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University honors 100,000th graduate

2015 3pm Commencement dc 7.jpg

Kennesaw Campus Commencement marks important milestone

KENNESAW, Ga. (July 30, 2015)—Kennesaw State University student Laura Pyronneau, a biology major from Douglasville, became the 100,000th student to graduate, as the University celebrated an important milestone during its afternoon Commencement on Wednesday.

The 22 year-old Pyronneau was one of more than 1,200 students to graduate in Kennesaw State’s three Commencement ceremonies on the Kennesaw Campus. In addition to her degree, she received a framed special certificate acknowledging her special status among the University’s alumni.

In awarding her degree, Kennesaw State President Daniel S. Papp took note of the special occasion by briefly pausing the proceedings as Pyronneau approached the center of the stage in the Convocation Center.

“Let me introduce to everyone Kennesaw State University's 100,000th graduate, Laura Pyronneau,” Papp said. “Laura did not know she was going to be the 100,000th graduate until what, about an hour ago? Congratulations! Everyone, let's give Kennesaw State University's newest alumni another round of applause!”  

Pyronneau, who graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Biology, is a native of Staten Island, N.Y. Last year, she was selected as one of 14 STEM Scholars in the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation. She also served as a mentor in Kennesaw State’s Odyssey Peer Mentoring Program and participated as a Kennesaw State education abroad student at Universidad del Norte, located in Barranquilla, Atlantico, Colombia. She graduated from Northside (Warner Robins, Ga.) High School in 2011.

“This honor is so awesome. I have enjoyed Kennesaw State so much, and I made so many good friends and loved all my classes and professors. One of the best things for me was taking part in the study abroad experience,” said Pyronneau. “Kennesaw State has really prepared me to go out in the world and succeed!”

Since December 2011, Pyronneau has worked part time as a certified pharmacy technician. Her next step is to attend pharmacy school.

Two ceremonies for another 361 Kennesaw State graduates are planned for the Marietta Campus on Aug. 1. The University graduates approximately 5,500 students each year during fall, spring and summer commencements.

Kennesaw State, which began as a junior college on Oct. 9, 1963, became a four-year college in 1978. It awarded its first bachelor’s degrees in 1980. At the time, fewer than 30 programs were offered. Today, the University has more than 100 undergraduate and graduate degree programs, including an increasing number of doctoral programs.

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Kennesaw State University is the third-largest university in Georgia, offering more than 100 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees. A member of the University System of Georgia, Kennesaw State is a comprehensive university with more than 32,000 students from 130 countries. In January 2015, Kennesaw State and Southern Polytechnic State University consolidated to create one of the 50 largest public universities in the country. 


