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Owls celebrate inaugural football game with a 56-16 win

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A historic night of firsts adds up to victory for Kennesaw State football

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn.  (Sept. 4, 2015) – There was a moment at the end of Kennesaw State University’s inaugural football game on Thursday night when nearly three years of emotional build-up finally had the chance for release.

Fresh off their decisive 56-16 victory over East Tennessee State University, the Kennesaw State players were bursting with energy as they started toward the locker room. That’s when head coach Brian Bohannon pointed toward a corner of the visitors’ stands, where the more than 500 Owls football fans who had made the trip to Johnson City, Tenn., were celebrating the win.

Without missing a beat, the entire team started sprinting down the field, gathering to sing the KSU Fight Song for the Owl faithful and sharing in the unbridled joy of a fledgling football program starting its first season with a victory. And with timing that could not be any more apt, a fireworks display pre-planned by ETSU started going off, setting a perfect backdrop for Kennesaw State’s moment.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said Bohannon of the first game and the win. “The work these kids have put in, and this staff has put in, over the last two and a half years for me and some others and for them to come out and have a positive night that we can build on – hugging each one of them after the game – that's what it's about.”

The Owls fans, both in attendance and watching the game online, were treated to some exciting moments on both sides of the ball, as the offense started rolling toward the end of the first half, and the defense kept the Buccaneers at bay, despite a few opening night jitters early in the game.

It was a night of many “firsts” for KSU, as the team had the opportunity to put months of practice into an actual game. Quarterback Trey White scored Kennesaw State’s first touchdown, a 6-yard run late in the first quarter, capping off the Owls’ first offensive possession. The first interception came near the end of the first half, when defensive lineman Nick Perrotta returned a 19-yard pick into the end zone. The first touchdown reception belonged to wide receiver Justin Sumpter, who scored on a 69-yard pass from White to start the third quarter.

Overall, seven different Kennesaw State players put the ball in the end zone for what would be the team’s first rout.

“They fought and fought,” Bohannon said. “We talked at halftime; coming out we were going to finish things off. They did a great job of that. I’m extremely proud of them and our staff as well.”

Bohannon himself received his first game ball, which Kennesaw State President Daniel S. Papp presented to him in the locker room after the win.

The game was a culmination of years of preparation, which began in early 2013 when the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia approved a football program for Kennesaw State. Since then, Bohannon and his coaching staff have been preparing the young players with multiple practices and intra-squad scrimmages. But nothing compared with the real thing, which gave the Owls the opportunity to see another young team in action.

“The way things finished, and to see their faces after all they've done, it just couldn't end any better,” Bohannon said.


– Scott Wiltsee


Kennesaw State University launches new commercial on eve of first football game

Sturgis, Kennesaw State University live mascot

School’s first live owl mascot, Sturgis, stars in the spot

Click here to watch the new Kennesaw State University commercial. 

KENNESAW, Ga.  (Sept. 2, 2015) — Sturgis – Kennesaw State’s first live owl mascot – stars in the University’s new commercial scheduled for its first broadcast airing on Thursday, Sept. 3, during the telecast of the University’s inaugural football game against the Buccaneers of East Tennessee State University, in Johnson City, Tenn.

The 30-second spot, which was fully produced in-house by University staff, will air during the game’s broadcast on the SoCon Digital Network. Kickoff for the game begins at 7:30 p.m. EDT.

“Sturgis is a powerful and popular symbol of Kennesaw State and of the more than 33,000 students who attend our great university,” said Arlethia Perry-Johnson, the institution’s vice president of strategic communications and marketing. “So we found it quite fitting to feature visually commanding images of our majestic mascot to present our institution to our broadcast audience. The owl exemplifies wisdom and intellect – and so do our students.”

The commercial highlights the school’s Black and Gold colors, which are evident in the two-year-old Eurasian eagle owl’s plumage, by carefully controlling the lighting, which was soft and diffused to create the ambience of an owl’s habitat. A Red Scarlet Dragon digital cinema camera was used to record the footage, which allowed the cinematographer/director to capture small, precise movements by Sturgis as his off-stage handler directed his attention for certain shots.

