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The Weekly Blab 5.30

The Weekly Blab

Volume 5, Issue 30—April 26, 2011


Hanging By Their Fingernails

The Boston Red Sox have won their last five in a row, and are now in third place, half a game behind Tampa Bay, so it looks like the panic was premature.  Meanwhile, Chelsea is hanging on by their fingernails.  They won 3-0 on Saturday against West Ham, putting them in 2nd place, 6 points behind Manchester United in the Premiere League.   What’s more, the big news is that Fernando Torres (the striker they acquired for £50M), has finally scored a goal after about 900 accumulated playing minutes.  I can’t imagine the pressure that was on him, but I suppose £50M makes it somewhat easier to take!  There are four games left in the season, and one is against Manchester United.  So, it’s not likely, but hope springs eternal.


Teacher of the Year

Last Wednesday, I had the pleasure of attending the Teacher of the Year festivities, honoring Glenn Allen (Engineering).  Glenn is well known for being the stalwart behind the Mechatronics Engineering program, but many people don’t know that he also earned his degrees at SPSU back when it was called the Southern College of Technology.  All in, he’s been associated with SPSU for well over 30 years.  There was a nice lunch down in the X, where I got to meet Glenn’s parents and brother, as well as some of his mentors and the first graduating students in Mechatronics.  Glenn gave an interesting talk about a software package for scheduling that he has helped create and develop.  Congratulations Glenn!


Speaking of teaching excellence, let me congratulate this year’s winners of the Outstanding Teacher Awards.  It was a clean sweep for the School of Arts and Sciences, with the winners being (drum roll please…) William Griffiths (Mathematics), Thomas Rotnem (who teaches Poly Sci. in SIS), and Beth Stutzman (who teaches Music in ETCMA).  All are excellent teachers who represent the best that SPSU has to offer.  Give them a hearty “well done” when you see them.


International Forum Lecture

Thursday brought an interesting talk by Dr. Juan Del Aguila of Emory University, who spoke on “Democrats and Populists in Latin America: Who is Winning?” The talk was held in the Design II Auditorium (Building I-2), which is a beautiful venue and was well attended.  For those who couldn’t attend, there has been a real shift in government in Central and South America.  Not so long ago, there were relatively few democratically elected governments, with military dictatorships being the rule.  Now, it’s almost all elected leaders, though some of these leaders’ take on democracy is a bit skewed.  Some economies are doing quite well (Chile and  Brazil being in the lead), but all still have serious problems of wealth distribution, with large percentages of their population living in dire poverty.  A real problem in Latin America is capital outflow—the wealthy have a tendency to invest their money outside their countries, such as in the US or in Europe.  Thus, there isn’t as much private funding for economic development available as there could be.  Dr. Aguila was passionate about his subject, and his talk was a worthy addition to the SIS Department’s International Forum Lectures.


Service Awards

Monday was the annual SPSU Service Awards, and there were sure a lot of awardees!  Lisa had totaled up the number of years of service, and the result was so large it had to be given in scientific notation.  Bennie Houck (Registrar’s Office) led the group with 35 years of service.  Also announced were the Staff Awards (Donna Zeigler from A&S won one), Outstanding Teacher Awards (see above), faculty who had gotten promoted and tenured (congratulations to all!), and two new emeritus faculty members—Howard Itzkowitz (Architecture) and Alan Gabrielli (Arts and Sciences).  There were many other awardees and I don’t have the final list with me, so please forgive me if I left your name out.



The Biology and Chemistry programs sponsored a cookout and volleyball game on Monday, and there was an excellent turnout of both students and faculty who were dressed for sports action.  Mark Sugalski (Biology) bravely manned the grill (and picked up some grease in the process) while dodging errant shots from the court.  The weather threatened throughout, but the party went on.  Alan Gabrielli and I just watched from the sidelines, using lack of sneakers as our excuse.


That Was the Year that Was

We’re almost to the end of the academic year, and without a doubt, this year has shot by at a faster rate than any I remember in the past.  It could have been a horrible year, given the continuing budget cuts, no raises yet again, and generally ugly national political tone.  Yet, despite our challenges, it turned out to be another banner year for SPSU.  We opened almost $100M of new facilities, including two beautiful academic buildings (and had a great ribbon-cutting ceremony for the ETC today; Design II’s ribbon-cutting will be in the Fall), new residence halls, new dining facilities, and a much needed parking deck.  We gained approval for a new degree program (M.S. in Architecture), have five more pending, and five additional ones on deck that we’ll try to wrap up soon.  We have more students than ever before, and each graduation has been the largest in history.  In another week, we’ll celebrate our 100th graduation. As I’m typing this, we just got word from Mike Orlandella that SPSU’s Steel Bridge Team came in 1st place in this year’s Southeastern Regional Competition, beating out such minor opponents as University of Florida, University of Tennessee, University of South Florida, Vanderbilt, and Auburn.  Our students continue to excel, given the excellent education provided by our faculty and given the excellent support by our staff.


So how did we do it?  Obviously by good planning, pulling together, upholding our ideals, and focusing on what really matters—serving our students.  We’re a great University, doing what our state desperately needs:  providing a rigorous and thoughtful education in critical subject areas.  You should all be proud of the jobs you have done, and you have my deepest thanks for having achieved another great year. 



Last Week’s Trivia Contest

Last week’s trivia topic was money.  Our fiscal winner was Bow Van Riper, with a whopping 4.5 correct out of the five.   Previous winners who haven’t gotten their loot, please bear with me—I’ll be sending it out soon.


1.  Between 1909 and 1959, what was on the back of the penny?  Stalks of wheat

2.  Who is on the current US $10 bill? Alexander Hamilton

3.  In what year were pennies made out of steel?  1943

4.  In what city in Georgia were coins once struck, and what was the first denomination struck there?  Dahlonega, $5 gold piece (called a half-eagle)

5.  What is the largest denomination banknote every printed in the US, and who is on it?   $100,000, Woodrow Wilson.  No, I don’t have one of those in my collection!  The largest ever in the world was a 100 quintillion (that’s 1020!) pengo note issued by Hungary in 1946.  Now that’s hyperinflation!


 100 quintillion pengo note


This Week’s Trivia Challenge

There isn’t one.  This is the last Weekly Blab for the season.  I’ll try to do an issue a month or so over the summer, and start up again in the Fall.