VP of Academic Affairs

» SPSU Home / Vice President Academic Affairs / The Weekly Blab / Vision for SPSU in 2016

Vision for SPSU in 2016

Vision for SPSU in 2016


Student Centered

The one area that I want SPSU to be known for in ten years is a student centered university. What does this mean? I would be appalled if I thought that we would become a faculty centered, research intensive, teach only if you must, big class sized, typical university. I want students to have easy access faculty and an opportunity to work with the faculty on applications of technology that benefit real people. I want the students to be well cared for with support services that put them first. I want us to produce graduates that are ready to enter the work force and produce immediately. I want to be a place that students seek because we value them and their education.


Arts and Sciences Mission

The mission of the School of Arts and Sciences is "to provide a broad range of knowledge, programs, and opportunities in support of the overall mission of the university...."  Because the courses in a student's major tend to narrow the focus toward the discipline, A&S has the responsibility for teaching the student to see the world as a unified whole, to be able to draw connections between disciplines, to understand how to apply knowledge learned in one setting to solve problems in a different environment, and to teach students how to learn.


Job Placement
Our graduates are getting well-paying jobs in the industry of new technologies.  Our job placement office is in constant contact with industry throughout Georgia and actively focus placement information (through the use of e-files customized for each student) to all students in each of our majors.  Where positions are scarce, they make special efforts to find opportunities, and where few are found, they contact the deans and department heads with suggestions that make use of their data of appropriate emerging areas so that programs can change to fit the needs of the future.  The value of an SPSU degree is that at least 80% of our graduates find work in their chosen fields within one year of graduation.


Learning Really Matters

SPSU is a place where learning really matters. A place where learners are challenged, supported, and encouraged to reach their full potential. A place where every member of the community--faculty, staff, or student--embraces the daily opportunity to expand their knowledge and skills. And a place where it is never enough to know unless one also strives to apply and to extend that knowledge. SPSU is a place where life-long learning isn't a slogan, it's a daily experience.


School of International Studies Established

The Goizueta School of International Studies is located in the building of the same name, near the Schools of Social Sciences, Business, the Arts, and Telepathy. The School houses the World Language Center with its facilities to train interpreter/translators and other professionals for work in government agencies, non-government organizations, international businesses, and interstellar entities. Here students study undergraduate and graduate level languages and are prepared otherwise for continued education abroad in its international campuses in Latin America, Europe, Africa and Asia, and for internships in international agencies and firms abroad. All students in this program are required to sign a contract that they will not speak anything but their target language(s) while in the program, under penalty of expulsion (all international studies teaching takes place in target languages). The faculty is known for is excellence in osmos-teaching and pursues research appropriate to the mission of the G-SIS, both accomplished through think-cast, a process by which professor/researchers think it and the material is downloaded instantaneously into the chip installed in everyone's brain.  (okay, so I fantasize...)


SIS Broadens its Horizons

I would like to see the department broaden its major offerings to encompass many of the majors typically associated with the social sciences and humanities, e.g., political science, history, geography, sociology, philosophy, and various language majors, besides offering merely International Studies and (potentially) psychology.


Technology at SPSU

Technology leadership splits into two divisions:

<1> Infrastructure technologies--including Internet services, phones, utilities, maintenance, etc. Fulfills a subordinate role to academic technologies.

<2> Academic technologies--with leadership and oversight responsibility in all aspects of technology related to teaching and learning. This would include coordination and vision for university-wide instructional technologies, faculty and staff training, technology integration initiatives, and oversight of distance learning. This is the direction that most universities who have successfully deployed and integrated technology have eventually taken--the key is that teaching and learning must drive technology, not the reverse. Reports to the VPAA.


