Saturday, October 31, 2009

2009 Great American Teacher of the Year is Named

The Ron Clark Academy, in conjunction with Great American Financial Resources, selected its first Great American Teacher of the Year – Dr. Aimée Burgamy. Burgamy is a middle school art teacher in Lilburn, GA, who serves as the lead teacher for twenty-five middle school art teachers in Gwinnett County. She is the winner of the National Art Association's Jr. National Art Honor Society Sponsor of the Year award and was recently named as her District Teacher of the Year. Burgamy received her PhD in Art Education from University of Georgia in 2009.

The hour-long awards gala, which was broadcast LIVE to millions of viewers via public access channels and web streams, was held at the W Atlanta Midtown Hotel in Atlanta, Georgia. Burgamy was one of five finalists selected by an esteemed panel of judges, who voted Friday afternoon on the winner. During her acceptance speech with some of her students by her side, Burgamy energetically expressed the importance of highly creative and effective teachers. She also encouraged those members of the audience with an interest in teaching, “to join in on the fun!”

The 2009 Great American Teacher receives a cash gift totaling $15,000 from Great American Financial Resources - $10,000 for personal use and $5,000 for his/her school, a Promethean Active classroom, a Complete Audio Enhancement System for his/her classroom, a DELL Color-Laser printer for his/her classroom and a personalized DELL Tablet PC.

Sponsors of the 2009 Great American Teacher Awards include Great American Financial Resources, Inc.; The Coca-Cola Company; Comcast Communications, Inc.; Verizon Wireless, Delta Air Lines, the preferred air line of The Ron Clark Academy; Promethean; DELL, Inc.; Audio Enhancement; Presentation Services; Associated Builders and Contractors of Georgia, Inc., Image Master Productions; and Ruth’s Chris Steak House.

Please visit to learn more about next year’s awards. To see a rebroadcast schedule of this year’s awards show, please visit the Florida Education Channel website at Comcast will also feature highlights of the program during its Red Carpet segment on CNN Headline News in early December.

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Fayette County Ranked Top Ten of Tech-Savvy School Boards

The Fayette County Public School System placed eighth in the nation among large-sized school districts in the sixth annual Digital School Districts Survey, sponsored by the Center for Digital Education, National School Boards Association and “Converge Online” magazine.

The purpose of the survey is to showcase exemplary school boards and districts’ use of technology to govern the district, communicate with students, parents and the community and to improve district operations.

"We are honored to receive this award. It is a team effort on the part of our technology department, the staff at the schools, county level and our students and parents," says Superintendent John DeCotis.

All U.S. public school boards/districts were invited to participate in the survey. Schools were placed in three categories based on size of enrollment.

The study examined and documented school boards and districts’ online presence; technology applications that allow the public to interact with school board members, administrators and teachers; as well as their access to information such as school board calendars, district policies, and technology use in the district and classrooms.

Winners reflected those school districts with the fullest implementation of technology standards in the evolution of digital education. A full list of winners can be viewed at

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Friday, October 30, 2009

Clayton State University's College of Arts and Sciences Forming Alumni Chapter

Clayton State University’s College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) is forming a new chapter of the Clayton State Alumni Association. An organizational meeting and dinner (Dutch treat) will be held on Thursday, Nov. 12 at 6:30 p.m. at The Olive Garden Restaurant, located at 1176 Mt. Zion Rd., Morrow.

“We encourage all interested alumni of Clayton State’s CAS to attend the Nov. 12 meeting and to become involved with the formation of this group. The persons who get the Association off the ground — the charter members — will have an important role in shaping the future of the Association,” says Dr. Susan Tusing, chair of the Department of Visual and Performing Arts.

Alumni will have the opportunity to meet with the Dean of CAS, Dr. Nasser Momayezi, and Director of Alumni Relations Gid Rowell.

“I am extremely excited that the CAS is working to form an alumni group. Interest in our Alumni Association is growing, and this is an example of its progression. I look forward to working with the group and in its development,” says Rowell.

“I believe we cannot adequately look forward to the future without considering, appreciating and nurturing our past. It is that history and passion that I want our alumni to pass on to our current students—through membership in an active Alumni Association, by offering time to share your professional expertise, establishing a scholarship or simply cheering in the stands at the next athletic event.,” says Momayezi.

For further information contact Tusing at or by phone at (678) 466-4750.

A unit of the University System of Georgia, Clayton State University is an outstanding comprehensive metropolitan university located 15 miles southeast of downtown Atlanta.
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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Charter Schools 'Market Share' Growing; Exceeds 20% in 14 Communities

Georgia has over 62,000 students enrolled in charter schools.

PRNewswire/ -- Public charter schools' presence in K-12 schooling continues to grow, according to the latest Top 10 Charter Communities by Market Share report by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. In fact, charters now enroll more than one in five public school students in 14 communities - including major cities like Detroit, St. Louis, and Kansas City.

Demand remains strongest in urban areas - and as a result, charter "market share" is growing rapidly in cities and adjacent suburbs, even while the overall number of students remains a modest portion of nationwide enrollment.

"Charter schools are working at scale in a growing number of American cities," according to Nelson Smith, President and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. "Chartering is becoming well-established as a key component of the public education delivery system," he added.

The report finds:
-- Charter Growth Remains Strong: There are 14 communities where more
than 20% of public school students are enrolled in charters, up from
six in 2005-06. 72 communities now have at least 10% of public school
students in charter schools, 27 more than three years ago.
-- 10 Districts Enroll 22% of Charter Students: The 10 districts with the
largest number of students in public charter schools represent 22% of
the total public charter school population nationwide, a total of
304,494 students out of roughly 1.4 million in 2008-09.
-- More than 1/3 of Public School Students in Charters in Three Cities:
Public charter school market share breaks 30% of students in Detroit
(at 32%), Washington, D.C. (36%), and New Orleans (57%).
-- New Orleans Remains at #1 in Market Share Percentage: Not only are
charters in New Orleans serving a higher percentage of public school
students - 57% - than anywhere else in the nation, they are also the
highest performing sector of public schools in the city. More
importantly, the city's public schools as a whole are outperforming
the pre-Katrina system.
-- "In a city like Washington D.C., which has the second highest market
share of charter enrollment, the number of students choosing charters
is impressive," said Anna Nicotera, Director of Research and
Evaluation for the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.
"Audited D.C. public charter school enrollment has jumped by eleven
percentage points from 25% in (2005-06) to 36% in (2008-09) and
charters there now enroll 43,035 students, which is about 25,000 more
students than four years ago."

