Kennesaw State University

Construction approved for Georgia Film Academy in Fayetteville

Name of Publication: 
The Citizen
Excerpt of Article: 

Wed, 11/25/2015 - 2:00pm Ben Nelms

A new Georgia Film Academy in Fayetteville is set to open in January. Following in February will be the completion of a 15,000 sq. ft. soundstage for student use to be located adjacent to the Pinewood Production Centre on Sandy Creek Road. Nov. 17 by the Fayetteville Planning and Zoning Commission, architect Bill Foley said plans include having the 15,000 sq. ft. soundstage building ready in February. The soundstage will have an elevation of 47 feet, though it will not be visible from Sandy Creek Road and will not be seen from nearby Veterans Parkway, Foley said. Other plans include additional landscaping and the ability to convert the production centre area from septic to city sewer when needed, said Foley. ...

The new film academy will open its doors in January and, according to its Executive Director Jeff Stepakoff, the intent is to offer for-credit courses in conjunction with the University System of Georgia (USG) and the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) along with continuing education course work.

“There is tremendous support and interest in the film academy,” said Stepakoff, a professor of film and television writing at Kennesaw State University who has been involved in producing, writing and content creation for both television and motion pictures.

Stepakoff said industry partners, such as Pinewood Atlanta, are integral to the film academy’s goals and intent.

“We’re very excited about the potential,” Stepakoff said. “We’re excited about putting Georgians to work on soundstages and on the set.”

Thurman: ‘I’m not the black mayor; I’m the mayor’

Name of Publication: 
The Marietta Daily Journal
Excerpt of Article: 
by Kimeko McCoy
December 03, 2015 12:01 AM

POWDER SPRINGS — After spending a portion of Wednesday morning removing “Vote Al Thurman” signs from yards across the city, the next mayor of Powder Springs said he’s still trying to grasp the implications of his victory. 

“It’s taking me a minute to get my arms around it,” said Thurman, who previously served 13 years on the Powder Springs City Council. “My phone has been blowing up with support from all over the country.”

The 58-year-old business owner won Tuesday’s runoff with 57 percent of the votes against councilman and family physician Chris Wizner, who had 43 percent of the total 1,237 votes, according to unofficial numbers from the Cobb Board of Elections. ...

Thurman will be the first black mayor of a Cobb County city. While he embraces that distinction, Thurman said it’s not his main focus and he hopes his service to the community will surpass the color barrier.

“I’m not the black mayor. I’m the mayor. I’m here to serve everyone,” Thurman said. “The demographics are changing and this is a clear reflection of this change.”

Kerwin Swint, a political science professor at Kennesaw State University, also cited the area’s changing demographics regarding Thurman’s win. 

Powder Springs’ population, as reported by the 2010 U.S. Census, is 38 percent white (using the Census designation “white alone, not Hispanic or Latino”) and 49 percent black.

“It shows it’s part of a trend in county politics as the southern part of the county becomes more diverse,” Swint said. ...


Anatomy of Engagement

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From left, Alice Fazlollah and students Michael McClung and Chelsy Schrock

Anthropology project helps law officers understand impact of bomb explosions

KENNESAW, Ga. (Nov. 25, 2015) — Days after tragedy struck in Paris, France, the threat posed by terrorists who kill and maim by shooting and detonating explosives added urgency to research underway in a forensic anthropology lab at Kennesaw State University. 

Comparing Notes

PEGS students Regan Grillo and Lisa Smith

Student symposium showcases US-Brazilian cooperation, cultural differences

KENNESAW, Ga. (Nov. 20, 2015) — Kennesaw State University students joined their peers from universities across Georgia and Brazil this month to present the results of research projects highlighting global trends and challenges in Brazil and the greater Portuguese-speaking world.

Acts of Faith

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Kennesaw student defies odds to open Montessori school

KENNESAW, Ga. (Nov. 19, 2015) —  The story of a Kennesaw State international student-turned-entrepreneur can be summed up in her name: Faith.

From the moment in April 2013 that Faith Wangunyu, a senior international affairs major, entered a Montessori classroom while on a tour with her leadership class, she envisioned herself running such a school, perhaps in her native Kenya.

Quinoa Festival Brings Tastes of Peru to Kennesaw

Country’s most celebrated chef and revered ancient grain showcased

KENNESAW, Ga. (Nov. 10, 2015) A Quinoa Festival Nov. 5 at Kennesaw State’s Commons dining facility provided Peruvian Master Chef Flavio Solórzano the perfect stage to demonstrate why he has achieved rock-star status and share his passion for preparing authentic regional dishes, especially those made with the 5,000-year-old Andean quinoa grain.