KSU’s Athletics Department manages all of Sturgis’s visits to the University. The owl was named as the school’s first live mascot in October 2013, in honor of the University’s first president, Horace Sturgis.

Members of Kennesaw State’s Strategic Communications and Marketing, University Information Technology Services, and Athletics Marketing staff collaborated to produce the spot – developing the concept, writing the script, and handling the production and post-production. A freshman student, Eric Ramos, composed the music for the spot. The College of the Arts Onyx Theatre on the Kennesaw Campus served as the set for the filming.

“This is an excellent example of Kennesaw State colleagues working together to produce a beautiful spot in which the campus community can take great pride,” said Perry-Johnson.  

The airing of the commercial comes at an exciting time for students of Kennesaw State, which completed a successful consolidation with Southern Polytechnic State University this summer. Plans are for the spot to be played throughout the football season and the current academic year.

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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 33,000 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 ranked in top five of nation’s best collegiate dining

The Commons

The Daily Meal awards No. 4 ranking to KSU Culinary and Hospitality Services

KENNESAW, Ga.  (Aug. 27, 2015) — Kennesaw State University was ranked fourth among the “75 Best Colleges for Food in America” by The Daily Meal, a New York-based culinary publication. This is the fourth year Kennesaw State’s Culinary and Hospitality Services has earned a top-five spot in the rankings.

In creating its rankings, The Daily Meal took note of some of Kennesaw State’s new culinary innovations. The addition of tableside dining, including a dim sum cart and steak tartar, have added to the already notable dining events and specialty menu items for which Kennesaw State has become well-known.

Sustainability initiatives, including the farm-to-campus program and the certification of the dining facilities on the Kennesaw and Marietta campuses, support the school’s top five position. Likewise, hydroponic-growing stations located in the dining facilities allow KSU to cultivate nutritious herbs like basil locally.

This recognition is the latest accolade for Kennesaw State’s Culinary and Hospitality Services. Executive Director and Chef de Cuisine Gary Coltek was recently awarded the David H. Lord Award for Exemplary Community Service by the National Association of College Auxiliary Services.

Kennesaw State’s Culinary and Hospitality Services provides meals to more than 30,000 guests weekly between the two campuses.

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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. 




School of Communication & Media designated at Kennesaw State

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25-year-old program prepares for next phase of development

KENNESAW, Ga. (August 27, 2015) — The former Department of Communication at Kennesaw State University has been renamed the School of Communication & Media to better position the 25-year-old program to serve more than 1,000 students each semester and pursue national accreditation. 

President Daniel S. Papp announced the School’s new status at the official Opening of the University last week, noting the unique opportunity for growth in one of the University’s most popular academic programs, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.

“The new name will enhance opportunities for external fund-raising and respond more effectively and efficiently to student needs,” Papp said. “The School already graduates more students than any other communications program in the state except the University of Georgia’s. We see the potential for even more explosive growth.”

More than 1,500 students are enrolled in the School’s two undergraduate majors in communication and public relations, the master’s program in integrated global communication and an online graduate certificate in digital and social media.  Communication ranks among the University’s top three academic programs in enrollment.

To meet the demands of growth, the School of Communication & Media will seek external funding and other resources. It also will pursue national accreditation through the Accrediting Council for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (ACEJMC), a credential held by only two other state institutions — University of Georgia and Savannah State University.   

“It is exciting to look ahead to what a School of Communication & Media can accomplish,” said Robin Dorff, dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, which houses the new School. “We look forward to creating a program of national significance as we foster an environment that supports innovative teaching, research and faculty development.”

In the transition to the new school structure, administrators and faculty members anticipate changes and enhancements to the program.

“We are looking ahead to new trends, new technologies and new opportunities in the broad fields of communication and media,” said Barbara Gainey, director of the School of Communication & Media.  “We plan to work with our faculty, staff, students and business partners to equip students to be leaders in the evolving communication workplace.”

Gainey also noted the School’s desire to develop its leadership in engaging with the professional community, including student internships; in global learning for graduate and undergraduate students; and in technology in the classrooms, digital media labs and studio facilities.