The "Top 10" largest market share public charter school communities (including ties) are: New Orleans, LA (57%); Washington, D.C. (36%); Detroit, MI (32%); Kansas City, MO (29%); Dayton, OH (27%); Youngstown, OH (26%); St. Louis, MO (25%); Flint, MI (24%); Gary, IN (23%); Phoenix Union High School District, AZ (22%); and Minneapolis, MN (22%).

The "Top 10" communities with the greatest number of students enrolled in public charter schools are: Los Angeles, CA (59,122), Detroit, MI (43,035), Philadelphia, PA (32,579), Houston, TX (29,889), Chicago, IL (28,973), Washington, D.C. (25,729), Miami-Dade County, FL (23,865), New York City, NY (21,367), New Orleans, LA (20,068), and Broward County, FL (19,867).

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Clayton State Recognized at Golden Key International Conference

Clayton State University, Associate Dean of Students Jeff Jacobs, and Assistant Director of Orientation and New Student Programs Barbre Skwira were recently recognized by the Golden Key International Honour Society for their efforts on behalf of the University’s Golden Key chapter.

The honor came at the 2009 Golden Key International Conference in Orlando, Fla., wherein Clayton State’s chapter was recognized for having achieved good chapter standing, meaning that the University’s chapter had completed the appropriate amount of activities needed to stay active within the Society. Jacobs and Skwira are the co-advisors to the Clayton State chapter.

“The advisor(s) and student members are actively involved in promoting Golden Key’s mission of recognizing outstanding academic achievement and connecting high-achieving individuals locally, regionally and globally with lifetime opportunity, reward and success,” reads Golden Key’s letter of citation to Clayton State.

Golden Key International Honour Society is the world’s premier collegiate honor society, with nearly two million members and more than 375 chapters around the world. Golden Key was founded in 1977 by a group of undergraduate students at Georgia State University. Since its inception, Golden Key has been established as a positive force in higher education. Membership to this academic achievement organization is granted by invitation only and requires the achievement and maintenance of high academic standards. Golden Key is not only an academic achievement organization, but is also involved in community and university service, thus providing many opportunities for the members to gain valuable experience.

The Clayton State chapter was established in the fall of 2006 and was originally recognized as a “benefits only” chapter. On Feb. 17, 2008, the Clayton State chapter was officially chartered and recognized as the 358th Golden Key Chapter world-wide. Invitation to join Golden Key is only extended to the top 15 percent of the sophomore, junior and senior classes at Clayton State.

A unit of the University System of Georgia, Clayton State University is an outstanding comprehensive metropolitan university located 15 miles southeast of downtown Atlanta.
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Georgia State to offer master’s and doctorate degrees in neuroscience

The Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia has granted approval to Georgia State University to offer Doctor of Philosophy and Master of Science degrees in neuroscience.

“Through a rigorous academic curriculum and an emphasis on cutting-edge research, those graduating from Georgia State’s new Ph.D. program will add to the greater body of knowledge that will ultimately bring forth new treatments and interventions to neurological diseases and disorders that affect millions across the globe,” said Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Risa Palm.

“Georgia State has long been a national and international center for neuroscience research,” said Dean Lauren Adamson of the College of Arts and Sciences. “The creation of a Ph.D. program in neuroscience will let us take a leading role in educating the next generation of researchers.”

The program begins during the fall semester of 2010. Applications will be accepted starting in mid-November, and the deadline for applications is Jan. 5, 2010.

“The program will help to increase Georgia State’s visibility nationally and internationally in a field that is very important to both biotechnology development in the state, as well as biomedical research,” said Walter Wilczynski, professor and director of the Neuroscience Institute.

The program will also allow Georgia State to build better neuroscience collaborations with other universities in the state, such as Emory University, the University of Georgia, Georgia Tech and the Medical College of Georgia, Wilczynski said.

The program will be based in Georgia State’s Neuroscience Institute, an interdisciplinary unit within the College of Arts and Sciences, which includes faculty from biology, chemistry, psychology, physics and astronomy, computer science, mathematics and statistics, and philosophy. Additional faculty and students will be drawn to the institute from other areas such as computer information systems, and educational psychology and special education.

Officials are developing a curriculum of core courses to be added alongside GSU’s existing courses in fields such as biology and psychology. Students in the Ph.D. track will earn the M.S. degree as they complete the doctoral program. About 14 students per year are expected to graduate from the program.

Neuroscience graduate students at GSU can become active members of the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience, headquartered at Georgia State. The CBN is a multi-disciplinary community of neuroscientists across seven metro Atlanta colleges and universities, for broader educational training. As CBN members, graduate students participate in collaborative research and groups that take multi-disciplinary approaches to complex research questions.

The CBN also affords opportunities for graduate students to participate in neuroscience education efforts that range from elementary school through the graduate level.

This past spring, Georgia State partnered with Georgia Tech to establish the Center for Advanced Brain Imaging, which provides expert brain imaging facilities to support research in basic and clinical human neuroscience, including a research-dedicated functional magnetic resonance imaging scanner.

For more information about the Neuroscience Institute, visit

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Charter Schools Rally at State Capitol to Draw Close to 1,000

Event will feature students, parents, educators, politicians and other charter supporters

A crowd of nearly 1,000 students, parents, educators, politicians and others will show their support for public charter schools in Georgia at the first ever “Rally at the Capitol for Charter Schools,” Friday, Nov. 6, 10 a.m. – noon, on the steps of the Georgia State Capitol building.