Contact: Robert S. Godlewski, 470-578-3448,

Photo credit: David Caselli


Kennesaw State mourns loss of longtime friend and benefactor Dr. Bobbie Bailey

Memorial service set for Saturday, Aug. 15, at KSU
KENNESAW, Ga. (July 29, 2015) — The Kennesaw State University community is mourning the loss of longtime friend and benefactor Dr. Bobbie Bailey. Dr. Bailey, who was 87, passed away on Saturday, July 25. She served as a Kennesaw State University Foundation Trustee for more than 22 years and in 1998 was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters in recognition of her extensive support for the University.
A memorial service will be held on the Kennesaw State campus at the Dr. Bobbie Bailey & Family Performance Center on Saturday, Aug. 15, at 11 a.m. 
“We are saddened by Bobbie’s passing, and we extend our condolences to her family,” said Kennesaw State University President Daniel S. Papp. “Bobbie lived a life of generosity and caring. She was larger than life and her incredible spirit, loyalty, and enthusiasm will be greatly missed.”
Dr. Bailey’s legacy at Kennesaw State is far reaching and began with women’s softball.
From 1960 to 1980, Dr. Bailey managed the Lorelei Ladies, an all-women’s fast-pitch softball team that played throughout the U.S. and won national championships several years in a row. In 1991, KSU initiated its first season of fast-pitch softball. At that time, Dr. Bailey had just met then KSU President Betty Siegel. As their friendship blossomed, Siegel introduced Dr. Bailey to then-Head Softball Coach Scott Whitlock. Soon after, Dr. Bailey adopted the Owls softball program as her own and provided scholarships for softball players. She also provided the lead gift for what is now the Bobbie Bailey Athletic Complex, dedicated in 2005 and the current home of Kennesaw State’s baseball and softball teams.  
“The Owls softball program will always be identified with Dr. Bobbie Bailey and the Bailey family for their generosity and support,” said Whitlock. “Dr. Bailey’s concern and interest for opportunities for female athletes was ahead of its time. Her spirit and love of competition will always be a part of the KSU softball family.”
Dr. Bailey was also an avid music lover. She became a member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences in 1980, producing records on her own RX-Melody and Southernaire labels, and she served as president of the Friends of Georgia Music Festival, Inc. For the past 37 years, Dr. Bailey was executive producer of the annual Georgia Music Hall of Fame Awards, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2007.
Over the years as she became more engaged with Kennesaw State, Dr. Bailey became a major supporter of KSU’s College of the Arts. What began with music scholarships by 2007 became an endowment and naming of the 624-seat Dr. Bobbie Bailey & Family Performance Center at Kennesaw State.
During the dedication ceremony of the Bailey Center, she surprised Kennesaw State officials by announcing that she was gifting 44 Steinway pianos to the university, thereby enabling KSU’s School of Music to earn the prestigious distinction of an All-Steinway School. 
“Dr. Bailey had a profound and lasting positive impact on thousands of lives through her philanthropy. The College of the Arts benefits daily from her generous gifts,” said Patricia Poulter, dean of Kennesaw State’s College of the Arts. “Her enthusiastic sense of possibility infuses the very spirit of student, faculty, and community experiences in the College of the Arts. We are honored to continue her legacy.”
Born in Alabama and raised in LaGrange and then Atlanta, Dr. Bailey began her career by tuning race cars when she was 12 years old, discovering her gift for mechanics. During World War II, she worked for a company that refabricated refrigeration compressors, which led to the start of her own company, Our-Way, Inc. As sole owner and CEO, Dr. Bailey built the company into a $45 million-a-year enterprise, which employed more than 350 people, before she sold it to Carrier Corp. in 2001.
But her entrepreneurial endeavors did not end there. Dr. Bailey also ran three other businesses: Entertainment Resources Services (a mail order distribution company), Bailey Design (a residential construction company), and Southernaire Realty (a real estate holding company).
Dr. Bailey’s interests extended well beyond starting and running businesses. Her adventurous spirit led her to join the Greenland Expedition Society, which launched seven expeditions to Greenland to recover the “Lost Squadron” of World War II U.S. The “Lost Squadron” was a group of U.S. aircraft that crash-landed in Greenland and were hundreds of feet below the icecap. In 1989, Dr. Bailey and her team designed and fabricated the probes, casing, drilling shaft, and saws that retrieved a B-17 from the Lost Squadron. Three years later, Dr. Bailey’s team brought up an intact P-38 Lightning from 265 feet below the ice. In 2007, that P-38, the newly christened “Glacier Girl,” flew to Europe via Greenland to complete the World War II flight it had begun 55 years earlier.
Joe Meeks, retired dean of Kennesaw State’s College of the Arts, captured the sentiments of all who knew and were associated with Dr. Bailey: “Bobbie was my friend, my inspiration, my champion. I will miss her greatly. But when I look around at the unbelievable legacy she has left behind – in her buildings, in the scholarships she has endowed and the better lives she has created for so many people – I know her goodness and kindness to others will live on for generations to come.”
Memorial contributions in honor of Dr. Bailey may be made to the KSU Foundation for the Dr. Bobbie Bailey Music Scholarship or to the DeKalb Medical Foundation for the Emergency Department.
Kennesaw State University is the third-largest university in Georgia, offering more than 100 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees. A member of the University System of Georgia, Kennesaw State is a comprehensive university with more than 32,000 students from 130 countries. In January 2015, Kennesaw State and Southern Polytechnic State University consolidated to create one of the 50 largest public universities in the country.