“Our goal is to prepare students with the communication knowledge, skills and experiences they need to make an instant impact in the workplace and their communities,” she said. 

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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. 

Kennesaw State’s Engineering Technology degree programs earn national reaccreditation


ABET gives nod to University’s engineering technology degree programs

MARIETTA, Ga.  (Aug. 27, 2015) — Kennesaw State University’s Southern Polytechnic College of Engineering and Engineering Technology again received reaccreditation of its six engineering technology degree programs from the Engineering Technology Accreditation Commission of ABET, the accrediting body for college and university undergraduate and graduate degree programs in applied science, computing, engineering and engineering technology.

Kennesaw State’s six reaccredited engineering technology programs include civil engineering technology, computer engineering technology, electrical engineering technology, industrial engineering technology, mechanical engineering technology and telecommunications engineering technology.

“The reaccreditation of our engineering technology degree programs indicates the strength of our academic offerings, some of which have been accredited since 1973, when the first engineering technology degree programs were offered at the University,” said Thomas Currin, dean of the College.

To date, 18 academic programs at Kennesaw State are currently accredited by ABET, including 12 engineering and engineering technology degree programs housed within the College. 

To earn this reaccreditation, the College had to undergo ABET’s rigorous review process during the 2014-15 academic year. As part of the evaluation, the commission used detailed criteria to analyze everything from student performance and outcomes, to curriculum requirements and program educational objectives, to faculty competency and facilities.

“During the height of consolidation, the ABET accreditation team made an on-site visit, and we provided evidence that our programs have maintained their high academic quality. Earning this reaccreditation during one of the most significant changes in the University’s history is a great achievement,” Currin said. “It also provides the external validation that affirms we are doing what is necessary to support our students and programs in the engineering college.”

Reaccreditation focuses on the continuous improvement of academic programs in higher education institutions, and is designed to advance and assure the quality of professional education.

For Kennesaw State’s engineering and engineering technology undergraduates, ABET accreditation validates that the College’s academic programs will help them prepare to enter critical fields, meet global technical education standards, gain licensure or certification in their professions, and be successful in graduate studies.

The reaccreditation of the engineering technology programs comes on the heels of the Southern Polytechnic College of Engineering and Engineering Technology being named eighth in the nation among all engineering colleges as a best value for its return on investment (ROI) by salary information company, PayScale.

As the second-largest engineering college in Georgia, Kennesaw State’s Southern Polytechnic College of Engineering and Engineering Technology offers 21 bachelor’s and master’s degree programs, covering disciplines such as supply chain logistics and quality assurance, as well as electrical, mechanical, civil, construction, computer and mechatronics engineering.

About ABET

ABET is a not-for-profit organization, owned and operated by more than 30 professional and technical member societies. An internationally respected organization with some 2,000 volunteers, ABET has set the higher-educational standards in its fields for nearly 80 years. More information about ABET, its member societies, and the evaluation criteria used to accredit programs can be found at



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. 






