  2. You make one of these when you lie down in the snow and slide your hands back and forth.
  3. People who spend the summer up north and the winter where it’s warm.
  4. A fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen, about the struggle between good and evil as experienced by children Kai and Gerda.
  5. Snoopy sits atop the most common version of this children’s toy, which can make cool treats in many flavors.
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One Response to February 3, 2014

  1. rcoleacm says:

    Good photo, BTW.

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