Event will illustrate bi-partisan, diverse support for charter public schools

The event is coordinated by the Georgia Charter Schools Association and sponsored by Connections Academy (a virtual K-12 online school). It is designed to show the growing amount of support in Georgia for charter schools, which are seen as quality public educational options by an increasing number of parents and communities from various socioeconomic backgrounds. The charter school movement is garnering great bi-partisan support from officials across the political spectrum as well, including President Barack Obama, U.S. Education Sec. Arne Duncan, and noted Republican and conservative leader Newt Gingrich. This point will be clearly illustrated by the scheduled speakers at the rally:

· State Rep. Jan Jones (R – Alpharetta), House Minority Whip
· State Rep. Alisha Morgan (D – Austell)
· State Rep. Ed Setzler (R – Acworth)
· Black Alliance for Educational Options President Gerard Robinson
· Georgia Charter Schools Association Chief Executive Officer Tony Roberts, Ph.D

Rally a show of support, not a protest

“This is not a protest march at all. In fact it is a celebration of the positive impact that charter public schools are having on student achievement here in Georgia,” Roberts said. “This is our opportunity to come together to say that we support our current charter schools and want more charter public schools in our state.”
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Campbell School Lauded for Quality of MBA Program

The MBA program offered by Berry College’s Campbell School of Business has been honored for excellence by The Princeton Review. This is the third consecutive year that the Campbell School has been featured in The Princeton Review’s annual publication recognizing top business schools nationwide.

“We are pleased to recommend the Berry College Campbell School of Business to readers of our book and users of our site,, as one of the best institutions they could attend to earn an MBA,” stated Robert Franek, senior vice president for publishing at The Princeton Review. “We chose the 301 business schools in this book based on our opinion of their academic programs and offerings, as well as our review of institutional data we collect from the schools. We also strongly consider the candid opinions of students attending the schools who rate and report on their campus experiences at their schools on our survey for the book.”

The Princeton Review does not rank the business schools featured in "The Best 301 Business Schools: 2010 Edition" on a single hierarchical list or name one business school best overall. Instead, the book has 11 ranking lists of the top 10 business schools in various categories. Ten lists are based on The Princeton Review’s surveys of 19,000 students attending the 301 business schools profiled in the book. The 11th, “Toughest to Get Into,” is based solely on institutional data. The lists are available online at The Campbell School is one of 66 schools in the book that appear on one or more of the book’s ranking lists.

"The Best 301 Business Schools: 2010 Edition" features two-page profiles of each institution. In its profile, the Campbell School was lauded for “having an increasingly important presence in the North Georgia economic community.”

“We are delighted to once again be recognized by The Princeton Review as one of the top business schools in the nation,” said Dr. John Grout, Campbell School dean. “This recognition is the result of the continuous efforts by the Campbell School faculty to offer a quality MBA program within the Northwest Georgia region. We are pleased that our students have this opportunity to express their support for our program.”

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Youth Success Strategies Conference at Georgia Aquarium Nov. 16-18

/PRNewswire/ -- The Georgia Mentoring Partnership, the Georgia Parental Information & Resource Center, and the Adolescent Family Life Project, in partnership with Communities In Schools of Georgia, are conducting a joint conference on November 16-18 at the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta. The event is open to anyone who wants to learn more about mentoring, parent engagement, dropout prevention and other youth development strategies. Sessions are conducted by renowned presenters and will provide participants with information regarding how to be an effective mentor, navigate the school system, and maintain effective school and community-based programs, to name a few. The keynote luncheon speaker is Byron Garrett, CEO of the National PTA. Visit for registration information and more details.

CIS is the nation's largest dropout prevention organization. CIS partners with local school districts and community organizations to connect needed resources and services to kids and families. In Georgia, 42 CIS local affiliates and 21 Performance Learning Centers(R) (PLCs) provide services to more than 160,000 students in 54 school systems. Key programs include mentoring, tutoring, parent education, literacy, after-school programs, youth leadership, and PLCs.

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Monday, October 26, 2009

Keel Named President of Georgia Southern University

The Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia (USG) today named Dr. Brooks A. Keel, 53, vice chancellor for research and economic development and professor of biological sciences, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, president of Georgia Southern University in Statesboro.

“Dr. Keel has Georgia roots, and is a graduate of two USG institutions, so he is an outstanding success story for the university system and the state. He brings tremendous academic credentials, understands our state challenges on all dimensions and has the experience to link industry and the academy together in creative and compelling ways,” said Chancellor Erroll Davis. “I have no doubt that he will be a great partner for the board while leading Georgia Southern to the next level.”

Regent Donald M. Leebern Jr. chair of the Special Regents’ Committee for the presidential search at Georgia Southern, added that Keel’s “history of leadership in higher education is impressive. The committee is extremely confident in his ability and readiness to lead Georgia Southern.”

Keel will assume his post on January 1, 2010, according to USG Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Academic Officer Susan Herbst. He will replace Georgia Southern President Dr. Bruce Grube, who will step down as President, effective December 31, 2009. Dr. Grube has served the University System in this role since July 1, 1999.

“We were searching for someone who understood that the center of Georgia Southern is its students, faculty, and staff. And in order for Georgia Southern to further build its research profile, we needed a leader who knows how to develop research infrastructure,” said Herbst. “Brooks has keen understanding of what makes a university work effectively and efficiently for its many stakeholders.”

Prior to his appointment at Louisiana State University, Keel was a professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and associate vice president for research at Florida State University, Tallahassee, from 2002-2006. His professional career began in 1985 at the University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita, where he served in a variety of positions including the Daniel K. Roberts Distinguished Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology (1995-2001), president of the Women’s Research Institute (1993-2001), and director of Reproductive Medicine Laboratories (1994-2002).

He is a member of the Society for the Study of Reproduction, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine and the Society for Gynecologic Investigation, among others. Keel has served on numerous boards related to his discipline, including the American Board of Bioanalysis, and has been honored for his work by these and other organizations. Keel earned a Ph.D. in reproductive endocrinology from the Medical College of Georgia, Augusta, and a bachelor of science in biology and chemistry from Augusta College (now Augusta State University), Augusta, Ga.

He has done postdoctoral work at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston and the University of South Dakota School of Medicine, Vermillion.

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How students view time influences dropout rate

In the struggle to keep students from dropping out of school, UGA researchers are finding that how a student views time and rewards play key roles in why some students quit on their educations.

“It is so well known that it is a cliché: To get a good job, you need a good education,” said Jeff Jordan, a University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences professor. “Yet, more than one-third of children do not graduate from high school.”

For the 2007-2008 school year, Georgia’s dropout rate was 22 percent, or 18,960 students. Of those, 8,711 were removed for lack of attendance, 6,078 dropped out because of other adult education, 1,406 were expelled, and 1,330 dropped out for unknown reasons, according to a chart provided by the Georgia Department of Education.