Organized by the University’s Division of Global Affairs and the Consul General of Peru, and sponsored by Delta Airlines and Global Atlanta, the festival drew an international audience, including members of the Atlanta-based diplomatic corps, with consuls general representing Argentina, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nigeria. The event was the latest in a series of partnerships between Kennesaw State and the Peruvian consulate that began during the University’s Year of Peru in 2011-2012.

Even with the unprecedented diplomatic representation, an overflow audience of some 300 enthusiastic students and community guests, Solórzano was the event’s center of gravity.

In Peru, the chef hosts a popular television cooking show, is head chef at his popular, upscale El Señorío de Sulco restaurant in Lima, and is one of the founders of Mistura, the largest food festival in Latin America. He also creates entrees served to first-class passengers aboard various airlines.

For Kennesaw State’s Quinoa Festival, Solórzano partnered with The Commons’ chefs to create Peruvian dishes featuring quinoa, a grain cultivated in the Andes Mountains that has become a staple in vegetarian cooking around the globe. A tasting served at The Commons’ Globetrotter international cuisine counter during lunch hours featured his quinoa burgers and quinoa topped with cheese. That was followed buy a two-hour public show, during which Solórzano demonstrated his mastery while preparing a full-course menu.  

“There are over 3,000 varieties of quinoa in Peru,” Solórzano explained, holding aloft a book titled “Ayara: Madre Quinoa” that he wrote in 2013 to hail the virtues and varieties of the grain. He has searched throughout the country to uncover types of quinoa and the many ways local people use it in everyday cooking. “When I first started studying quinoa, 98 percent of the pages I found were in English and only 2 percent were in Spanish. Even though we domesticated it [over five centuries ago], only now are we trying to recover the cuisine around quinoa.”

But he didn’t come to lecture, Solórzano assured. The proof, he said, would be in the tasting. 

In the first step in the chef’s preparation of ceviche de quinoa caliente — the first of the four recipes he demonstrated — the aroma of caramelizing onions, garlic, chili peppers and other spices wafted through the demonstration area. In the 20 minutes it took to complete the dish, Solórzano, with the help of assistants, chopped and diced the onions, tomatoes and rocoto peppers that would be cooked with spices, salt, oil and lime juice to create chalaca, a perfect topping for his signature dish.

The chef also described his exhaustive search for a native, plant-based food to make milk for his dessert — a rich quinoa cake made of black quinoa, cacao, vanilla, brown sugar, oil, butter, baking powder, salt and eggs. 

Most Peruvians today cook with cow’s milk, said Solórzano, who strives to create food that is as authentically Peruvian as possible. He explained that cows were not indigenous to Peru, but were brought in by the Spanish. Near the base of Peru’s Lake Titicaca, he found a white, almost translucent quinoa, which he ground, blended at high speed with hot water and coconut oil and strained to make a creamy, white milk whose texture and character when cooked is very similar to cow’s milk.

For his finale, Solórzano demonstrated his only non-quinoa dish, lomo saltado (salted beef), an homage to the Oriental influence prevalent in the cuisines of Peru, which has become increasingly known for its food culture.

This year, three Peruvian restaurants made it to William Reed Business Media’s The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. Peru’s Consul General Miguel Alemán-Urteaga says Solórzano was chosen to headline the Quinoa Festival because of his role in Peru’s recent “gastronomic revolution.”

“Quinoa is the best example of Peruvian cuisine,” said Alemán-Urteaga, one of the festival’s chief architects. “It has a legacy of introducing Peruvians to the world. The importance of quinoa was acknowledged by the United Nations when it declared 2013 as the ‘International Year of Quinoa.’”

Lissette Davila, a Peruvian native who studied at Kennesaw State as an undergrad before earning her executive MBA in 2012, agrees. She said it was exciting to see her home country gaining recognition for one of its most unique contributions to culinary culture.

“In Peru, our food is one of our most important assets we have as a country,” she said. “To be able to educate the world about our cuisine is very important. It’s one of our top tourist attractions.”

Daniel Paracka, Kennesaw State’s director of campus internationalization and a festival organizer, said the event was designed to be an entertaining, interactive way to get students and other guests to engage with another culture.

“We are working at Kennesaw State to make sure that all students appreciate and understand the global context that we live in today,” he said.

For Ian Resic, a first-year student who hopes to major in international affairs, it was all about the food. He said he decided to stay for the demonstration after tasting Solórzano's quinoa burgers.

“It was very good,” said Resic. “I never thought I’d like a burger made with anything other than beef. I heard somebody say he would be cooking more food, so I went to class and came back.  It was so worth it.”

Solórzano said his experience at Kennesaw State’s Quinoa Festival was “a highlight of my career.”

He added: “Cooking and teaching others how to cook in a respectful and environmentally friendly manner is what I do for a living. I am very impressed by what I have experienced at KSU; it’s one of the best universities I have been to in all my travels. The students are enthusiastic about their courses, which aim to connect food preparation to culture. Teaching them about quinoa and other Peruvian staples and sharing cooking techniques with them was a joy.”

