September 2015 Issue

Posted On September 14, 2015
Categories Our Community

Our Community



Georgia State Named Fifth Leading
Innovative University in Nation

U.S. News and World Report magazine has recognized Georgia State University as one of the most innovative institutions in the nation and a national leader in its commitment to undergraduate teaching.

In its 2016 “America’s Best Colleges” edition, U.S. News ranked Georgia State 5th in the country among the top “most innovative” universities, a list of schools nominated by college and university leaders. The list includes institutions “that are making the most innovative improvements in terms of curriculum, faculty, students, campus life, technology or facilities,” according to the magazine. Georgia State ranked 6th place in a similar category in 2015.

Georgia State was also recognized for its strong commitment to undergraduate teaching, ranking 14th in the nation among institutions, including Yale, Stanford, Duke and the University of Michigan. The publication identified schools “where the faculty has an unusually strong commitment to undergraduate teaching.”

“These rankings reflect the work we have done in pursuing new models and new approaches in helping students earn their degrees,” said Mark P. Becker, president of Georgia State. “Our faculty and staff must be commended for their outstanding efforts in teaching, engaging and mentoring our students.”

Georgia State also ranks as one of the most diverse universities in the nation, ranking 14th among the country’s most diverse institutions, according to U.S. News. The university ranked 12th last year.

The university’s J. Mack Robinson College of Business ranked 50th in the magazine’s ranking of undergraduate business programs. It was 45th last year. It tied with 10 other institutions: Auburn University, Bentley University, Pepperdine University, University of California-San Diego, University of Connecticut, University of Massachusetts –Amherst, University of Missouri, University of Oregon, University of Tennessee and University of Utah.

The business school and program rankings are based on a survey of deans and senior faculty at institutions around the nation.


International Center Opens in Dahlberg Hall

More than 300 members of the university community and distinguished guests gathered for the opening ceremony of the International Center on the third floor of Dahlberg Hall on Sept. 2.

The center, formerly the home of the President’s office, now houses the Office of International Initiatives. It includes a community room, a study abroad library and two visual demonstration rooms.

“We are thrilled that the International Center will bring together the entire campus – faculty, staff, students and alumni – as we move forward to further our goal to reach distinction in globalizing Georgia State,” said Dr. Jun Liu, associate provost for international initiatives.

Since the university’s strategic plan was adopted in 2011, the number of international students studying at the university and the number of American students studying abroad has increased. About 1,900 international students are studying at Georgia State, up from 1,500 in 2011 and nearly 900 students are studying abroad, up from 635 in 2011.

The center promotes interaction with international students and scholars, brings greater coordination among university international offices and programs, and provides meeting rooms for cultural events and workspace to accommodate international visitors, dignitaries and scholars.

The center also provides a variety of services to assist faculty and staff and programs for international students, as well as Georgia State students seeking opportunities to study or work abroad.

President Mark Becker and Ambassador Hermano Telles Ribeiro, consul general of Brazil in Atlanta, also spoke at the ceremony and toured the center.

During a video played during the event Becker said, “It is my hope that faculty, staff and students would take advantage of this great step forward for the university, of having the International Center at the heart of campus.”


It’s On Us Campaign Spreads
Message About Sexual Assault

As the White House marks the one-year anniversary of the anti-sexual assault campaign “It’s On Us” on Sept. 19, Georgia State is ramping up efforts to help spread the message that everyone has a role in preventing sexual assaults.

“We want this to be a safe campus for everyone,” said Annette Butler, director of AA/EEO training and compliance in the Office of Opportunity Development. “There are federal and campus policies that are in place here to make sure this is a respectful and an inclusive environment.”

itsonusThe “It’s On Us” campaign encourages campus leaders to create ways to open the dialogue on sexual violence, which affects up to one in five women nationally during their college years. The campaign’s latest public service announcement, titled “The One Thing,” focuses on the importance of consent when engaging in sexual activity.

Georgia State students are learning more about sexual assault issues through presentations and online training this semester. Since 2013, more than 6,000 students have completed Haven, an online course offered to raise understanding on sexual assault.

“We are very proactive in educating and telling our kids not to put themselves in those situations,” said Kelcey Roegiers-Jensen, senior woman administrator in the Athletics Department and the Title IX gender equity liaison. “It’s very important, because one bad decision can ruin your life.”