The rate is slightly lower than the previous year, but Georgia still ranks in the bottom five for dropouts nationally.

It’s about time

Jordan has studied Spalding County eighth-graders since 2005, along with researchers from Georgia State University and Georgia Tech. He’s collected data on 1,300 students. He’s trying to figure out their time preferences, something he calls student discount rates.

Time – specifically how a student views the future – is one of the key reasons some students drop out.

Jordan and his colleagues chose to study eighth-graders because “most kids finish elementary school still engaged,” he said. “It’s that time in middle school that those who drop out become disengaged.”

“What research is showing is that we lose kids earlier than we thought we did. They are often present physically, but not present emotionally – they are not engaged,” said Sharon Gibson, a UGA Cooperative Extension multicultural specialist.

In Georgia, students can drop out when they’re 16. The average eighth-grader is between 13 and 15 years old.

The how

Jordan, an agricultural economist, uses money to study how long students are willing to wait. In 2008, the group surveyed eighth-graders at all four Spalding County middle schools to see whether they would rather have the money now or if they would be willing to wait for a few months for more.

In each of the classes they studied, they gave three students gift cards in the amount they chose – $49 for students who indicated they wanted the money now and up to $98 if they were willing to wait longer for more.

The results

The research shows that black boys have significantly larger discount rates than any other demographic group, a finding that may indicate these students have a different view of the future, he said. “They tend to view positive outcomes as less likely and negative as more likely.”

According to Gibson, “if all you’ve seen is negative, negative, negative, and all you hear is negative, negative, negative, then the expectation is that of ‘when is the other shoe going to fall?’”

Kids who live in high-stress environments often find it difficult to believe something good could happen to them, even when it’s happening, she said.

Jordan also found that discount rates predict the likelihood that a student will have above-average disciplinary referrals. And his research has found something else – reward-based reinforcement isn’t necessarily the best way to get kids engaged in school.

“All the research that has been done on these kinds of incentive systems shows that they make things worse,” he said. “‘Good’ kids get the rewards, and the kids who aren’t getting good grades and are falling behind aren’t (getting rewards). The way our system is set up, it makes the gap between high- and low-achieving kids widen.”

In part because of his research, the four middle schools now have a new incentive-based system in place. These incentives have shorter time periods between rewards and more sequential rewards.

Digging deeper

This past summer, Jordan started looking at fourth-graders and kindergarteners. He’s trying to pinpoint when students lose interest in school. That age could vary depending on the child.

Gibson is closely following Jordan’s research and hoping that her outreach efforts will benefit from his findings. Through a USDA Children, Youth, and Families at Risk Sustainable Community Projects grant, she focuses on rural communities to engage and empower youth to “be the change they want to see in the world,” she said.

The project she’s currently working on, called UGA Cooperative Extension Teens As Planners, offers teens opportunities to increase their employability. This is done by helping them improve their workplace, life and technological skills as well as giving them opportunities for civic engagement and service-learning.

“We all need to know we are valued and that we have something positive to contribute,” Gibson said. “Youths are no exception. They need to know that their voices are heard and that their community expects them to contribute and appreciates their contribution.”

By Stephanie Schupska
University of Georgia

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Friday, October 23, 2009

GCSA: DeKalb Schools Lawsuit Takes Away Civil Rights

District wants to take away a parents’ right for public school choice

The Georgia Charter Schools Association takes great exception with the decision by the DeKalb County Public Schools and Superintendent Crawford Lewis to sue the State of Georgia and the Georgia Charter Schools Commission for the purpose of maintaining control of the educational choice options of parents and students in the county.

DeKalb County Public Schools, with a student population of 100,000, 72,000 of which are African American, has never met AYP and has seen the number of schools within the district failing to meet AYP grow from 18 to 30 in the same time period. The 30 schools which did not make AYP during the 2008 – 2009 school year have a combined 94 percent minority student population.

DeKalb and Gwinnett school officials have falsely asserted that the state is reallocating local funds to Ivy Preparatory Academy, an ethnically diverse all-girls charter middle school in Norcross, and that this threatens the overall quality of public education in the county. Both are incorrect.

Lawsuit about controlling quality educational options

“In light of the poor performance of schools in the DeKalb School District, the need for charter schools and options other than district-run schools there is profound and undeniable,” said Georgia Charter Schools Association Chief Executive Officer Tony Roberts, Ph.D. “Launching this lawsuit demonstrates that the DeKalb School District would rather spend its limited resources to fight the Georgia Charter Schools Commission than to do right by its students and their parents. Students who have left their failing schools for a school like Ivy Preparatory Academy did so for good reason and should not be denied the benefits of taxpayer funded public education—which the lawsuit attempts to do.”

Through the Georgia Charter Schools Commission, an independent charter authorizing body created by the passing and signing of HB881 in 2008, the state is now funding Commission-approved charter schools at a level equivalent to that of traditional public schools. Ivy Preparatory Academy in Gwinnett County and Charter Conservatory for Liberal Arts and Technology in Bulloch County are the state’s only charter schools approved by the Commission.
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Thursday, October 22, 2009

National Park Hosts Live Electronic Field Trip for Students

On Tuesday, November 3, millions of students from all over the country will visit Great Smoky Mountains National Park on an Electronic Field Trip, during which they will explore one of the richest ecosystems on earth. The National Park Service, National Park Foundation, UPS Foundation, and Apple are teaming up to showcase the biodiversity of the Park for students around the country via this live broadcast. From the comfort of their classrooms, elementary and middle school students will be able to interact with National Park Rangers and local student hosts from North Carolina and Tennessee and learn about biodiversity and the wonders of the Smokies.

An interactive website,, is now available for teachers and students to prepare for the electronic field trip through six learning modules with interactive games, video podcasts, and lesson plans. Schools can still register to participate in the broadcast through the website. Once schools have registered on the website, they can begin their adventure to Great Smoky Mountains National Park exploring the Park’s rich biodiversity of plants and animals. During the live broadcast, students can call in or e-mail their questions, and a bank of experts from the Park will be available to answer them. The live 60-minute program will air via satellite, cable and webcast from 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. EST on Tuesday, November 3.