The End of the Two Cultures

SPSU Declares: It’s the End of “Two Worlds” as We Know Them, and We Feel Fine

Some 57 years after C.P. Snow’s famous “Two Cultures” lecture, in which he spoke of the increasing rift between the humanities and science, Southern Polytechnic State University demonstrates that One World is Enough for All of Us. SPSU’s comprehensive undergraduate education allows students to make connections across disciplines that traditional “checklist” approaches to general education will not allow. It has maintained its special status as a “technology university” within the University System, but has managed to infuse a broad, liberal arts perspective throughout its engineering and engineering technology programs. Meanwhile, its College of Arts and Sciences has emerged as a nationally recognized “Destination of Choice” for students interested in pursuing media-integrated liberal arts programs in digital humanities, public scholarship, fine and applied arts, and information design. Its graduate programs continue to flourish by providing a range of interdisciplinary degree offerings unique in the state—degrees that emphasize both the application of knowledge to practical contexts and the broad, theoretical concerns that define the conceptual context for application.


Applied Research
As the Georgia’s Technology University, SPSU is the leader in conducting applied research and transforming technology innovations into business practice. The R&D team at the University’s Applied Research Center (ARC) consists of interdisciplinary researchers working on a variety of areas such as computing, informatics, construction, electrical, mechanical, QA and mechatronics, etc. The ARC provides real-world experience to their students as well, so graduates of SPSU become successful engineers, entrepreneurs, innovators, and researchers in the increasingly competitive global environment. Through the sponsored projects, the University partners with companies to improve processes, upgrade technologies, and develop production solutions.
Over years, SPSU has built its reputation and strength in applied research – applying technology to real-world needs. This strength comes partially from its innovative curriculum reflecting the perfect fusion of liberal arts and applied technology, and well-balanced combination between theory and practice. The national eminent ARC at SPSU builds a critical pipeline for technology-based innovations and provides turn-key solutions to the local community.


Commitment to Students

My personal picture is that of a faculty with a reputation for commitment to students and teaching. Engineering and Engineering Technology programs flourish within the engineering departments with programs sharing faculty and facilities. Faculty are classified as "engineering" faculty whether they teach only engineering, only engineering technology, or both. The collaboration among the engineering faculty provides clear (yet distinct) objectives and curricula for both engineering and engineering technology.



As any politician will tell you, it makes no differences how qualified the candidate or what solid ideas he may have to address the issues of the times if he does not get elected.  No matter how well designed programs and curriculum may have been developed in the years preceding 2016, the institution will not reach its strategic goals if those in the geographic areas it serves do not recognize its value.  For any successful venture, the product or service must be meet or exceed consumer expectations but marketing is what brings the customer to the product.  Successful marketing should include a strong university level effort but it must be supplemented down through the faculty level.  If this is done, by the year 2016 SPSU will be recognized as one of the top educational institutions in the University System just as it is in starting salaries.



The following statement by Jerome Bruner will epitomize teaching at SPSU ten years from now:  “Any subject can be taught effectively in some intellectually honest form to any [person] at any stage of development.”   In other words, teachers will not only fully understand the subject which they teach, but they will also be able to use a variety of means to teach the subject to a diverse group of students.  Teachers will be supported in their efforts by small class size so they can easily use methods of instruction that go beyond lecturing.  Teachers will be supported in their efforts by a Center of Teaching Excellence that will not only hold workshops and lectures on teaching and technology, but will also hold free continuing education courses for faculty in the areas of curriculum building, pedagogy, the use of technology, and the ways in which faculty can use the existing student support systems to aid students.  Teaching well will remain SPSU’s chief criterion for excellence for the SPSU faculty, and faculty will be encouraged to focus on this criterion within their research and will be instructed in how to document their teaching through the use of support materials.


On-line Courses

We’ve witnessed the popularity and growth of “virtual” institutions as well as on-line courses.  The ability of these courses to accommodate individuals who may be unable to dedicate the time required for full-time college work might provide reasons as to why this innovative method of higher education delivery has become popular.  In addition, working professionals may struggle to balance family responsibilities against professional commitments.


Accessibility to Working Professionals and Non-Trad Students

The University Attribute that will carry SPSU into the future is accessibility to educational resources for working professionals and non-traditional students.  SPSU must provide a full range of Distance Education in several formats, and provide opportunities for non-traditional and working students to complete a full course of study by attending evening courses. By doing so, this university will need to additionally offer several student support services to benefit evening students, i.e. tutorial services, registrar’s office hours, and even provide limited office hours for Academic Affairs.