Sexual assault training is required for students working in Housing and the Student Recreation Center, athletes and for students enrolled in GSU 1010, an orientation course for new students that provides essential information about academic demands of the university, rules, resources, and social and personal survival skills.

“We talk to them specifically about how to obtain (sexual) consent and what is not consent,” said Jaray Gillespie, assistant dean of students. “Every work environment is a little different and we want people to be able to identify behaviors that are unacceptable in our community.”

The university has increased the number of employees available to give presentations about sexual assault since the “It’s On Us” campaign started and a Haven course will soon be available for employees, Butler said.

“We want our employees to have the knowledge they need to act appropriately if someone does come to them to share information,” Butler said. “They need to know they are considered responsible employees. They have a duty to report sexual assaults and that they are not a confidential resource.”

Athletics started promoting the “It’s On Us” campaign at Georgia State during the spring semester when it created a video about how every individual can be involved in stopping sexual assault. More than 1,500 people have watched the video, which features student athletes, Greek organizations, the Student Government Association and the 1913 Society.

Basketball student-athletes wore “It’s on Us” t-shirts during warmups, as well as twice on the road as the Sun Belt Conference embraced the initiative across the league.

Joined by the Office of Student Health Promotion, student-athletes also asked students, faculty and staff to sign a personal commitment pledge to help keep women and men safe from sexual assault. More than 215,000 people have taken the It’s On Us pledge nationally.

Georgia State and its partners recently introduced a climate survey to aid colleges and universities across the country in stemming sexual assaults on their campuses.

The free survey was developed by the Administrator Researcher Campus Climate Collaborative (ARC3), a consortium of sexual assault researchers and student affairs professionals responding to calls by the Obama administration to strengthen efforts to prevent campus sexual assaults.

“As institutions move to be proactive in preventing sexual violence, it’s imperative that we go to the root of the problem: people who are engaging in violent, harassing behaviors and the norms that allow the behavior to continue,” said Kevin Swartout, assistant professor of psychology at Georgia State and a member of the consortium.

To take the “It’s On Us” pledge, visit
 Watch the Georgia State “It’s On Us” video here.

News Briefs

law building

University Officially Opens College of Law Building

The College of Law celebrated the completion of 85 Park Place with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Sept. 9 with state government and judicial leaders, alumni and friends. “Wow. Two years ago almost to the day, we broke ground and celebrated the potential of this building,” said Steven J. Kaminshine, dean and professor of law. “Today, we celebrate its completion and the opportunities that it presents. This building will help Georgia State Law lead the reforming of legal education and serve as a catalyst for change.” About 500 alumni, students, faculty, staff members and friends of the college celebrated the first building dedicated to legal education at Georgia State. Featured speakers were Gov. Nathan Deal, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, University System of Georgia Chancellor Hank M. Huckaby and Chief Justice Hugh P. Thompson of the Supreme Court of Georgia. President Mark Becker presided over the ceremony and ribbon-cutting.


Georgia State Celebrates Homecoming
Georgia State will celebrate Homecoming Sept. 28 through Oct. 3. The Georgia State football team will play the Homecoming game against Liberty on Oct. 3 at the Georgia Dome. For more information and for a schedule of events, visit



President Becker Gives Strategic Plan Update

President Mark Becker presented a review of the first five years of Georgia State’s strategic plan at a town hall meeting on Sept. 10. President Becker highlighted achievements in each of the plan’s five goals and areas that will require continued focus and work. He also announced members of a strategic planning update committee that will review the university’s progress to date and address the needs for advancing all five goals during the next five-year phase of the plan. Becker said the university has achieved a host of goals since the strategic plan was implemented in January 2011, including boosting graduations rates from 48 percent to 54 percent, being recognized as one of the top research universities in the country and establishing an International Center and a Council for the Progress of Cities. Becker said the university still has several “to dos,” including increasing space and core facilities for research, opening a financial counseling center and implementing a system of proactive alerts to identify students in financial crisis. And although the university has increased the number of students studying abroad from 635 to 900, Becker said Georgia State is short of meeting a target of doubling the size of student studying abroad to 1,270 students by next year. To hear Becker’s speech click here.


Dining Halls Earn 2-Star Green Certifcation

Piedmont North Dining Hall and Patton Dining Hall were recently certified as a 2 Star Certified Green Restaurant® by the Green Restaurant Association (GRA), a national nonprofit organization helping restaurants to become more environmentally sustainable. Receiving 159.84 GreenPoints™ on the GRA’s rigorous certification scale and having implemented 54 environmental steps, both dining halls at Georgia State have gone 59.84 percent beyond the minimum requirements necessary for certification.