“The Smokies is home to more than 17,000 known species of plants and animals making it world renowned for its biological diversity,” said Park Superintendent Dale Ditmanson. “Even so, new species are continually being discovered in this mountain wonderland. We’re excited that students around the country will learn about biodiversity, what it is, why they should care about it, and what they can do to protect it both in the Smokies and in their own backyards,” continued Ditmanson.

Local students in 6th through 8th grades in East Tennessee and Western North Carolina auditioned to be the student talent who will work with Park Rangers in the field during the broadcast to search for salamanders, sift through leaf litter, and turn over rocks in streams in order to showcase the biodiversity of the park for other students. The show will be based in and around the Twin Creeks Science and Education Center in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Questions about registration and/or broadcasting should be addressed to: Carolyn Hill,

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Graduate Nursing Scholarship Established at UWG

The University of West Georgia recently established the Raymond L. Abernathy Graduate Nursing Scholarship, created by his daughter, Dale Howard, who is a nurse, and his son-in-law, Teddy Howard, to “honor the memory of an exceptional and loving father who nurtured his children’s dreams.” The scholarship will benefit graduate students in UWG’s School of Nursing.

“My father would be honored and humbled by having this scholarship established in his memory,” said Dale Howard. “He greatly respected the nursing profession, always supporting my pursuit of continued nursing education at the University of West Georgia. Indeed he would be proud to contribute to the educational opportunities of a new generation of master’s degree-prepared nurses at UWG’s School of Nursing.”

Abernathy graduated from Hiram High School in 1944 and began working in the mailroom of Courts and Company, a brokerage firm of the New York Stock Exchange. He worked his way up, learning from his mentors along the way. From 1950 to 1952, he served in the Korean War, where he was promoted to Master Sergeant in the Army. After the war, with the help of the GI Bill, he began taking classes at Georgia State University. He earned a Bachelor of Business Administration in May 1962.

Throughout his life, Abernathy passionately encouraged his own children and grandchildren to always do their best in school. He bequeathed a deep love of academics to his family. He firmly believed higher education and a strong work ethic opened the door to numerous opportunities and a better way of life. His education served him well as he succeeded in the investment banking industry for more than 60 years. Upon his death in July 2007 at age 80, he was the vice president of investments and securities at Morgan Stanley.

To be eligible for this scholarship, graduate nursing students must have an overall grade point average of 3.0 or better. The selected student must also meet or exceed UWG’s academic standards throughout the duration of the scholarship.

For more information on the Raymond L. Abernathy Graduate Nursing Scholarship and other scholarship and giving opportunities, contact the Office of Development and Alumni Relations at 678-839-6582.

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Board of Regents file lawsuit against Medical College Foundation

The Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia announced October 20 that it has filed a lawsuit against the Medical College of Georgia Foundation after many months of attempting to resolve its differences with the Foundation. The lawsuit was filed by the attorney general of Georgia in the Superior Court of Richmond County.

Strains in the relationship were first made public in the summer of 2008 when the regents terminated the Cooperative Organization status of the Foundation. The president of the Medical College of Georgia, Dr. Daniel Rahn, and others also resigned from the Foundation’s board in subsequent months.

The suit contends that the Foundation has refused to cease using the name Medical College of Georgia as it was contractually bound to do and also required to do under the trademark laws of the United States and the State of Georgia.

Additionally, the Foundation is alleged to have violated its fiduciary responsibilities to the Medical College under its Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws; has failed and refused to align its fundraising priorities and efforts with those of the Medical College and the Board of Regents; has refused to furnish, in a timely manner, financial information necessary for MCG’s budgeting and planning purposes; has violated Georgia’s Unfair Trade Practices Act; and otherwise has acted in a manner contrary to the best interests of the Medical College as required by the Foundation’s articles.

The lawsuit also notes that the Cooperative Organization Agreement expressly provided that, on termination, the Foundation was prohibited from using the MCG name, symbols and trademarks and that a separate agreement known as the “Affiliation Agreement” provided that use of the Medical College name, trademark and symbols was subject to the approval of the MCG president.

According to the lawsuit, the Foundation acknowledged its obligation to cease using the name in correspondence after the termination of the formal relationship between the entities and even filed papers to change its name in June, 2009, only to change it back to the Medical College of Georgia Foundation, Inc., in August 2009.

The suit also contends that the Foundations’ Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws require it to supplement and enhance actions taken by the Board of Regents to support MCG, but today, the Foundation makes no effort to follow the fundraising priorities of the Regents and MCG. Rather, according to the lawsuit, the Foundation independently determines its fundraising priorities without regard to the most important needs of MCG. The lawsuit contends that the failure of the Foundation to collaborate and cooperate with MCG and the Board of Regents is harmful to MCG and not in its best interests and could jeopardize MCG’s accreditation and its fundraising capacity.

Formal and informal discussions and negotiations following the action terminating the Foundation’s Cooperative Organization status were intensified in the months leading up to the filing of the lawsuit. Representatives of the Board of Regents, MCG, the Attorney General’s office and the Foundation were involved in those discussions. These efforts have not been successful.

The Board of Regents now believes the courts provide the only means of resolving the relationship between MCG and the Foundation.

Since August 2008, the Board of Regents and MCG have been affiliated with the Georgia Health Sciences University Foundation, a cooperative organization operating within the Board of Regents’ guidelines.

John Millsaps
Board of Regents

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Georgia Tech Wins NSF Award for Next-Gen Supercomputing

The Georgia Institute of Technology today announced its receipt of a five-year, $12 million Track 2 award from the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Office of Cyberinfrastructure to lead a partnership of academic, industry and government experts in the development and deployment of an innovative and experimental high-performance computing (HPC) system. The award provides for the creation of two heterogeneous, HPC systems that will expand the range of research projects that scientists and engineers can tackle, including computational biology, combustion, materials science, and massive visual analytics. The project brings together leading expertise and technology resources from Georgia Tech’s College of Computing, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), University of Tennessee, National Institute for Computational Sciences, HP and NVIDIA.

NSF’s Track 2 program is an activity designed to fund the deployment and operation of several leading-edge computing systems operating at or near the petascale. An underlying goal is to advance U.S. computing capability in order to support computational scientists and engineers in the pursuit of scientific discovery. The award announced today is the part of the fourth round of awards in the Track 2 program.