Kennesaw State officially opens permanent site in Italy’s Tuscan region

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 Photo: Dr. Papp celebrates with Montepulicano's Mayor Rossi, center, and Andrea Natalini, president of the Consorzio del Vino Nobile di Montepulciano
Restored fortress in Montepulciano is University’s first international education facility
KENNESAW, Ga. (June 30, 2015)Kennesaw State University has officially opened its first permanent international education site in a historic 13th century fortress in Montepulciano, Italy, allowing the University to conduct year-round academic programs there.
A ribbon cutting, banquet, tours and wine tasting marked the official opening of the University’s International Programs in Tuscany at the Antica Fortezza Poliziana, where Kennesaw State occupies 4,000 square feet.  The second floor of the Fortezza was renovated to accommodate six classrooms, an apartment for a director, meeting space and offices to support study abroad programs and courses in visual and culinary arts, history, literature, Italian language and political science.
While the University has conducted summer academic programs in the region for nearly 20 years in a rented school, the new permanent space will allow it to offer programs during the fall and spring terms as well — the first of which will launch in fall 2015. Up to 25 first-year students will spend seven weeks at KSU and seven weeks in Montepulciano taking general education courses. They also will be matched with career mentors who will foster their interest in global engagement. 
“This is a historic moment for Kennesaw State University and its international education programs,” President Daniel S. Papp said during the opening ceremonies.  “This facility expands the academic options and cultural horizons for our students as they become engaged, global citizens. We are honored to be a part of the town of Montepulciano and the Tuscan region and humbled by the warm reception we have received here.”
Under a 25-year rental agreement approved by the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia in November 2012 and funded by $520,000 from the Kennesaw State Foundation and private donors, the University shares the Fortezza with the Consorzio del Vino Nobile, a consortium of 80 wine growers that partnered to complete the renovation. The building’s common spaces will be used for cultural programs open to the local community.  
Montepulicano Mayor Andrea Rossi welcomed Kennesaw State officials, trustees, students and guests to the grand opening of the Fortezza, which has undergone decades of restoration since it was last used as a silk factory in the late 19th century.
“We are so proud that Kennesaw State has joined with the people of Montepulciano and our friends throughout the region to become a part of the continuing history of this important landmark,” Rossi said, noting the history of the site now occupied by the Fortezza. “We know that this site was inhabited more than 2,000 years ago and became the site of a strategically important fortezza in 1261 and an industrial site in the late 1800s. Now, it has new life and promise for the future.”
The Fortezza project has relied on critical partnerships that allow the University to establish a footprint in the Tuscan region and across Europe as well, said Lance Askildson, vice provost and Kennesaw State’s chief international officer.
“This new site exemplifies the value and power of international collaboration and local relationship building over time,” Askildson said. “Montepulciano has been a staple of Kennesaw State’s international education programs for more than 15 years, but what really stands out is the level of community engagement and reciprocity that we have developed with our partners and dear friends here in the Communé di Montepulciano.  KSU’s presence and investment in Montepulciano is built upon a mutual regard and trust that has been cultivated between our two communities and has allowed each of us to learn from each other and grow.”
Askildson also announced the formation of a faculty advisory board for Montepulciano that will be coordinated by the University’s Global Affairs Division, which he heads.  The board is composed of representatives from each of Kennesaw State’s 13 colleges.
“What we have started in Montepulciano will allow us over time to combine resources in order to scale up to as many as 500 students a year from various programs, expanding the Kennesaw State footprint here, throughout the region and into other European cities,” he said.
Kennesaw State University is the third-largest university in Georgia, offering more than 100 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees. A member of the University System of Georgia, Kennesaw State is a comprehensive university with more than 32,000 students from 130 countries. In January 2015, Kennesaw State and Southern Polytechnic State University consolidated to create one of the 50 largest public universities in the country. 

Community partnership brings unique summer program to Paulding site

Horizons National summer program

Program aims to help low-income children avoid the “summer slide”

KENNESAW, Ga. (June 29, 2015) – A unique summer program aimed at stopping the infamous “summer slide” has come to Kennesaw State University.

Horizons National – a transformational, community-centered program that closes achievement and opportunity gaps for low-income children – is hosting 15 students for a six-week summer program at Kennesaw State’s Paulding site. The program is being funded by a nearly $40,000 grant from Horizons.

“The first week was absolutely awesome,” said Terri Collins, Bagwell College of Education assistant director for education and educational outreach at Paulding and site director for the summer program. “We have small classes focused on reading, STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and art, led by professional teachers.”

In addition to the classroom instruction, students also participate in weekly field trips and swimming lessons three times a week.

“The swimming lessons provide the students with confidence, self-esteem and exercise,” Collins said. “The field trips provide them with experiences and opportunities they might otherwise not have.”