We are doing a great job in student advising. All incoming students/current students know exactly who their advisor is and are scheduled to meet with them on a regular basis. Advisors and advisees are indeed taking the time to get to know one another. Students know exactly what courses they should take and when they should be taken. They understand the ramifications should they fail a class. The vast majority of graduates report that meeting regularly with an advisor has indeed been of great value.



In my opinion, retaining teaching as our primary mission is the most important decision we can make as we look to the future.  Aside from our practical focus, the attributes that set SPSU apart from neighboring institutions are the quality of our teaching, and the care that our faculty demonstrates for its students.  Students might be impressed by our research accomplishments, and they may be positively impacted by our service, but our teaching abilities are where the "rubber meets the road" as far as students are concerned; research and service are of little value to students if the faculty is unable (or unwilling) to help them succeed in their coursework.


Teaching should be the primary criterion used to evaluate faculty performance, and faculty workloads should be carefully evaluated to ensure that adequate time is available for effective teaching.  Other activities should be encouraged and rewarded, especially if they enable faculty to stay current and improve their teaching techniques, but teaching effectiveness should be paramount as far as compensation, promotion, and tenure decisions are concerned.


Bernice is President!

In her State of the University speech delivered at the E-Week luncheon, SPSU President Nufer-Halten declared, “We have reached our goal of becoming Georgia’s Comprehensive Technology University.”  She pointed out that, “by offering degrees and certificates in Technology, Engineering Technology and Engineering we have made ourselves the one-stop-shop for students as well as business and industry looking for technology expertise.  Our industry partners hire our graduates, sponsor our research and contribute funds to our foundation.  Our students participate in the design, development, deployment, evaluation and testing of technology sometimes years before it is available to the public.”  It is interesting to note that SPSU became more comprehensive by becoming more focused.


Flexibility of Delivery Modes

SPSU will be taking a MAJOR role in providing flexibility of delivery methods:

  • interaction with the employers providing initial technical education and continuing technical education live and interactive to the' employers office from a classroom at SPSU
  • traditional delivery method will be less important
  • mixed methods will become more important
  • the work and learning environment will become blended into one experience


Beyond Polytechnic

SPSU needs to consider excelling beyond the traditional polytechnic stature. Teaching, Research, and Service, these are the three basic elements that structures the backbone of a good university. Integration of teaching and research should be the focus. SPSU needs to establish more professional programs and introduce relevant graduate programs. External funding would be hard to avail without having graduate programs and research support and if viewed only as a teaching institute. The name of the university should be associated with its geographic location. Currently we have a large name that does not register with location and hard to remember.


Departmental and School Visions for 2016


School of A&S

  1. In 2016, A&S will consist of 10 departments:  Mathematics and Statistics, Biological Sciences, Chemistry and Biochemistry, Physics and Astronomy (including Geology service courses), ETC (or whatever we are calling them in 2016), Media Arts and Design, Social Sciences (Psychology, Sociology, Philosophy, Anthropology, Religions), History and International Studies (including Political Science and Foreign Languages) and Education.
  2. The departments of Math, Biology, Physics, and Chemistry will be organized as the School of Math and Sciences and will be housed in a new building.  This school will be administered by an Associate Dean.
  3. A&S will continue to lead the University in SCH production, but will also be the leader in number of majors.  One third of all SPSU undergraduate students will major in an A&S program.  The largest departments will be Biology, Education, and Social Sciences (with 400-500 majors each).  The smallest will be Physics, with over 100 majors.
  4. At least five of the departments in A&S will offer Masters degrees:  ETC - 2 degrees, IDC and Instructional Design, Mathematics and Statistics, Education, Biology, Media Arts and Design, The largest graduate program will be Education
  5. Although faculty will hold appointments in a specified department, an increasing number of faculty will have teaching responsibilities that span departments.