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 —Sabbaye McGriff and Patrick Harbin

Photo by David Caselli



Low voter turnout in Cobb's Tuesday election follows trend and Campaign disclosure reports reveal funding gaps for Cobb municipal candidates

Name of Publication: 
The Marietta Daily Journal
Excerpt of Article: 
by Ricky Leroux
November 05, 2015 12:00 AM
MARIETTA — Voter turnout in Austell, Kennesaw, Powder Springs and Smyrna for Tuesday’s elections was low — about 18 percent of registered voters cast ballots — but Cobb’s Board of Elections director said this is a typical for a municipal election.
“Anything in that 17 to 22 (percent) range is about what we usually see,” said Janine Eveler, Cobb elections director. “For some reason, people just don’t come out for the local elections like they do for the national ones. … It’s funny because they have so much more influence on your life at the local level. But it’s not as exciting? I don’t know.”
In 2012, when there was a presidential race on the ballot, about 74 percent of registered voters in those same four cities went to the polls.
Kerwin Swint, professor of political science at Kennesaw State University, was not surprised by the turnout numbers.
“That’s why they call them off-year elections,” Swint said. “Interest is way down. The local candidates don’t have nearly the advertising budgets to do radio spots, TV spots. It’s not on people’s radar near as much as when you have the excitement and all the media coverage of a presidential or even gubernatorial campaign.” ...



November 03, 2015 12:15 AM

MARIETTA — A look at the campaign disclosure reports for candidates taking part in today’s city elections reveal some discrepancies in the fundraising among candidates.

However, money isn’t everything in local elections, according to Kerwin Swint, political science professor at Kennesaw State University.

“At this level, money’s not as important as it would be for, say, a statewide or congressional race,” Swint said.

Money can give candidates an edge when it comes to purchasing yard signs and mailers or having candidate meet-and-greets, Swint said, but fundraising advantages don’t always result in winning.

“If you’re able to raise more money, then you’re better able to afford all those things that are going to get you voter contact,” Swint said. “You can have radio spots or mailed brochures. You are better able to position yourself, but the caveat there is it’s not always the person that wins. In local elections, sometimes a candidate that is less funded but they have a better turnout mechanism or they have something else working in their favor can win.”

Bigger factors in local races are name recognition, reputation among voters and getting out the vote, Swint said. ...

Iraj Omidvar

Iraj Omidvar

Kennesaw State professor’s views on revolutions in Iran and Tunisia get wide airing

KENNESAW, Ga. (Nov. 5, 2015) — Iraj Omidvar, a Kennesaw State associate professor of English and former Fulbright Teaching Fellow in Tunisia, was a teenager in 1979 when the Shah of Iran was deposed in the midst of a revolution. To escape the danger and uncertainties in Iran, his family sent him to Germany, and he eventually made his way to the U.S. to live with a sister who was already studying in Iowa.

Kennesaw State among top 100 institutions conferring undergraduate degrees to minorities

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Fifteen KSU programs also among top 50 in degrees conferred to minorities by discipline

KENNESAW, Ga.  (Oct. 13, 2015) Kennesaw State University continues to rank among the nation’s top producers of minority students earning undergraduate degrees, according to a special report published last week by Diverse: Issues in Higher Education. This is the fifth consecutive year Kennesaw State was included in the publication’s rankings.

The national magazine’s annual “Top 100 Undergraduate Degree Producers” report recognized Kennesaw State as a top producer of undergraduate degrees conferred to African-American students. KSU also was recognized as a leading institution for African-American students graduating in sixcategories and ranked among the top institutions for all minorities majoring in education.

“Kennesaw State’s consistent inclusion in this national ranking reflects the University’s long-term commitment to campus diversity,” said W. Ken Harmon, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. “Diversity and inclusion, in all their forms, are important tenets of our institution, which we strive to see embraced and valued by every member of our community.”

 Diverse: Issues in Higher Education’s list of top 100 degree producers showcases U.S. colleges’ and universities’ success in awarding degrees to African-American, Hispanic, Asian-American, Native-American and multiracial students. In determining its rankings, Diverse uses the most recent enrollment data from the U.S. Department of Education as submitted by each institution.

In fall 2014, minority students accounted for about 35 percent of Kennesaw State’s more than 25,700 undergraduate and graduate students. African-American students represent 19 percent (4,931), Hispanic students account for 7.6 percent (1,962) and Asian-American students comprise 4.2 percent (1,080) of KSU’s total student population. Nearly 4 percent (1,027) classify themselves as multiracial.

