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The Weekly Blab 5.18

The Weekly Blab

Volume 5, Issue 18—January 11, 2011


Some Say the World Will End in Fire…

…But in Georgia, I’m putting my money that ice is also great and would suffice.  I’m sure no one wants to hear an ex-New Hampshire-ite talking about how badly this ice storm was handled, but give me a break!  It’s now days later and here in East Cobb, the main roads are still not plowed, sanded, or salted, let alone the side roads in the housing subdivisions.  I drove down Roswell Road (the major road in this part of the county) earlier today, and there were ice ruts in each lane, and right in front of me in the next lane, a car went into a slow spin and was promptly hit by the car behind it which wasn’t able to stop.  Fortunately, no one was hurt, and there was relatively little damage.


At this point, it isn’t clear whether SPSU will open at all this week.  I certainly hope so, but it’s very clear that the decision to stay closed at least on Monday through Wednesday was the correct one, given the miserable condition of the roads.


Board of Regents

I don’t know if everyone heard, but Regent A. Felton Jenkins Jr. passed away on January 1.  While I didn’t personally know him except to say hello at some BoR meetings, here are some excerpts from the Savannah Morning News that were written in his obituary, which can be read in its entirety at the link. 


“A. Felton Jenkins, Jr., Vice Chairman of the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, died on the 1st of January 2011 after a short battle with brain cancer. Born on January 18, 1941 in Madison, Georgia, Jenkins was a retired senior law partner with King & Spalding. He served as Chair of the Georgia Justice Project, President of the Atlanta Chapter of the American Cancer Society and Chairman of the Madison-Morgan Cultural Center… Jenkins earned his undergraduate degree (A.B., 1963) and his law degree (J.D., 1965) from the University of Georgia, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and Omicron Delta Kappa. Admitted to the bar in 1964, he joined the King & Spalding firm in 1965 and later served as Co-Chair of the firm's Litigation Section. As a successful trial lawyer in the state and federal courts, he argued cases in several Federal Circuit Courts of Appeals and before the United States Supreme Court… He retired in 1992, and in 1997, he moved back to his boyhood home, Madison, GA., where he farmed cattle, trees and pasture land in Morgan County. He taught Sunday school and served as a trustee at Madison First United Methodist Church, where he was baptized and raised in servant faith. In addition to his several civic and non-profit board endeavors, he was a golfer, traveler and adventurer. Jenkins climbed Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Hood, Mt. Kilimanjaro, and completed the 33 mile Milford Track in New Zealand. On his most recent international expedition to Nepal in 2009 at age 68, he trekked to the South Base Camp of Mt. Everest at 17,590 feet of elevation…Felton Jenkins, Jr. leaves behind his beloved wife of 44 years, Julie Green Jenkins, and their three children, Felton Jenkins III (wife Karen) of Savannah; Emily Jenkins Followill (husband Tom and their children Sarah and Thomas) of Atlanta; Rev. Alan Davis Jenkins of Atlanta; his sister Virginia Jenkins Payne Foreman (husband Clarence and sons Dr. Miles Payne and William Foreman) of Jackson, MS., many nieces, nephews and cousins.” 


Regent Jenkins’ replacement has now been appointed.  John Millsaps (Associate Vice Chancellor, Media and Publications) sent the following announcement:


“Gov. Nathan Deal has appointed Mr. Philip Wilheit Sr. to complete the unexpired term of Regent Felton Jenkins. Mr. Wilheit was sworn in today by Gov. Deal and this represents one of the new Governor’s very first official acts…


While many of you know Mr. Wilheit or of his background, here are some details of the newest regent.  Wilheit, 66, is the president of Wilheit Packaging and Marketing Images. He served for more than 40 years on the board of the Greater Hall County Chamber of Commerce with one year as chairman and he served more than 20 years on the Georgia Chamber of Commerce with one year as chairman.


Gov. Perdue appointed him to the Economic Development Commission and to the water task force. Wilheit served as treasurer for Deal's campaigns for 28 years and chaired the Deal for Governor campaign. Wilheit participated in Leadership Georgia, and he and his wife Mary Hart are members of Grace Episcopal Church. They have two adult children and three grandchildren.”


Last Week…

Last week began Tuesday with an introductory seminar on the Degree Works software package that SPSU is implementing to support advisement and student retention and graduation.  The session was held in H-203, and as I was walking there, I said to Nikki Palamiotis: “I hope we’re not the only ones here”.  I needn’t have worried—when the session began, H-203 was pretty much filled, in what was one of the best turnouts the implementers said they had seen on any campus.  From where I sit, the software looks good and will help us do a number of important things.  There’s a module that helps students create a two-year graduation plan (which is part of our QEP project, I trust we all remember) that is accurate relative to when courses are scheduled to be offered.  This, of course, will require us to take our “permanent schedules” more seriously and keep them accurate.  Students can also do a “what if” scenario and see what they’ll need to take if they change majors or add a minor.  The two-year graduation plans will allow us to anticipate student demand for particular courses more accurately.  All in all, a very good thing.  Degree Works should be ready to rock and roll for the upcoming fall semester.


The Deans Council meeting on Wednesday was mainly about making sure that things were set for this week’s start of classes (which of course still hasn’t come due to the snow!).  While there are still a lot of moving issues in the new buildings, especially with the labs, this is pretty much “situation normal” for the opening of any major new facilities, and Deans Ray, Currin, and Barnes are working with our faculty, staff, and students to get through them efficiently. 