According to Collins, the program began when the headmaster of a private school realized his facility wasn’t used at all during the summertime, and he had the idea to use the space to help stop the “summer slide.”

“Children lose about three months worth of instruction time during the summer, if they don’t have these experiences and activities,” Collins said. “And, once they start behind, they’re always behind. If you do the math, by the fifth grade, they’re almost two-and-a-half years behind.”

The program takes rising first graders and will follow them through the eighth grade, hosting a summer program each year that will take another 15 rising first graders yearly.

“So our numbers are multiplying each year,” Collins said. “The high school graduation rate is around 75 percent in Paulding County, and we need to address these issues in elementary school.”

Partnering with Horizons National is exactly the type of community engagement the university seeks out, according to Executive Director of Community Engagement Brian Wooten.

“The Paulding site was a beautiful place for us to start this because they are so connected to that community already,” Wooten said. “The impact can be quite significant as we grow into maturity with this program.”

During the first week of the program, visitors from Horizons National, based in Westport, Conn., were on site and impressed with what they saw, Wooten said.

“As they left, they said, ‘we not only saw the magic in this program, we felt it,’” Wooten said. “We see this as a model of what we want to do. We want to see the university playing a partnership role with the community, locally, regionally and nationally.”

– Jennifer Hafer

--Photo by Anthony Stalcup

Message from Kennesaw State President regarding campus safety and security

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KENNESAW, Ga (June 24, 2015) – Kennesaw State University President Daniel S. Papp today released an update to the campus community regarding campus safety and security.

Statement regarding alleged sexual assault on campus

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KENNESAW, Ga (June 23, 2015) – Kennesaw State police are investigating a sexual assault report by a female student at the University.
On the evening of June 22, Kennesaw State police were notified of the alleged incident by a Marietta Police Department officer stationed at WellStar Kennestone Hospital. The officer informed officials that a female student had reported being sexually assaulted on the campus.
According to Kennesaw State police, the alleged incident is reported to have occurred between 11 p.m. on June 21 and 1:20 a.m. on June 22 in the Austin Residence Complex on the University campus. Upon learning of the incident, Kennesaw State police issued a timely notification to all students, faculty and staff in compliance with the Jeanne Clery Disclosure Act.
“Campus safety is our top priority,” said Kennesaw State University Daniel S. Papp. “There is no place in our campus community for sexual assault.
“We take this issue very seriously, and all of our law enforcement resources are being brought to bear to ensure that we get to the bottom of this situation swiftly and accurately,” Papp added.  “At the same time, our Title IX office is taking all appropriate steps to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our students. All of our actions will be conducted in a manner respectful of the rights of all those involved.  If wrongdoing is established, we will take every step within our power to ensure that those responsible are held accountable.”


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New Jersey Institute of Technology Joins Atlantic Sun Conference


NJIT to Become Official Member on July 1

Official A-Sun Conference Release (PDF) | NJIT Athletics Website

MACON, Ga. (June 12, 2015) – The Atlantic Sun (A-Sun) Conference Presidents Council announced today that the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) will join the Atlantic Sun Conference effective July 1, 2015, with competition to begin in all sports for the 2015-16 academic year. 