By 2017, I would expect our comp classes to have a much greater online presence, with assignments being turned in, graded, and returned electronically.  Students may also be able to download video of class lectures.  Lit classes may well morph (or at least be accompanied by) classes in culture that will cover more than readings from the cannon.  We have yet to explore what we mean by the Media Arts in our department name, and I think we'll be exploring into that area in the upcoming decade.  Because we'll be more involved online, I think we may be able to grow less in space than in technology.



We are still discussing this as a department. Some attributes include:

  • Emphasis on Design
  • Trainers of the Right Brain
  • Creative
  • Interdisciplinary
  • Integrated with local and national industry needs
  • Fluid/Dynamic—capable of adapting to change
  • A Department in its own right, with much growth potential (not just a service department)



In 2016, the Division of Social and International Studies will be a thriving unit of the School of Arts and Sciences. Within in the Division, there will be four departments: History, Social Sciences, Languages, and International Studies. In addition, there are two focus areas with Program Directors: Study Abroad and Science, Technology, and Society. These five units will work collaboratively to offer bachelors degrees in history, political science, psychology, Spanish, and International Studies. In addition, the Division will offer numerous minors, challenging and relevant courses in multiple areas of the general education curriculum, and a wide range of enrichment opportunities available to every student at SPSU. The faculty of the division will be committed to teaching, but also to modeling life-long learning for their students. Every faculty member will have the opportunity and support to participate in at least one off-campus professional growth and development experience each academic year. In addition, resources will be available to allow faculty to participate in, and involve their students in, research on a regular basis.


More SIS

I would like to see the following by 2016 (read: earlier is also possible):

  • A full-fledged degree program/major in Political Science;
  • Additional language offerings beyond Spanish and French (through at least level 2002): most importantly, these may include (in order): Mandarin Chinese, Hindi, Arabic, Farsi, Russian, Paiute
  • Regarding research, it is hoped that some additional incentives would be provided by the University for faculty in SIS to engage in scholarly research (I'm open to suggestions here as to what types of incentives to offer.)
  • Additional incentives provided by the University to support faculty grant-writing activities in SIS
  • Greater opportunity for our majors to interact with faculty on an on-going basis
  • Increased opportunities for study abroad exchanges for both students (majors) and faculty in SIS.



IDC will morph first into a hybrid technical communications-instruction technology/ design program, then build a purely instructional technology/design program serving the corporate sector. This will necessitate higher spending on technology related to instructional development.


Construction Management

Here are some thoughts about 2016 for CM regarding attributes that will define our department:

  • Large enrollment, certainly well over 500, and perhaps in the 650 to 750 range.  Faculty size will increase accordingly.
  • Several degree options will be available to students.  We already have 3, and are about to add another if the BAS  goes through.  I suspect we will see a demand for others as our industry contacts spread.
  • We will have new quarters, one way or another.  Getting a new building designed for our needs will be the best of all worlds.
  • We will receive more support from industry than we are now getting.  I can see half of our O&E funding coming from outside.


The single most important aspect of our department in 2016 will be our size.  If we can reach an enrollment of over 600 students, it will give us critical mass in terms of assets and income that we do not have now.  We will be able to teach in modern facilities, using smaller class sizes, and a greater degree of faculty/student interaction.  In the best of all worlds, we would hire a mix of PhDs and experienced professionals to give the students the benefit of learning from both worlds.



More Construction Management

In 2016 Construction Management Department is expected to have 720 students housed in a state of the art CM building with a Ph. D. program in place.  Be in the top three nation’s CM Program.


Construction Management

Prepare students for professional careers and advanced degree programs and instill our graduates with a sense of ethical and environmental responsibility.  Position the size and offerings of CM program to serve the growing needs of industry and an expanding national and international student population.  Add to the body of disciplinary knowledge through scholarly research and publications.  Be a positive force in the industry and the community we serve through collaboration with other institutions and participation in professional and community organizations.  As a faculty, be well informed and conversant with state of the art technology through continuous professional development.


Information Technology

Our degree programs will have approximately 300 bachelors, 150 masters (including graduate certificate), and 10 doctorates students in IT.