Newly consolidated Kennesaw State University opens for business

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President Daniel S. Papp addresses first joint meeting of full faculty and staff
KENNESAW, Ga. (Aug. 19, 2015) — Last Thursday, August 13, Kennesaw State University (KSU) President Daniel S. Papp in his “Opening of the University” address praised the faculty and staff of the newly consolidated university for their successful work in creating a single “New U” out of what had been two institutions, Kennesaw State and Southern Polytechnic State University. 
Papp’s “Opening of School” address, the official opening of 2015-16 academic year for KSU, came just four days before over 33,000 students began fall semester at the consolidated “New U,” one of the 50 largest public institutions of higher education in the country. 
According to Papp, the newly-consolidated university was already fulfilling the vision that the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia had when it announced 21 months ago that the two universities would consolidate. Papp clearly documented that the University is on the right course to a bright future, but at the same time he assured the 1,100 faculty and staff members who attended the address that much work remains to be done.
During his remarks, Papp outlined the responsibilities, opportunities and challenges of being one of four USG institutions designated by the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia as a comprehensive university.
“It’s important to understand what it means to be a comprehensive university and what it does not mean, and especially what it means to the consolidated KSU,” Papp said. “It is vitally important that we are all on the same page — that we understand what the Regents expect of us.”
Papp outlined four key components of the BOR’s definition of a comprehensive university — concentrating on undergraduate and master’s-level programs, maintaining a core focus on teaching, emphasizing basic and applied research, and committing to becoming a world-class institution.
“KSU will focus on undergraduate and master’s degrees, while at the same time, in measured ways, adding doctoral and Ph.D. programs at both the Kennesaw and Marietta campuses,” he said. “This is exactly what we have been doing and what we will continue to do.”
Papp noted that today, Kennesaw State offers 99 bachelor’s degrees, 44 master’s degrees and 12 doctoral programs. The doctoral degrees include:
  • Eight doctorates in education;
  • Two professional doctorates – one in nursing and one in business; and
  • Two Ph.D.s – one in international conflict management and one in data analytics.
Papp also emphasized that Kennesaw State and Southern Polytechnic each had “well-deserved reputations as excellent teaching and educational institutions” and cited that the newly consolidated Kennesaw State will maintain that same standard while adding a new emphasis on basic and applied research.
He specifically underscored the impressive growth Kennesaw State has demonstrated in external research and service funding. In FY 2002, the University received $2 million in external research and service funding. By FY 2014, that figure had grown fives times over to $11 million, an increase of 550 percent.
According to Papp, the final component of serving as a comprehensive university – as outlined by the BOR – is a commitment to becoming a world-class institution in undergraduate, graduate, and continuing and professional education; in service to the communities and professions of which it belongs; and in research, scholarship and creative activity.
“This is an ambitious objective for the New U,” said Papp. “But this is what the Regents expects of us, and what we must expect of ourselves as well: to be a world-class institution.”
During his remarks, Papp also outlined the final steps that remain in the consolidation process.
Most notably, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) will send a seven-person Substantive Change Visiting Team to campus from Sept. 1 to Sept. 3. The team will visit both the Marietta and Kennesaw campuses to determine the extent to which the consolidated University complies with the SACSCOC Principles of Accreditation.
“Most members of the Substantive Change Visiting Team are from major research universities: Texas A&M, Florida State, Texas Tech, the University of Tennessee and North Carolina State,” said Papp. “SACSCOC obviously will hold us to high standards.”
Papp said the work of the newest edition of the President’s Planning and Budget Advisory Committee (PPBAC), Strategic Thinking and Planning Committee (STPC) and Facilities Master Planning Task Force (FMPTF) — all of which will get underway in the new academic year — also will be crucial for the future of the University.
The PPBAC will be instrumental in advising the Cabinet and President Papp on where and how to spend the nearly $5 million in savings from duplicative administrative and back office functions that resulted from the consolidation.
According to Papp, most fiscal year 2016 funds available for redirection will be spent on one-time needs and capital improvements like new signage, IT upgrades, new roofs, and building and laboratory renovations. Much of that work is already underway or completed, especially on the Marietta campus. In fiscal year 2017 and beyond, however, those funds will be redirected to areas that directly impact students.
“The largest percentage of funds available to be redirected as a result of consolidation will be devoted to instruction, education support and research,” said Papp.
In closing, Papp reflected on the opportunities the consolidation provides in charting the future course of the University.
“As a consolidated university, we can look at what we do and ask, ‘Is this needed, and if so, is there a better way to do it?’ If the answer is ‘yes,’ most of the time, we can then do it.”
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.

National Institutes of Health awards Kennesaw State University $1 million grant


Grant will fund research program to increase diversity in biomedical sciences

KENNESAW, Ga.  (Aug. 18, 2015) — The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded Kennesaw State University’s College of Science and Mathematics a five-year, $1.018 million grant to increase the number of doctorate-holding scientists from underrepresented groups.

The NIH award recognizes the strength of Kennesaw State’s biomedical research programs and its commitment to building diversity in the nation’s biomedical research workforce. Serving as the lead institution, Kennesaw State’s College of Science and Mathematics will work with partner institutions Georgia Institute of Technology, Georgia Regents University and the University of Georgia to educate and train Ph.D.-level scientists.