Georgia State Partners with Junior Achievement Center in Gwinnett
More than 25,000 Gwinnett County middle school students will learn about Georgia State University this year while visiting storefronts at the new Junior Achievement Discovery Center at Gwinnett. The center, which opened on Aug. 27, is on the campus of Gwinnett County’s new Discovery High School in Lawrenceville. The facility’s Finance Park includes simulations that will allow students to experience making decisions about their financial futures and teach them about the value of education. In the Georgia State shop students will learn about the value of higher education and the distinctive qualities of Georgia State. They also can personalize a simulated dormitory room and take a photo of it.


Georgia State Names Dean of Libraries

Jeff Steely, associate dean and director of central libraries at Baylor University, has been appointed dean of libraries at Georgia State, effective Dec. 1. Steely will oversee library resources, which include more than 1.5 million volumes, more than seven million graphic materials, archival materials and the Collaborative University Research & Visualization Environment. Steely has been at Baylor since 1999, starting as outreach services librarian. He has been assistant director for client services, director of central libraries, assistant dean and associate dean. Prior to his career at Baylor, Steely was a serials librarian in the Library of the U.S. Courts in Chicago. He holds a Master of Library and Information Science degree from the University of Texas. Steely succeeds Nancy Seamans, who was dean of libraries from 2008 to 2013, and assumes the role from Interim Dean Tammy Sugarman.

Staff Spotlight


Brad Underwood
IS&T Service Desk Manager

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The City of Atlanta, Georgia State University and Georgia Institute of Technology will be founding members of the MetroLab Network, announced Sept. 15 at the White House Smart Cities Forum, to research, develop and deploy new technologies to address challenges in the nation’s urban areas.

Georgia State has won the Business Champion of Diversity Excellence Award presented by the Technology Association of Georgia’s (TAG) Human Resources & Diversity Society. The university was selected based on the university’s commitment to build and sustain the representativeness, inclusiveness and engagement of its diverse student body, faculty and staff through professional development, civic engagement and academic programs.

President Mark Becker has been named by Washington Monthly magazine as one of the 10 most innovative college presidents in the United States. The magazine recognized Becker for leading university efforts to use predictive analytics to increase the success of students who are among a racial or ethnic minority group, are low-income or are first-generation college students.

Dawn Aycock, assistant professor of nursing, has been selected as a Fellow of the American Heart Association and will be inducted in November. The fellowship recognizes outstanding contributions in cardiovascular and stroke nursing and health, and volunteer leadership and service within the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.

York Singleton, a facilities coordinator in the College of Law, has received the Black Law Student Association (BLSA) Staff Appreciation Award. The award recognizes outstanding contributions by staff members who help facilitate the mission of BLSA to ensure law students of color reach their maximum potential. This award was renamed the York Singleton Staff Appreciation Award in 2015.

Faculty members Mary Ariail and Judith Emerson have accepted appointments to the edTPA National Academy. The academy is a small group of teacher preparation experts who work with teacher preparation programs, states and regions to implement the edTPA, an external portfolio assessment that showcases a student’s ability to teach in a subject-specific classroom.

Chara Bohan, associate professor of middle and secondary education, has received a $132,588 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to develop a two-week teacher institute for U.S. history teachers.

Gerardo Chowell, associate professor of epidemiology and biostatistics, co-authored the paper, “Multiple Trigger Points for Quantifying Heat-Health Impacts: New Evidence from a Hot Climate,” published in Environmental Health Perspectives.

College of Education and Human Development Faculty members Brendan Calandra, Jonathan Cohen and Maggie Renken have received a $537,514 grant from the National Science Foundation for their Acquainting Metro Atlanta Youth with STEM (AMAYS) project, which is aimed at increasing the number and diversity of students prepared and willing to enter the STEM workforce.

William Coleman, professor of voice and director of external relations, spent July at The Lefkas Music Seminar in Lefkada, Greece. He taught and directed the opera, “Poppea.”

Irene Duhaime, professor of managerial sciences, has been awarded the Trailblazer Award from the Ph.D. Project Management Doctoral Student Association. The award is presented to one faculty member annually. Duhaime was recognized for her outstanding service, leadership and commitment to the management profession, for being an exemplary model for all those who will follow in her footsteps and for her achievements and resourcefulness in overcoming barriers.