The addition of NJIT brings the A-Sun membership to eight institutions for 2015-16. The NJIT Highlanders field 14 Division I sports sponsored by the A-Sun including baseball, men's and women's basketball, men's and women's cross country, men's and women's soccer, men's and women's indoor and outdoor track & field, men's and women's tennis and volleyball.
"I join with my fellow Atlantic Sun Conference presidents in extending a hearty welcome to the New Jersey Institute of Technology," said Kennesaw State University President Daniel S. Papp. "The academic and athletic philosophies of NJIT are in line with Kennesaw State's as well as those of the other current A-Sun member institutions. NJIT's membership will expand the reach and create greater exposure for the A-Sun Conference and provide new competitive opportunities for our athletic teams and student-athletes. We look forward to engaging with the school's leadership and to the competition that will build between our teams."  
Kennesaw State Director of Athletics Vaughn Williams also looks forward to NJIT joining the A-Sun Conference. 
"The addition of New Jersey Institute of Technology to the A-Sun Conference represents a great day for our league," Williams said. "I would like to congratulate Commissioner Ted Gumbart for leading this process and welcome NJIT to the Atlantic Sun Conference. We are extremely excited to begin competing against NJIT this upcoming season and building rivalries in the arenas of competition." 
The Highlanders' men's swimming and diving team has been a member of the Coastal Collegiate Swimming Association for two years, which the A-Sun currently operates in partnership with three other Division I conferences. NJIT will be included in regular season schedules and eligible for individual awards, regular season and postseason team titles immediately with the exception of men's soccer. Because of existing commitments, men's soccer will play in A-Sun schedules beginning in the 2016-17 academic year. The addition of NJIT and the New York media market will also bring the A-Sun exposure in seven of the top markets in the nation.
"We have developed excellent working relationships with the Atlantic Sun Presidents and conference leadership. We share a commitment to academic excellence, the best possible quality student-athlete experience and the value of long-standing partnerships," commented Joel S. Bloom, president of New Jersey Institute of Technology, "The quality of interaction with our colleagues in the Atlantic Sun has been invigorating, and we look forward to being part of what clearly is a remarkable conference at a very special point in its history."
NJIT, located in Newark, N.J., is a particularly good fit for the A-Sun, both academically and philosophically. With an enrollment of 10,646, NJIT has been recognized by U.S. News and World Report, Forbes and the Brookings Institute, to name a few, for its success academically. The U.S. News Best Colleges edition ranked NJIT 149th among national universities overall for its range of undergraduate, master's and doctoral degree programs and for its commitment to groundbreaking research. NJIT also ranked 14th among national universities on the Campus Ethnic Diversity list. Called an "America's Top College" by Forbes, NJIT also checked in as one of the top 10 colleges and universities in the nation for high value-added in terms of occupational earning power. Additionally, CBS Money Watch called the institution a "hidden gem" in its 2015 "new ranking of college superstars."
"On behalf of my colleagues on the Atlantic Sun Conference Presidents Council, I am proud to welcome New Jersey Institute of Technology as the newest member of the A-Sun," said A-Sun Presidents Council Chair and USC Upstate Chancellor, Dr. Tom Moore.
"We are very pleased to be able to expand in partnership with an institution that shares the primary A-Sun values of academic and athletic success. NJIT adds an institutional academic profile that makes a great fit with our membership, and the Highlander student-athletes achieve at a rate that meets the record-setting levels of the rest of the A-Sun.
"This expansion provides a mutually beneficial increase in institutional and conference exposure for student recruitment, alumni engagement and media coverage of our athletic achievements," he added.
For the fifth year, NJIT was named to the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, one of the highest federal recognitions a college or university can receive for its commitment to volunteering, service-learning and civic engagement. NJIT joins seven current A-Sun members from the 2014 list.
A-Sun Commissioner Ted Gumbart added, "As we continue building the A-Sun, adding NJIT brings an overall institutional presence that will contribute academically, athletically, and with the overall student-athlete experience. We look forward to celebrating this announcement together and competing with them for championships this coming season."

The efforts of the NJIT administration, Highlanders athletic department, and coaching staff have paid off as the Highlanders have achieved national, regional, and local recognition for their accomplishments on the playing field, including honors, titles and awards earned as a member of the Great West Conference, the ECAC, and the Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association.
However, the Highlanders' crowning achievement came this year with a historical run by Coach Jim Engles and the men's basketball program. Sporting the school's first 20-win season, a signature win over the  No. 17 ranked Michigan Wolverines in Ann Arbor, and a final regular season RPI that ranked the only Division I Independent as the 13th ranked "conference," the Highlanders advanced to the semifinals of the Tournament, the school's first-ever postseason appearance.
In addition to expanding the scope of varsity sports offered at the Division I level, the administration and athletic departments have successfully funded the construction of three major campus athletic facilities: Wellness & Events Center ($100 million multipurpose venue, featuring a 3,500-seat basketball arena); Lubetkin Field at J. Michael Simon Stadium (an all-weather SprinTurf-covered soccer/lacrosse facility, which includes lights, seating for over 1,000 spectators, a press box and scoreboard); and the Naimoli Family Athletic and Recreation Facility (a 25,600-square foot indoor tennis and recreation center.)
"This is a great day for NJIT, our department, and most importantly our student-athletes," said NJIT Director of Athletics Lenny Kaplan. "It has been an almost 10-year journey to find the right conference home for our athletic teams, and I am excited that the Atlantic Sun is that home. Many people have put in a lot of work to get to this point, none more than our coaches and student-athletes, and I hope they all get to enjoy this day and the opportunities that will follow."
The Atlantic Sun Conference is an NCAA Division I league with eight member institutions committed to Building Winners for Life. The A-Sun meets the challenge of maintaining the highest standards in academic and athletic achievement with a true balance between student and athlete. Headquartered in Macon, Ga., the A-Sun boasts exposure in seven of the top 75 media markets in the nation. The A-Sun includes a blend of the most prestigious and dynamic private and public institutions in the region: Florida Gulf Coast University, Jacksonville University, Kennesaw State University, Lipscomb University, University of North Florida, University of South Carolina Upstate and Stetson University. New Jersey Institute of Technology will join the Atlantic Sun Conference effective July 1, 2015.