Kennesaw State ranked among the highest producers of graduates in specific disciplines and racial categories, including education degrees for all minorities, those who self-identified as two or more races, and African-Americans. The University also ranked highest for producing African-American graduates in computer and information sciences, finance and financial management, accounting and related services, and communication, journalism and related programs.

Among students identifying as two or more races, Kennesaw State ranked among the top producers of those earning degrees in education; English language, literature/letters; finance and financial management services; mathematics and statistics; and parks, recreation and fitness studies. The University also ranked among the top producers of Hispanic graduates in education and marketing.

The degree programs noted in Kennesaw State’s rankings are among the most popular at the University. During FY 2014, KSU awarded nearly 3,600 baccalaureate degrees. Of those, business, communication, education, biology, math, applied exercise and health science and computer and information sciences majors accounted for approximately 45 percent of the graduates.

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Kennesaw State University is the third-largest university in Georgia, offering nearly 150 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 over 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. 


“Marketplace of Ideas” speaker discusses consequences of microaggression

Peter Wood says minor insults and slights have chilling effect on open dialogue

The optimism of an open marketplace of ideas, where “right” opinions prevail over “wrong” ones, may be under attack in an America where simply asking where a person comes from can lead to severe consequences, author and scholar Peter Wood said during Kennesaw State University’s third “Marketplace of Ideas” on Oct. 8.

Wood, an anthropologist and former educator who now heads the National Association of Scholars, wove together themes from the title of his lecture, “Microaggression and the Angry Mob: the Consequences of Political Correctness.” Using the history of the sometime elusive search for a well-functioning marketplace of ideas as his backdrop, Wood described how Americans are behaving toward each other, why they are angry, and how political correctness is leading people away from honest, intellectual debate — a shift he says is a threat to higher education.  

Using a recent policy statement issued by the University of California, Wood defined microaggression as “the everyday verbal, nonverbal and environmental slights, snubs or insults, whether intentional or non-intentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory or negative messages to target persons based solely on their marginalized group membership.” 

Wood described a scenario where students are being agitated by the existence of microaggressions; faculty members are being charged with violations of students’ rights; and some people are losing their jobs. He cited a recent Atlantic Magazine cover story’s conclusion that students have developed such thin skins against possible slights or insults that they seek redress, demanding colleges provide someone to whom they report offenses. Many universities have obliged by creating places where students can report their grievances and be taken seriously. 

“We’re getting out of this a generation of students who are hyperalert to the possibility of an insult,” said Wood, who acknowledges that “bad manners are bad manners.” “If you are so boorish as to be going around insulting people on racial, ethnic or any other ground, then you should cure your behavior. But that’s not really where the microaggression topic takes us.”

Instead, said Wood, questions and statements like “Do you work here?” “What are you?” “Where do you come from?” “I was poor growing up and I made it”; “I understand exactly how you feel”; and “You speak English very well” are treated as microaggressions.           

“Those statements have a certain maladroitness to them, but that’s not the issue,” Wood said. “The issue is what we make of them once they’re said. Are these cases where, when a faculty member says them to a student or a student to another student, they should be at the beginning of a disciplinary case? That’s where we are right now. To be insulted is one thing. But to use that insult as a way to maneuver yourself into a position to ruin one’s career or reputation seems a bit of a stretch.”

Microaggression and what Wood called the “culture of readiness to take offense at a hair-trigger level” are leading to a combative, angry state in America. He said the anger is also rooted in the post-World War II period of national anger, which eventually gave way in the 1960s to a cultural notion that expressing anger is liberating — what social scientists called “expressive individualism.” That coincided with a breakdown in child-rearing norms that valued teaching children to control their anger.  

Wood quoted from his book, “Bee in the Mouth: Anger in America Now”:

“Our society is harmed by misdirected aggression. It escalates social divisions; it turns minor disagreements into major blowouts; it poisons personal relations; it coarsens our public life and drives the political polarization of the country. We’ve become a country of anger and resentment, one in which the expression of grievance is often an end in itself. We’ve embraced a culture of expressive anger.”   

Around the time the “anger culture” took hold, Wood said, the university’s traditional role in shaping values begin to fall out of favor — with student autonomy replacing “in loco parentis” (in place of the parent) as an institutional value. The result of that, he said, may be the reason a recent Carnegie Foundation study showed that today’s students feel a lack of community.

Noting what he said is a “dissolution of values in higher education,” Wood concluded that the marketplace of ideas will be better served by a return to the traditional role of academia — the pursuit of truth (through research and discovery); the transmission of culture and civilization; preparing the next generation for a productive life; and a responsibility for the formation of character among students.

The third “Marketplace of Ideas” lecture was hosted by the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and funded in part by the Kennesaw State University 50th Anniversary Committee and the Charles Koch Foundation.

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— Sabbaye McGriff

Photo by David Caselli

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