“Our goal is to develop and deploy a novel, next-generation system for the computational science community that demonstrates unprecedented performance on computational science and data-intensive applications, while also addressing the new challenges of energy-efficiency,” said Jeffrey Vetter, joint professor of computational science and engineering at Georgia Tech and Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

“The user community is very excited about this strategy,” Vetter continued. For example, James Phillips, senior research programmer at the University of Illinois who leads development of the widely-used NAMD application, says “Our experiences with graphics processors over the past two years have been very positive and we can’t wait to explore the new Fermi architecture; this new NSF resource will provide an ideal platform for our large biomolecular simulations.”

Georgia Tech’s Vetter will lead the five-year project as principal investigator. The project team is comprised of luminaries in the HPC field, including a Gordon Bell Prize winner and previous recipients of the NSF Track 2B award. Co-principal investigators on the project are Prof. Jack Dongarra (University of Tennessee and ORNL), Prof. Karsten Schwan (Georgia Tech), Prof. Richard Fujimoto (Georgia Tech), and Prof. Thomas Schulthess (Swiss National Supercomputing Centre and ORNL).

The platforms will be developed and deployed in two phases, with initial system delivery planned for deployment in early 2010. This system’s innovations in performance and power will be achieved through heterogeneous processing based on widely-available NVIDIA graphics processing units (GPUs). As industry partners, HP and NVIDIA will be providing the computational systems, platforms and processors needed to develop the system.

“Research institutions are looking for energy-efficient, high-performance computing architectures that can speed time to solution,” said Ed Turkel, manager of business development in the Scalable Computing and Infrastructure business unit at HP. “The combination of HP’s industry-standard HPC server technology with NVIDIA processors delivers increased performance and faster application development, accelerating higher education research projects.”

The initial system will pair hundreds of HP high-performance Intel processors with NVIDIA’s new next-generation CUDA architecture, codenamed Fermi, designed specifically for high-performance computing. This project will be the first of the Track 2 awards to realize the vast potential of GPUs for HPC.

“Computational science is a key area driving the worldwide application of GPUs for high-performance computing,” said Bill Dally, chief scientist at NVIDIA. “GPUs working in concert with CPUs is the architecture of choice for future demanding applications.”

A critical component of the program is a focus on education, outreach and training to expand the knowledge and understanding of HPC among a broader audience. The Georgia Tech team will conduct workshops to attract and train new users for the system, engage historically underrepresented groups such as women and minorities, and educate future generations on the vast potential of high-performance computing as a career field.

More information on the project and its resources is available at

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

USA Funds Prevents $23.7 Billion in Student Loan Defaults

/PRNewswire/ -- USA Funds®, the nation's leading education loan guarantor, reports that it prevented $23.7 billion in defaults on more than 1.5 million past-due federal student loan accounts during the fiscal year ending Sept. 30. USA Funds' default prevention efforts were successful in averting default on more than 93 percent of loan accounts on which payments were reported by the lender as being 60 days or more past due.

USA Funds' default prevention efforts saved U.S. taxpayers an estimated $22.5 billion and student loan borrowers a projected $7.8 billion in additional costs associated with student loan default.

"The severe economic recession has generated a significant increase in student loan payment delinquencies," said Carl C. Dalstrom, USA Funds president and CEO. "Despite these challenges USA Funds has worked hard to maintain its default prevention success rate to spare taxpayers and student loan borrowers the expense of default."

As part of its default prevention efforts, USA Funds supports a team of 250 full-time professionals who work to contact student loan borrowers who have fallen behind in their payments and counsel them about the options for resolving their payment issues. Those options include scheduling a payment; flexible repayment plans, including income-based repayment options; and deferment and forbearance to temporarily postpone or reduce a borrower's monthly payments.

Last year this default prevention team made more than 85 million phone calls and sent 2.7 million pieces of correspondence to borrowers to assist them in resolving their student loan payment issues.

To promote successful student loan repayment, USA Funds supports additional services, including online borrower counseling programs, personal finance education for college students, as well as default prevention support to higher education institutions.

If, in spite of these efforts, borrowers default on their loans, federal law requires USA Funds to continue to pursue recovery of outstanding amounts owed taxpayers. During the past fiscal year, USA Funds recovered more than $1.2 billion from borrowers in default on their loans. This figure includes more than $459 million in rehabilitated loans, which permit borrowers who previously defaulted on their federal student loans to restore their accounts to repayment and improve their credit record.

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Clayton State to Hold Information Session for Recently Accredited Education Degree Programs

Clayton State University's growing undergraduate curriculum recently added four new education degrees which are offered through the College of Arts & Sciences and the College of Information and Mathematical Sciences. The new programs are devoted to meeting teacher needs in Biology, English, History and Mathematics.

According to Dr. Carla Monroe, the Teacher Education department chair, the Georgia Professional Standards Commission (PSC) recently approved four new undergraduate education degrees for Clayton State, along with the University's two existing Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) degrees. The four new degrees are: a B.S. in Biology (secondary education emphasis), a B.S. in Mathematics (secondary education emphasis), a B.A. in English (secondary education emphasis), and B.A. degree in History (secondary education emphasis). Individuals who graduate from these programs will be recommended for certification to teach in grades six through 12. Each of the new degrees has its own curriculum worksheet, and is slightly different than the "regular" Biology, English, History, and Math degrees.

An information session on the undergraduate and graduate degree programs will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 27 at 11:10 a.m. in Room B-10 of the Lecture Hall at Clayton State University.

For more information on the individual programs, contact the faculty coordinators for each area: Dr. Michelle Furlong (Biology; 678-466-4778;, Dr. Carla Monroe (Teacher Education; 678-466-4743;, Dr. Ruth Caillouet (English; 678-466-4700;; Dr. R.B. Rosenburg (History; 678-466-4808;; and Dr. Nathan Borchelt (Mathematics; 678-466-4424;

A unit of the University System of Georgia, Clayton State University is an outstanding comprehensive metropolitan university located 15 miles southeast of downtown Atlanta.
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Monday, October 19, 2009

Financial Times ranks Robinson College Executive MBA 23rd in U.S.

Rankings released Oct. 19 by the Financial Times place the Executive MBA (EMBA) program at Georgia State University’s J. Mack Robinson College of Business 23rd among U.S.-based programs and 65th globally. Locally, it is the only EMBA offered by a public university to make the list.

