March 3, 2014


Volume 8, Issue 25 – March 3, 2014

Everything is Piling Up…

Between the snow days, catching up with my Inorganic class, giving and grading an exam, and endless OWG meetings, something had to give—last week’s BLAB!    I didn’t catch up until today, so this week’s BLAB will be a little late going out too.


Good News?  We Got It!

It’s spring, and that means it’s time for the annual update on how SPSU’s Speech Team did.  This year, the 20th Georgia Intercollegiate Forensic Association State Championship tournament was hosted at SPSU on the 22nd.  Our SPSU team did themselves proud, coming in second place overall.  Sophomore Physics major Logan Britt placed in the top three in three events: Editorial Impromptu Speaking (2nd), Extemporaneous Speaking (3rd), and Impromptu Speaking (3rd).  Logan was also elected to serve as GIFA Student President for 2014-2015, the third year that an SPSU student has served in that position.  Others winning awards included Peter Desio (Mechatronics), Ayana Reyes-Howell (Architecture), Nathan Highsmith (Mechanical Engineering), Trevor Polston (Civil Engineering), Chris Gilbert (Systems Engineering), Josh Van Meter (Computer Game Design), and Tajruba Khan (Business Administration).


GIFA also honored Mark Stevens with a Distinguished Service Award, for his 10+ years of dedication to competitive speech in Georgia.  Congratulations to the entire team and to Mark, and also to Misty York, the team’s faculty advisor.

 Congratulations also to Iraj Omidvar (ETCMA, and Director of the Honors Program) on the publication of his 2-volume magnum opus “Muslims and American Popular Culture”, published by Praeger.  The book is about mass media representations of Muslims, which are often negative and one-dimensional.  Its 40 chapters look at a broad range of topics in popular culture, including jihad; the hejab, veil, and burka; Islamophobia; Muslims in the media; and mosque burnings.  Iraj was kind enough to give me a copy, and I’m looking forward to reading it.

Congratulations as well to Al Churella (SIS), on being interviewed on the PBS program “American Experience” on February 18.  The program was about one of the “greatest architectural achievements of its time”, the construction of Pennsylvania Station, torn down after just 53 years.  You can see the program by clicking here.


OWG Updates

IN OWG 18 (Retention, Progression, and Graduation), the majority of the discussion was devoted to comparing KSU and SPSU’s Complete College Georgia submissions and updates.  There were many similarities, and we will be working to grid the two plans side by side, and indicate for each item whether they should simply be consolidated (if both of us had a version), continued (if only one of us had this item) or eliminated.  We also began a brief discussion of textbook policies and how we might try to lower the overall cost of textbooks for students.

I wasn’t able to attend OWG 20A (Faculty Credentials and Rosters) because I was at RACAA (see next week’s BLAB for details), so I’m taking this update from the notes.  A discussion was held on who maintains faculty data (tenure dates, contracts, offer letters), and on both campus it is handled in Academic Affairs, with benefits handled by HR.  The group will recommend that this separation of duties should continue.  KSU uses a Faculty Information System, which the committee will look at, as well as how transcripts are held and how often cv’s should be updated.  Hiring at KSU is done entirely electronically (no paper!)  and we will recommend that be the process for both universities.  Another OWG is recommending using HireTouch for staff hiring, so a decision between that and PeopleAdmin will need to be made.  We will be working together to generate a consolidated faculty roster for SACS purposes, as well as to compare the kind of contracts both institutions use.

In OWG 20B (Salary and Workload Equity), the meeting was at KSU (on a Friday afternoon!).  The main topic was trying to define how load is determined on both campuses, and if a common basis for comparison could be identified, and thereby changes from it costed out.  We decided that there would be a single workload model for all faculty at the consolidated university—there would not be one on one campus and another on the other campus.  We talked about a goal of the new university becoming a DRU (Doctoral/Research University).  For the next meeting, we will be looking at the current distribution of faculty workloads on both campuses.