I was reminded of when I was involved with opening my first new building—the Mendel Science and Engineering Center at Merrimack College.  I thought I had timed things right by being on Sabbatical when the move was supposed to occur, but the project and move were about six months late, which meant that I arrived back just in time.  When we moved the various chemical instruments into the instrumentation lab and set them up on the lab benches, we found there was a tiny design flaw in the facility—there were no electrical outlets whatsoever on the benches, and hence nothing to plug the instruments into!  That problem was quickly addressed, but there were other things that popped up that took longer to deal with—really bad acoustics in the classrooms, piping in the labs that came down from the ceiling directly in line of sight with the blackboards, and so on.  Like I said—situation normal for any new building.


Top 10 Higher Education Issues

The American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) has published what they believe are the “Top 10 Higher Education State Policy Issues for 2011”.  Some of these should look quite familiar, and have been discussed in previous issues of the BLAB.  Without further ado, here they are:


1)      State Operating Support for Public Higher Education

States are continuing to cut back on their budgets in general, and on their support for higher education in particular.  Many governors have taken a “no new taxes” pledge.

2)      States’ College Completion and Educational Attainment Agendas

There is a strong focus on graduation rates, coming not just from the BoR, but also from President Obama, various major foundations, the College Board, and National Governors Association.

3)      College Readiness

Many students enter college unprepared to take college-level courses.  The National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers have coordinated the Common Core State Standards Initiative, to develop national standards for K-12 education aligned with college and work expectations.  More than 40 states have adopted the English Language Arts and Math standards.

4)      Tuition Prices and Policy

Lower state expenditures, higher demand, and higher costs have put the squeeze on universities, forcing them to raise tuition well above inflation.

5)      State Student Aid Program Financing

In many states, the need for financial aid is outstripping the funding available.  In Georgia, the HOPE scholarship is in major financial difficulty.

6)      Student Enrollment Capacity

There have been record student enrollments, due to the sluggish economy and to sizeable gains in the enrollments of ethnic minorities, without funds to handle to growth.  Enrollments have been capped in several state systems.

7)      State Data System Development

There is a greater focus on data systems being used to promote student success from pre-school to college and workplace.

8)      Economic and Workforce Development

The majority of the fastest- growing occupations require at least some kind of

postsecondary education credential.  State lawmakers are calling for public colleges and universities to be more responsive to regional workforce needs.

9)      States’ Political Climate

Higher education is among the more bipartisan policy domains, but here may be some impact on higher education due to a fiscally conservative movement.

10)  States’ Regulatory Framework

Decreasing the constraints brought about by state administrative rules and reporting protocols can lead to significant cost savings and increased revenues at the institutional and system level.


Why I Love the FA Cup

The best sporting competition in the known universe has to be the FA Cup in England.  Everything about it is appealing.  It has history—it is the oldest football championship cup in the world, dating back to 1871.  It involves teams at all levels—from amateur to the top league premiership, so you can see real Cinderella teams knocking off top-flight teams.  There are no seeds—the team you play against is chosen at random.  It’s a knockout competition, meaning that if you lose, you’re out.  If there’s a tie, you have to play again (once—then it’s penalty kicks to decide), except in the final rounds.  [In the past, it used to be that if there was a tie, you’d keep playing again, no matter how many games that took.  Some rounds took six games before a team finally beat its opponent.]  Here’s how Wikipedia describes the 14 rounds (!) of the FA Cup:

There are a total of 14 rounds in the competition — six qualifying rounds, followed by six further rounds (the "proper" rounds), semi-finals, and the final. The competition begins in August with the Extra Preliminary Round, followed by the Preliminary Round and First Qualifying Round, which are contested by the lowest-ranked clubs. Clubs playing in the Conference North and Conference South are given exemption to the Second Qualifying Round, and Conference National teams are given exemption to the Fourth Qualifying Round. The 32 winners from that round join the 48 clubs from League One and League Two in the First Round (often called the First Round Proper). Finally, teams from the Premier League and Football League Championship enter at the Third Round Proper, at which point there are 64 teams remaining in the competition. The Sixth Round Proper is the quarter-final stage, at which point eight teams remain.”

Now that’s a real competition!  It’s like if the Marietta American Legion baseball team could get a shot against the New York Yankees. 


Last week was the “third round proper” of the competition—five to go—and one of the major upsets was that Stevanage (way down in League Two, and only #15 there) beat Newcastle (currently #8 in the Premiership) 3-1.  My favorite Chelsea, the winner of last year’s FA Cup, beat Ipswich (Championship League) 7-0.


Last Week’s Trivia Challenge

Last week’s topic is the state of Nevada.  Our winner was Tommy Tornroos in the Academic Support Center, who go all of them right, taking only 8 minutes to do it.


  1. 1.      What is the capital of Nevada?  Carson City
  2. 2.      What is the state nickname?  The Silver State
  3. 3.      What is “The Biggest Little City in the World”?  Reno
  4. 4.      What was the name of the first casino to open on what was to become the Las Vegas strip?  The Pair-O-Dice Club, 1931.
  5. 5.      For what unusual titles are Candyce King (1952) and Lee A. Merlin (1957) best known?  Miss Atomic Blast, and Miss Atomic Bomb, respectively.


This Week’s Trivia Challenge

This week’s topic (you knew it was coming!) is snow.  As usual, the first with the most takes the prize.


  1. What unlikely named group had a hit song named Snow (Hey Oh)?
  2. John Snow (1813-1858) was a pioneer in what biological area?
  3. Who did the voice of Snow White in the original Disney animated movie?
  4. Where is Snowdonia National Park?
  5. If you hike in the mountains in the summer, you will often see pink patches on the snowbanks, often called “watermelon snow”.  What causes this?   (No looking it up, please!)

 watermelon snow