The latest rankings, which list 95 schools, are based on a combination of survey results from EMBA graduates who received their degrees in 2007, and data provided by each school that covers increases in salary, international faculty representation, total female faculty and students, and more. Robinson's EMBA first made the Financial Times rankings in 2003 and has been on the list for six of the past seven years.

"We are proud to be recognized among the world's elite Executive MBA programs" said Robinson Dean H. Fenwick Huss. "This ranking underscores Robinson's stature as a leading resource for global executive education. It also is a tribute to the quality of our faculty, staff and students."

Added Dave Forquer, assistant dean of executive programs, "One of the most significant elements of the Financial Times ranking is its survey of EMBA students. Our position among the best programs in the world confirms that we deliver on our promise to develop global business leaders."

Robinson's Executive MBA is an accelerated course of study that allows students to earn their degrees in 16 months. The average Robinson EMBA student has more than 15 years business experience. Classes meet every other week on Friday and Saturday at Georgia State University's Buckhead Center. In addition to its emphasis on leadership, one of the highlights of the EMBA program is an international residency in which students gain a greater understanding of international trade through an immersion in the culture, business climate and business practices of the host country.

Past residencies have included study in India, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Beijing, Argentina, Spain, Belgium, Czech Republic, Greece, the Netherlands and Iceland.

Noted for an emphasis on educating leaders, the Robinson College and Georgia State University have produced more of Georgia's top executives with graduate degrees than any other school in the nation.

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UGA once again breaks record with enrollment of 34,885

Spurred by growth in several colleges and schools, the University of Georgia has its largest student body in history this fall with an enrollment of 34,885. The fall semester enrollment is up 705 students (two percent) above last fall when the enrollment topped 34,000 for the first time, with several newer colleges, schools and programs recording enrollment growth of 12 percent or more.

The Faculty of Engineering saw the biggest enrollment increase this fall with a 192.3 percent growth from 39 students in 2008 to 114 students this year. This increase is due in part to the first time acceptance of freshmen into the engineering program.

The College of Public Health saw a 50.8 percent enrollment increase with the addition of 157 students.

The Odum School of Ecology and the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources also saw significant growth with enrollment increases of 27 percent and 22 percent respectively.

The College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences saw a 12.7 percent growth with the addition of 189 students over last year’s enrollment of 1,483.

Total enrollment includes 33,826 students on UGA’s main campus in Athens, up two percent from last year, and 953 students at the university’s extended campuses in Gwinnett County, Tifton, Griffin and Buckhead in Atlanta—a one percent increase from last fall. An additional 106 students are enrolled in independent study.

On the main campus in Athens, undergraduate enrollment totals 25,913, up by 712 over last year, and graduate enrollment decreased by 15 students to a total of 6,309. Enrollment in the professional schools of law, pharmacy and veterinary medicine increased by 51 students to a total of 1,604.

“The demand for enrollment at UGA continues to grow given the quality of our educational programs. I am particularly pleased to see growth in many of our new and existing programs,” said Arnett C. Mace, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. “I commend the deans, faculty and staff of these units for the recruitment of these outstanding students to their programs and to UGA.”

Of the total 34,885 enrollment, 8,132 students had never attended UGA before including 4,332 first-time freshmen who enrolled this fall. Combined with 320 first-time freshmen who enrolled this summer, the total count of first-time freshmen for summer and fall is 4,652.

Of the first-time freshmen who enrolled this fall, 363 had earned enough academic credit through joint-enrollment or advanced placement programs to be classified as sophomores, and 10 had enough credit to be classified as juniors.

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Friday, October 16, 2009

Distance Education in the USG: Supply and Demand Up Significantly

Student enrollment in online courses offered by the University System of Georgia (USG) has risen 35 percent in just the past year, and the USG’s online offerings have expanded significantly, the Board of Regents learned during an update today on the USG’s distance-education efforts.

In the two years since the launching of Georgia ONmyLINE (GOML) –, a searchable catalog of the online courses and programs offered by all 35 USG institutions statewide, the 35 programs and 1,600 courses offered online have now expanded to 169 programs and nearly 2,870 courses, according to Dr. Kris Biesinger, associate vice chancellor for Information and Instructional Technology (OIIT) Services. In addition, she noted the GOML website has been visited by more than 90,000 visitors from 50 states and 140 countries.

The number of students who are taking at least one online course from a USG institution in any given semester now stands at 43,000, a little less than 15 percent of the nearly 300,000 students enrolled at System institutions.

What kind of student turns to a computer rather than showing up in an actual classroom?

“When you think of distance learners, you probably think of someone who works all day, then logs on to their course in the evenings after their children are in bed,” said Dr. Catherine Finnegan, OIIT’s director of online instructional support services and Biesinger’s co-presenter. “You may think that they never have parking problems, have to use the library or meet with a faculty member on campus. But, to be honest, very few distance students take classes exclusively off-campus. In fact, the vast majority are picking up one or two online courses that fit in better with their busy lives or that help them to meet graduation requirements in a more timely fashion.”

Finnegan said the demographics of the USG’s online learners – revealed by a market analysis study conducted earlier this year – are in line with national trends. “More women than men take distance-education courses from the USG,” she said. “Nearly half of all of our online learners are over the age of 24, or non-traditional students, and 31 percent of them are African American. In fact, these courses attract a slightly higher percentage of minority students overall than are in the general USG population.”

Where are these students taking their courses? The analysis shows that the University System’s two-year, access colleges and state universities generate the most distance semester credit hours each year, and the four USG research institutions the least, Finnegan said. Georgia Perimeter College far outstripped any other USG institution, having generated more than 94,500 distance semester credit hours during fiscal year 2009.

In her presentation, Finnegan acknowledged that, “Probably one of the most frequently asked questions about online learning is, ‘is it really quality learning?’” She was able to report that, “In a national study released this past June, the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) found that students who took all or part of their instruction online performed better, on average, than those taking the same courses solely through face-to-face instruction. We believe that our USG institutions are making decisions that ensure quality in our online offerings.”

“Distance education is an approach that USG institutions can use to address a number of our strategic goals, such as building enrollment capacity despite constraints on classroom space,” Biesinger said. “And, as the DOE study shows, we don’t have to worry that increasing online courses will lead to a drop in quality. In fact, quality remains equal to or even higher than traditional classroom instruction.