Jimmy Dills, research associate II in the Georgia Health Policy Center; Florence Fulk, Tami Thomas-Burton, David Egetter (all from the Environmental Protection Agency); and Yvonne Jones (Atlanta’s Neighborhood Planning Unit L), co-facilitated the workshop, “Health Impact Assessment: Engaging Communities in Local Decisions,” at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Community Involvement Training Conference in Atlanta on Aug. 5.

Patrick Freer, professor of music education, conducted the Missouri All-State Grades 7-8 Mixed Honors Choir on July 21-22. Freer also keynoted the Missouri American Choral Directors Association Conference on July 23. He presented his recent research on singing, the male voice change and male-supportive choral pedagogy.

Peggy Gallagher, professor of early childhood and special education, has been awarded a Fulbright Specialist grant for a project focused on special education curriculum development. She will work with the Department of Disability Studies at Sri Lanka’s University of Kelaniya to review its special education courses and help create a post-graduate study program for students interested in working with children with special needs.

Josh Hinkle, assistant professor of criminal justice and criminology, has received the Springer Outstanding AJCJ (American Journal of Criminal Justice) Article Award for his thesis, “Emotional Fear of Crime vs. Perceived Safety and Risk: Implications for Measuring Fear and Testing the Broken Windows.” Hinkle received the award during the Southern Criminal Justice Association Conference in Charleston, S.C., Sept. 9-12.

Lillie Huddleston, clinical assistant professor of health promotion and behavior, co-authored the paper, “Improving Health Education for Women Who Carry an FMR1 Premutation” in the Journal of Genetic Counseling, as well as “Influence of Congenital Heart Defect on Psychosocial and Neurodevelopment Outcomes in Children with Down Syndrome” in Cardiology in the Young.

Debra Kibbe, senior research associate in the Georgia Health Policy Center, presented “Health Behavior Change and Motivational Interviewing: Patient-Centered Techniques” at the Georgia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ workshop to improve quality care in patients with asthma in Atlanta on Aug. 8.

Betty Lai, assistant professor of epidemiology and biostatistics, was lead author of a paper titled, “Hurricane Katrina: Maternal Depression Trajectories and Child Outcomes,” which was published recently in Current Psychology. Shannon Self-Brown, professor of health promotion and behavior, and researchers Ashwini Tiwari and Brooke A. Beaulieu were co-authors.

Michael Landau, professor of law, has been chosen as an IP Legends Award recipient along with Bill Needle of Ballard Spahr and baseball legend Hank Aaron.

Richard Phillips, dean of the J. Mack Robinson College of Business, has been elected vice president of the American Risk and Insurance Association. The association is the premier academic organization devoted to the study and promotion of knowledge about risk and economics.

Arun Rai’s paper, co-authored with John Qi Dong (University of Groningen), Prasanna Karhade (Hong Kong University of Science and Technology) and Sean Xin Xu (Tsinghua University), titled “Information Technology and Innovation Outputs: The Missing Link of Search Evolution” received the First Runner-Up Best Paper Award at the Academy of Management annual conference from the Organizational Communication and Information Systems Division. The 75th annual conference of the Academy of Management was held in Vancouver from Aug. 7-11.

The School of Public Health will help the Fulton County Department of Health and Wellness conduct research on the prevalence of smoking and attitudes toward secondhand smoke in Fulton, the most populous county in Georgia. The school will receive $485,000 for the first year of work on the three-year project.

Sheryl Strasser, associate professor of health promotion and behavior, was the lead author of the paper, “The State of Marijuana Use in Georgia: A Secondary Needs Assessment,” which was commissioned by The Council on Alcohol and Drugs in Georgia and published recently.

Sally Wallace, associate dean and professor of economics, presented “Culture, Compliance and Confidentiality: A Study of Taxpayer Behavior in the U.S. and Italy,” at the International Society for Economic Measurement Conference in Paris, July 22-24.

Michelle Zoss, assistant professor of middle and secondary education, had an article titled, “’It’s a sad, sad story’: Teaching emotional connections and tone in literature,” published in The Educational Forum.

A group of School of Public Health researchers partnered with the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition to publish “Atlanta Streets Alive: a movement building a culture of health in an urban environment,” in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health. The School of Public Health authors were doctoral student Andrea Torres, Academic Professional John Steward, Sheryl Strasser, Rodney Lyn and Christine Stauber.