The grant is designed to annually recruit college graduates who want to further their science education, eventually obtaining a doctorate degree. Participants will pursue master’s degrees in Integrative Biology or Chemical Sciences, learning modern research techniques using cutting-edge instrumentation such as optical biosensors, next generation sequencing and confocal microscopy in Kennesaw State’s 73,000-square-foot Science Laboratory building.

As part of their individual development plans, participants will also prepare for and, upon completion of their studies, bridge to biomedical doctoral programs.

“Kennesaw State’s programs are small and flexible enough to execute highly individualized training in an array of disciplines from synthetic chemistry to developmental biology and in interdisciplinary endeavors that may take participants from high performance computing to microliter-scale calorimetry,” said Mark Anderson, dean of the College of Science and Mathematics.

The NIH selected Kennesaw State in part because it already has multiple NIH-funded researchers who will contribute to the students’ diverse mentoring and learning opportunities.

“With multiple externally funded researchers and a new research facility, Kennesaw State’s master’s programs in Integrative Biology (MSIB) and Chemical Sciences (MSCB) offer highly individualized, flexible and unique training and mentoring environments,” Anderson said.

Anderson said Associate Dean for Research and Associate Professor Jonathan McMurry will direct the program, which will draw other professors and mentors from Kennesaw State’s Departments of Molecular and Cellular Biology, as well as Chemistry and Biochemistry.

“Our goal is to recruit participants from historically black colleges and universities and Appalachian-serving institutions that are not yet well integrated into NIH research enterprises as well as from other sources such as the Peach State LSAMP consortium and other primarily undergraduate institutions throughout the Southeast,” McMurry said.

Initial recruiting efforts drew applicants from around the state and across the nation. The first class of five students starts this week. Among the participants are a Gates Foundation Scholar, a McNair Scholar and a student body president. Their research interests range from neuroscience to human genetics to virology.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Research reported in this news release was supported by the National Institute Of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R25GM111565. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, 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. 



Former congressman Bob Barr returns to Kennesaw State

Former Congressman Bob Barr

Constitutional advocate to teach course on the Constitution and public policy

KENNESAW, Ga. (Aug. 10, 2015) — When fall classes begin at Kennesaw State University on Aug. 17, a select group of students will study the U.S. Constitution and its application to current public policies with one of the nation’s top constitutional advocates — veteran lawmaker Bob Barr, who served four terms in the U. S. House of Representatives.

Barr, who represented Georgia’s 7th District from 1995 to 2003, joins Kennesaw State’s faculty as a part-time assistant professor teaching an undergraduate special topics course titled “The Constitution and Public Policy.” He previously taught courses on privacy and public policy at the University in 2008, 2009 and 2013.

"I have known Bob Barr for many years, and am pleased that he is returning to teach at Kennesaw State,” said University President Daniel S. Papp.  “Our students will benefit from his expertise, his experience, and his perspectives."

According to Kerwin Swint, professor and chair of Kennesaw State’s Department of Political Science and International Affairs, Barr will teach an upper level political science course that will examine the Constitution from a historical standpoint, and then apply that analysis to contemporary public policies in a variety of areas, including property rights, health care, Second Amendment and national security. 

“We look forward to Congressman Barr's contribution to our students and our program," Swint said.

Barr, who now practices law in Atlanta, is chairman of Liberty Guard, Inc. a nonprofit and non-partisan organization dedicated to protecting individual liberty.He also heads Liberty Strategies, Inc., an Atlanta-based public policy consulting firm. In addition to serving as an adjunct professor at Kennesaw State, he has taught constitutional law at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School. He also serves on the board of advisors for law reviews at Georgetown University Law Center — his law school alma mater — and the University of Texas School of Law.

During his tenure in Congress‚ Barr was a senior member of the Judiciary Committee‚ vice-chairman of the Government Reform Committee and a member of the Committee on Financial Services.

Once referred to as “Mr. Privacy” by former New York Times columnist William Safire, Barr occupied the 21st Century Liberties Chair for Freedom and Privacy at the American Conservative Union from 2003 to 2008, and served as a member of a project at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government addressing matters of privacy and security from 2003 to 2005. He is a member of The Constitution Project’s Initiative on Liberty and Security and a board member for Privacy International, a watchdog group headquartered in London. He was the Libertarian Party nominee for president in 2008.