To keep up with the latest Kennesaw State athletics news follow the Owls on Twitter @KSUOwlNation or by liking Kennesaw State University on Facebook.




Clendenin family expands support for Kennesaw State graduate students


PHOTO: Reuben Hilliard, left, and Kyle Jones, are the 2015 Clendenin Scholars Program recipients

New society of scholars announced alongside 2015 annual scholarship recipients

KENNESAW, Ga. (June 11, 2015)— Kennesaw State University has announced the formation of the Clendenin Scholars Society, aimed at developing the institution’s academic stature by promoting academic discourse and educational programming.

Planning is underway for the new society, which will be comprised of student scholars, faculty and community members. It will develop strategies to supplement Kennesaw State’s graduate and undergraduate curricula with lectures, workshops, conferences, seminars, films, electronic media, and other modes of knowledge dissemination.

Formation of the new organization coincides with the release last month of the 2015 recipients of the Clendenin Scholars Program, which awards up to $20,000 annually to high-achieving Kennesaw State graduate students. The scholars society and the scholarship program are named in honor of the Clendenin family, longtime supporters of the University.

“This is an exciting new endeavor that will engage some of KSU’s brightest graduate students in developing strategies to enhance the academic vitality of Kennesaw State,” said Thomas E. Clendenin, a long time KSU Foundation trustee. “Our family is very passionate and committed to improving the academic quality of KSU.”

Kennesaw State University President Daniel S. Papp announced the Clendenin Society during his “State of the University” address in May, and thanked the Clendenin family for their continued support and commitment to funding the Clendenin Scholars Program.

“[These initiatives] will support KSU's commitment to becoming a nationally recognized public institution, known for its academic excellence and outstanding graduate programs,” Papp said.

In addition to announcing the Clendenin Society, the University recently identified the 2015 Clendenin Scholars.

Kyle Jones will receive $20,000 a year to complete his doctorate in English education at Kennesaw State’s Bagwell College of Education. Reuben Hilliard, a student in Kennesaw State’s accelerated bachelor’s-master’s program, will receive $15,000 annually to pursue the Master of Science in Applied Statistics degree at the University. Hilliard graduated last month with a Bachelor of Science in Biology with a minor in Applied Statistics and Data Analysis. In addition to their financial scholarship awards, both Clendenin scholars will receive full tuition waivers to their respective graduate programs.

Jones and Hilliard were among 50 applicants vying for the 2015 Clendenin Scholars Program.

“It is always a challenging task to identify two recipients from a highly competitive pool of accomplished applicants.” said Ivan Pulinkala, chair of the Clendenin Scholars selection committee and coordinator for the new Clendenin Scholars Society. “This year’s recipients are exemplary scholars who have established a record of significant success within their disciplines. We are grateful to the Clendenin family for their generosity and vision to recognize outstanding student achievement at KSU."

Jones, a Public Service and Leadership Academy coach and English teacher in Gwinnett County Public Schools, holds a bachelor’s and specialist degree in English education from Kennesaw State and a master’s in learning, design, and technology from the University of Georgia. He honed skills in curriculum design, teacher leadership, and community networking while developing and implementing a multi-subject, project-based learning (PBL) program in 2009. His academic interests include student-centered instructional strategies, teacher-led professional development programs, educational journal clubs, school climate and culture, and teacher leadership. He also participates in multiple community mentorship programs and is a self-taught musician, published writer and amateur graphic designer.