In OWG 21 (Faculty Honors and Awards), the meeting was at SPSU.  We discussed the progress KSU’s Proposed Faculty Awards proposal was making on their campus.  A few of the awards had their amounts reduced a bit, and the proposal will be heading to their foundation for review next.  We received a summary describing the forms of faculty leave on both campuses, and concluded that more funding needed to be made available in this area, to allow for more faculty to be able to participate.  We also received a spreadsheet of the various faculty professional development awards on both campuses and reviewed them.  We talked about the role played in faculty development by CTE (called CETL at KSU) and will share materials related to how they operate on both campuses.  For the future, we’ll also be looking at outside awards for which we may want to come up with consolidated procedures for nominating faculty.

In OWG 22 (Evaluation, Promotion, Rank, and Tenure), we met up at Kennesaw. KSU recently had a taskforce looking at whether requiring external letters in promotion and tenure cases was a good idea (we already require it at SPSU), so we’re going to look at the data they gathered.  We discussed the general areas of the promotion and tenure process, and decided to recommend that the consolidated university have three categories for faculty performance:  (1) Teaching (similar to now), (2) Scholarship and Creative Activity (with the view that the scholarship/activity must be out there for peer review), and (3) Service.  SPSU’s fourth area, Professional Growth and Development, would become part of the other three categories, depending on what the activity was.  For example, the various CTE workshops and activities related to improving teaching and advising would go into the Teaching category, while presentations of papers at conferences and the like would go into Scholarship and Creative Activity.  KSU’s fourth area, Administration and Leadership, would go into service.  We also looked at using rubrics to help faculty understand how the areas would be evaluated, and will look at SPSU’s engineering rubric as an example of what each college might be expected to produce.  We’ll be looking at similar rubrics from other schools/colleges.  Future conversations will look at how to define and measure quality and significance of performance.


Upcoming Cross-Cultural Events

On Monday, March 10 at 6:00 PM in the Student Auditorium, the International Film Series is sponsoring the film “Ghost in the Shell”, a very cool piece of Japanese anime.

Then at 12 Noon on Tuesday, March 18 in the Design II Auditorium, the SIS International Forum series is hosting “Crisis I—Venezuela”, with a talk given by former SPSU faculty member Dr. Juan Carlos Guzman.

The big event for March comes on Thursday, March 20, at 6:00 PM in the Student Theatre.  Cynthia Cooper, the accountant who was VP of Internal Audit at WorldCom and discovered a $3.8 billion fraud there in 2002, will be speaking and here for a booksigning.

More events are scheduled for April and beyond.  A full list can be found at the Cross Cultural Conversations BLOG, here.  Please encourage your students to attend these events, and come by yourself.


Last Week’s Trivia Contest

Last week’s contest had questions all had to do with the presidents.  Our Winner was Tom Rotnem (SIS).  Here are the correct answers:

  1. Alleged to have chopped down a cherry tree.  George Washington
  2. Tallest president, also the first with a beard.  Abraham Lincoln
  3. Only president elected twice, but not in consecutive terms.  He was also the last president to never have attended college.  Grover Cleveland
  4. Youngest man to become president, although he wasn’t the youngest man to run for president and win.  Teddy Roosevelt
  5. The only president to have the national debt completely paid off during his term.  Andrew Jackson


This Week’s Trivia Challenge

Today’s trivia challenge have to do with the word “East”.  All answers will have the word “east” in them, in one way or another.  As usual, the first with the most takes the prize.  No looking up the answers now!  SEND ALL ENTRIES BY EMAIL TO, since if you put them as a response on the BLOG, everyone will be able to see them!

  1. Christian holiday celebrating the resurrection.
  2. He starred in “The Rookie”, “Unforgiven”, “The Bridges of Madison County”, “True Crime” and Gran Torino, among many others.
  3. The Beach Boys say they’re “hip and I really dig those styles they wear”.
  4. Movie starring James Dean in 1955, based on a novel by John Steinbeck.
  5. National anthem of the People’s Republic of China.
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