A frequent guest on network and cable news programs and a periodic columnist, Barr is the author of three books: “The Meaning of Is: The Squandered Impeachment and Wasted Legacy of William Jefferson Clinton,” “Patriot Nation: Bob Barr’s Laws of the Universe Volume One,” and “Bob Barr’s Lessons in Liberty.” 

"I am delighted to be returning to teach 'Constitution and Public Policy' at KSU,” Barr said. “The high caliber of students, and the energy and excitement that prevails on the campus is truly invigorating.”  

Barr, whose appointment is for the fall semester, will have an option to return for the spring semester if he desires.  He will maintain an office in the political science department, which is housed in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.


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 professor Jeff Stepakoff to lead new Georgia Film Academy

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Veteran screen writer is first executive director of joint high-demand career initiative 

ALANTA, Ga. (Aug. 4, 2015) — University System of Georgia (USG) Chancellor Hank Huckaby and Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) Commissioner Gretchen Corbin today announced the appointment of Jeffrey Stepakoff as the executive director of the Georgia Film Academy.

The concept and rationale for the Georgia Film Academy was identified through Governor Nathan Deal’s High Demand Career Initiative (HDCI) which was launched in January 2014 by Deal and led by Commissioner Chris Carr and the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) to address Georgia’s important workforce needs. The HDCI focuses on the future needs of strategic industries in Georgia, including film, television and interactive entertainment.

Stepakoff most recently served as co-executive producer of Chasing Life for the ABC Family television network. He is also a tenured professor of film and television writing at Kennesaw State University.

“Jeff brings unique and proven experience in the film and television industry and higher education to lead the Georgia Film Academy on behalf of the USG and TCSG,” said Huckaby. “Jeff’s substantial background and insights will help us continue to anticipate the needs and trends of the film, television and digital entertainment industry and better prepare more Georgians to support this critical workforce.”

“With the entertainment industry generating new jobs, new businesses and a $6 billion impact in Georgia, it’s more important than ever that we continue to anticipate its workforce needs,” said Corbin. “Jeff understands the entertainment environment as well as the workforce development necessary to keep Georgia at the forefront of this very strategic industry.”

As the founding director of the Georgia Film Academy, Stepakoff will lead efforts to coordinate programs, curriculum and special learning experiences for students enrolled in the state’s university and technical college systems. The academy will be a virtual institution with the ability to operate where needs and opportunities exist across the state.

“I am very excited to help Georgians get the education and professional training they need to go to work in the flourishing film, television and digital entertainment industry here in our state,” said Stepakoff. “And I look forward to helping us build a sustainable and permanent industry – one that includes the full range of the business, from development to production to post-production, and everything related.”

Stepakoff has an extensive background in the film and television industry. He has 28 years of experience in writing, producing and content creation. Some of his television work includes: The Wonder Years, Sisters, Flipper, Major Dad, Beauty & the Beast and Dawson’s Creek, which he co-executive produced. He has also developed pilots for major studios and networks, such as 20th Century Fox, Paramount, FOX and ABC, working with producers and production companies such as Alloy Entertainment (Gossip Girl, The Vampire Diaries), Michael Pillar (Star Trek: Voyager, Deep Space Nine) and David Milch (Deadwood, NYPD Blue). His major motion picture work includes Disney’s Brother Bear, Tarzan and EM Entertainment’s Lapitch. He has also worked in research and digital art for entertainment companies, has written popular video games and is a bestselling novelist.

Stepakoff earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Journalism and Mass Communication and a Master of Fine Arts in playwriting from Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania).

He lives in East Cobb County with his wife, model and actor Elizabeth Miller, and their three children.

The Georgia Film Academy is a collaborative effort of the USG and TCSG supporting workforce needs of Georgia’s burgeoning film and digital entertainment industries. The academy will certify workforce ready employees in needed areas, connect students and prospective employees with employers, and offer a unique capstone experience for top students that will provide them a path to employment in Georgia and to remain in the state.



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