In addition to BSIT and MSIT, we will have two more BS/MS degree programs in the areas of Enterprise Information Systems, and Applied Informatics (Bio-medical Informatics, Healthcare Informatics, E-Government Informatics, Digital Forensic Informatics, etc.) Note: More research has to be done on the new degree programs in terms of their educational objectives, learning outcomes, student source and job market.

Our student body will better reflect the diversity of ethnicities and backgrounds of the population of the state of Georgia.


All undergraduate programs will remain fully accredited by the ABET.


A research center, namely AITC (Advanced Information Technology Center), will be functioning as a bridge between academia and IT industry, a showcase for marketing our programs, a test-bed for emerging IT, and an incubator for new IT entrepreneurs.

To reach these goals, we will have to allocate resources to build the department with these attributes:

  • We will need to hire 3 new tenure-track faculty members and 10 part-time faculty members.
  • We will need 2-4 new smart classrooms and 2-4 hands-on labs with high-profile computing facilities.
  • A seeding fund and a regular budget should be established to support the Advanced Information Technology Center (AITC).



In 2016 we see our department as the Civil Engineering Department with ABET accredited undergraduate programs such as Civil Engineering, Construction Engineering, Environmental Engineering, and Surveying and Mapping and a related graduate program such as Public Works Engineering. Our laboratories have been ungraded with both teaching and separate research capabilities. We see our department within the School / College of Engineering (formerly the School of Engineering Technology and Management) with the other engineering departments (formerly engineering technology departments). This move may well be needed to guarantee visibility and a close relationship with the other engineering departments. A fundamental issue on which the faculty do not agree is "where will civil engineering technology live?". It could be in a new Engineering Technology Division within the College of Engineering or reside within the civil engineering department.


Fashion Design

  • Enrollment of 250 students
  • Predominately female
  • One of the top graduation rates of the university
  • 100% employment of graduates within 4 months
  • Strong industry support


Honors Program

In ten years the University Honors Program will be a fully-developed program set to accommodate the special needs and abilities of its undergraduate students through a strong curriculum, excellent support services, and a robust honors community that provides opportunities for community service, social interaction, and excellent honors housing for all students who wish it. An excellent honors curriculum featuring special courses, seminars, and independent study opportunities will be taught by outstanding faculty members who have been recruited to teach in the program and who have received adequate incentives and compensation for the development and administration of honors courses.  Departments with large populations of honors students will have significant autonomy concerning honors classes and curriculum since they will be able to offer honors classes at the freshmen and sophomore levels within their fields.  Honors students will have access to excellent advising; to mentoring and tutoring as necessary; and to workshops that promote service, leadership, scholarship, career counseling, and graduate education.  Honors housing will have expanded from the existing freshmen program to include housing for upper classmen as well, and it will be in competition with the type of honors housing that is available at many other schools by offering study facilities within the residential hall that are equipped with the latest technology and which can be used for studying, meetings, and seminar-size classes.

See the Basic Characteristics of an Honors Program at the National Collegiate Honors Council webpage since many of the above characteristics are pulled from this group which attempts to set up national standards for honors programs: http://www.nchchonors.org/basic.htm.



The Biology, Chemistry and Physics Department will continue to provide high quality instruction in the sciences. We will continue to integrate technology as a tool for analyzing scientifically-based systems.


This department will continue to search for degree-offering opportunities in other scientific disciplines.  Astronomy, Geology, Physiology and Atmospheric Science might be considered.  Further, the BCP faculty is interested in considering cross-disciplinary or interdisciplinary degree offerings program opportunities in areas such as engineering physics.


Currently, the BCP department is experiencing a shortfall in office and laboratory space. With the introduction of the Chemistry program on the horizon, space will become premium especially considering the need for additional laboratory space to accommodate upper level chemistry courses. Adding other programs, i.e. astronomy, geology, physiology and atmospheric science will further exacerbate the problem.


If SPSU is to remain competitive in its program offerings and even rise in the perception of the public, we must acquire up-to-date and state-of-the-art educational facilities.