Hilliard, who grew up in Cape Town, South Africa, started his academic career at Louisiana State University and moved to Atlanta from Baton Rouge in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, disrupting his studies. He spent 10 years working in information technology, but decided to return to college to complete his degree. As a non-traditional student, he took advantage of opportunities to display his scholarship, presenting at Kennesaw State’s Statistics and Analytical Sciences (SAS) Day, “R” Day and Biology Symposium in 2014. He also represented the University as a student finalist in a SAS analytics conference in Las Vegas, Nev. He has since become a certified SAS base programmer. In addition, he was the recipient of the Carmax Academic Scholarship for spring 2015. His research intersects the disciplines of biology and statistics, focusing on environmental sciences and, more specifically, water and soil ecological conservation efforts in Georgia. In his free time, Hilliard visits with the special needs children in a Cobb County classroom.

This year’s recipients are among 39 graduate students who have been awarded Clendenin scholarships. To date, 30 recipients have earned advanced degrees ininformation systems, nursing  science, biological sciences, conflict management, educational leadership and business administration. Almost half of the recipients earned their graduate degrees at Kennesaw State.

The Clendenin Scholars Program originally supported students pursuing masters or doctoral degrees at Kennesaw State or any accredited university. It currently awards scholarships exclusively to students enrolled at Kennesaw State, where nearly 2,000 graduate students are enrolled in one of 29 master’s degree or eight doctoral degree programs.

For more information about the Clendenin Scholars Program, visit


Kennesaw State University is the third-largest university in Georgia, offering more than 100 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees. A member of the University System of Georgia, Kennesaw State is a comprehensive university with more than 32,000 students from 130 countries. In January 2015, Kennesaw State and Southern Polytechnic State University consolidated to create one of the 50 largest public universities in the country. 

Major steps taken to address departmental problems with academic advising

Kennesaw Hall Crowded.JPG

Academic advisor suspended and new protocols implemented to better address students’ needs

KENNESAW, Ga(June 5, 2015) — Following a comprehensive review of the academic advising process in the Department of Exercise Science and Sport Management within Kennesaw State University’s WellStar College of Health and Human Services, officials have made several changes to improve academic advisement practices – including suspending Abby Dawson from her advising responsibilities.

The review was prompted by a complaint a student made about an interaction he had with Dawson on May 13, which was documented by the student on video and distributed via social media. Dawson was placed on administrative leave on May 15, pending the outcome of the review.

Conducted over a period of approximately two weeks, the review included interviews with 13 students, faculty and staff members. As a result of the review, the College’s advising process will undergo a complete reorganization, including:

  • Moving away from a department-administered model, and centralizing the academic advising process for the entire College, under the direction of Roxanne Donovan, currently the interim associate dean of Humanities and Social Sciences;
  • Student-service, diversity and cross-training for all advisors; and
  • Additional advising staff to ensure proper advisor-to-student ratios.

Dawson, who has been given a formal written warning, will be temporarily reassigned and will not be permitted to advise students unless she successfully completes training and demonstrates the ability to be sensitive to students and their needs.

“We have made it very clear to Ms. Dawson and her supervisors that the behavior she demonstrated on the video will not be tolerated; and while we have apologized to the student directly, we also want to publicly apologize for her behavior, which is not representative of KSU’s student-centered culture,” said Ken Harmon, provost and vice president of academic affairs. “While we in no way condone Ms. Dawson’s actions, we also acknowledge that we need to make some changes in our advising structure to provide more training and support for our staff so that they are better equipped to help our students navigate their college experience.”

Harmon added that improving academic advising is a priority across the university and will be the main focus for Kennesaw State’s new Senior Vice Provost John Omachonu, who will join the University on July 1. Omachonu currently serves as vice provost for academic affairs and chief diversity officer at Middle Tennessee State University.

“Our goal is to become a leader in the area of academic advisement. The bottom line is that we need to do a better job and, while we have some work to do, we want to be a national model,” said Harmon. “Already we have identified ways to improve our advising operations and ability to meet students’ individual needs so that we are doing everything possible to help them succeed in college and beyond.”

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Kennesaw State University is the third-largest university in Georgia, offering more than 100 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees. A member of the University System of Georgia, Kennesaw State is a comprehensive university with more than 32,000 students from 130 countries. In January 2015, Kennesaw State and Southern Polytechnic State University consolidated to create one of the 50-largest public universities in the country.

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