  • The faculty who will occupy tenured or tenure-track positions. Need for computer equipment, software, lab space.
  • The mathematics department will continue to teach courses in mathematics. As our student population expands so will the number of sections in a course, assuming class capacities remain at their current levels.
  • Increased enrollment in the math major. Applied/Pure concentrations? Statistics Degree? Need for additional specialized faculty.
  • Interdisciplinary degree programs involving computational mathematics/computer science/engineering/science? Need for specialized faculty, computer equipment, software, lab space.
  • Increased variety in undergraduate course offerings. Need for specialized faculty.



In 2016 I think [the ECET department] should excel in two areas:

1)      Exceptional performance of our graduates in the industrial marketplace

2)      Exceptional performance of our graduates in graduate school


To accomplish this, I feel, would require:

1)      Exceptional faculty performance in teaching with an emphasis on faculty/student interaction

2)      Exceptional student experience in hands-on application of state-of-the-art technology

3)      Our students should have a firm grasp and thorough understanding of fundamental engineering technology concepts (e.g., they should be able to easily pass the F.E. exam).

4)      Our students should have the skills and tools necessary to continue their learning experience (on their own, if necessary) after graduation.

5)      And, finally, we should produce exemplary world citizens.


Other attributes of the ECET department in 2016:

1)      Offers both engineering and engineering technology-based degree programs

2)      Has a few strong research-related programs including alternative energy and bioengineering

3)      Has a student population of 1000 to 1200

4)      Has several strong industrial partnerships (at least 15) via the IAB and various employment paths for current and former students



By the year 2016, SPSU will have offered the BSEE degree for nine years and will have been accredited for a slightly shorter time.  During these nine years, we will have realized there is a tremendous need for electric power engineers and we will have developed courses and laboratories in which to educate them.  At this same time we have developed a partnership with utilities such as Marietta Power, Cobb EMC, Jackson EMC, Georgia Power Company, Oglethorpe Power Company, Southern Company, and others such that we would be satisfying their needs for electric power engineering because of the financial support that they have provided.  There will be a need for a new Electric Power Engineering building and it will be provided by the previously listed utilities.



Center for Academic Excellence (formerly CTE)

In 2016 the Center for Academic Excellence (renamed from Center for Teaching Excellence to reflect the integration of the broad range of activities related to student learning) has nice facilities, a full time director, an administrative assistant, and several student assistants who help to run the facility and are also loaned out to CAE Fellows to help with their grant-related projects sponsored by the CAE.


In addition to supporting seminars and certification programs for faculty development in classroom activities, distance learning, and the introduction of new pedagogical technologies to the campus, and serving as a place for interested faculty to network about these issues, the CAE has been instrumental in improving student learning campus-wide by helping faculty develop new ways to involve undergraduates in research(1).


By promoting the Boyer model(2) of scholarship of integration the CAE has helped SPSU's faculty and students to become leaders in linking student learning to applied research across the curriculum.


Our work in linking faculty-student research and development teams to problems of interest to the surrounding communities and businesses has led to SPSU's being recognized nationally for service-oriented scholarship of engagement carried out by our undergraduates.


The CAE's primary mission, however, is in the scholarship of teaching and learning, and our longstanding (since the "Kickstart Your Research" meeting of 2007) initiative to get SPSU faculty and student research groups to study SPSU's own pedagogy has resulted in numerous meeting presentations, publications, and much improvement of learning at SPSU.


(1) Doyle, Michael P., Ed. Academic Excellence: The Role of Research in the Physical Sciences at Undergraduate Institutions. Research Corporation (2000).


(2)Boyer, E. L. Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of the Professorate. Jossey-Bass (1990).




Department of architecture is an accredited professional program which suffers from not having a graduate program and limiting only to undergraduate studies. The department has several qualified Ph.D. holders who would be able to successfully run a new graduate program in various emphasis areas, such as; Digital Informatics, Urban Design, Design Build, History and Theory, Urban Redevelopment and Adaptive Reuse. Since many graduate students may come with background in practice, the department would be able to cut down the cost of adjunct faculty by employing graduate students as teaching assistants or adjunct teachers. Interaction between graduate students and some 500 undergraduate students will definitely elevate the quality of the learning environment in the department.