“As our enrollment growth in the University System continues to climb, we must be creative so that we can continue to serve our traditional student populations while being aggressive in serving currently underserved populations,” Biesinger said in summary. “USG institutions need to fully recognize the importance of delivering education in multiple formats and increase the integration of distance learning into their curricula.”

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Top Southern High Schools Receive Prestigious College Counseling Award

/24-7/ -- The 2009/2010 Standards Medal has been awarded to The Baylor School ( of Chattanooga, Tennessee and Northview High School ( of Johns Creek, Georgia. This award for online excellence in secondary school college counseling is given annually to the top public and private high school in the southeast regional United States. Award sponsor Southern College Tour's VP and Director of Communications Shelley Conklin stated, "We are pleased to announce The Baylor School (Private) and Northview High School (Public) as our 2009/2010 winners. Well over one-thousand school websites were analyzed and evaluated AND as The Standards Medal description states, 'The selection process identified superior content, organization and programs contained within the college counseling section of a school's website. These criteria strongly reflect the overall quality of a school's commitment to assisting college-bound students with college planning, selection, and application.'."

To see a detailed description of The Standards Medal, the Finalists and Honorable Mentions, visit Southern College Tours is a leading educational consulting firm providing schools, students and their families all-inclusive southern region college tours and college preparation expertise.

Private Finalists: Ravenscroft School (NC), Forsyth Country Day (NC), The Walker School (GA), St Joseph's Catholic School (SC), and The Westminster Schools (GA). Public Finalists: Pope High School (GA), Kennesaw Mountain High School (GA), Riverside High School (NC), Spain Park High School (AL), and Green Hope High School (NC). There were ten honorable mentions per category. Private Honorable Mentions: Greater Atlanta Christian (GA), Charlotte Latin School (NC), Marist School (GA), Randolph School (AL), Pinewood Preparatory School (SC), Memphis University School (TN), Girls Preparatory School (TN), Providence Day School (NC), McCallie School (TN), and Lausanne Collegiate School (TN). Public Honorable Mentions: East Chapel H.S. (NC), Alpharetta H.S. (GA), Bearden H.S. (TN), Kell H.S. (GA), Virgil Grissom H.S. (AL), Crescent H.S. (SC), Spring Valley H.S. (SC), North Forsyth H.S. (NC), Scotts Hill H.S. (TN), and Maryville H.S. (TN).

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Regents Approve Revised Core Curriculum for University System

The University System of Georgia’s (USG) governing body, the Board of Regents, took a step yesterday to revise the core undergraduate curriculum. The regents approved a revised core curriculum, the basic courses all students must take in order to earn a degree, in order to help students complete their majors in a timely way, strengthen the focus on liberal arts, preserve the ability of students to transfer courses across institutions, and boost the assessment of student learning. The new core will go into effect in the fall of 2011.

“This is a major step for the University System,” said Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Academic Officer Susan Herbst. “We have engaged hundreds of our faculty from across the system in a comprehensive process over the past year to create a flexible and rigorous general education curriculum.”

The revised core builds upon one of the University System’s strengths as revealed in a review of higher education systems nationwide –– the relative ease with which students in the System’s 35 degree-granting colleges and universities can transfer between USG institutions.

“The ability of a student to transfer easily between institutions positions that student to graduate more quickly,” Herbst said in a presentation of the new core curriculum to the regents. “Transfer lies at the heart of core curriculum issues for large systems, but we must also protect the unique missions all colleges and universities. The core curriculum committee, presidents, administrators and faculty have done an excellent job of reconciling these competing goals to the benefit of all students.” She said that the committee used this “unrivaled transferability” as the foundation upon which the new core curriculum was built.

A ten-member Core Curriculum Evaluation Committee, chaired by Professor George Rainbolt of Georgia State University, oversaw the revision process and conducted the review of higher education systems’ core curriculums.

The revised core curriculum supports the Board’s Strategic Plan Goal One, which calls for a renewal of excellence in undergraduate education to meet students’ 21st century educational needs. This marks the first major revision of the core curriculum since 1998.

The new core curriculum is designed to:

give all students a broad liberal arts education;
mandate more assessment of student learning than ever before in the USG’s history;
enable students to finish their majors/degrees in a more timely fashion;
protect the already-strong within-USG transfer between institutions; and
give USG institutions the flexibility to create unique core curricula that give students a powerful, shared, intellectual experience and alls students to choose an institution that fits their needs and interests.
The revised core curriculum includes the addition of new learning outcomes, which allows educators and the public to assess how effective teaching really is in a college or university.

Rainbolt said that the USG core curriculum is vital to the entire state of Georgia. “The core represents the primary body of knowledge all undergraduate students must master in order to graduate,” he said. In addition, Rainbolt said that with the new core curriculum, every student who graduates from a USG institution will have demonstrated critical thinking abilities, as well as a solid understanding of their nation’s role in the world.

The core curriculum demands that students understand the general nature of the sciences, the social sciences, the humanities and the fine arts. “This broad, rigorous education will enable them to become strong leaders of their communities, businesses, and professions in the future,” said Herbst.

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West Georgia Campus Closed for Furlough Days

The University of West Georgia will be closed on Thursday, Oct. 15, and Friday, Oct. 16, because of state-mandated furlough days. The campus will reopen on Monday, Oct. 19.

All University System of Georgia employees are required to take six days of leave without pay during fiscal year 2010 under the Mandatory Furlough Program. This program applies to all USG employees regardless of source of funds, or place of work, including staff, administrators, faculty and all other employees in classified and unclassified positions, including, but not limited to, time-limited, intermittent, temporary employees, and new hires.

These furlough days equal three days of unpaid leave since September for the employees of UWG.

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Emory Prevention Research Center Awarded $6.2 Million CDC Grant

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has awarded the Emory Prevention Research Center (EPRC) $6.2 million in a five-year grant renewal, Emory University researchers have announced.

The new grant award will enable the Emory Prevention Research Center, housed at Emory’s Rollins School of Public Health (RSPH), to continue its mission to prevent cancer and reduce health disparities among residents of rural southwest Georgia.

Established in 2004, the Emory Prevention Research Center is one of 35 CDC-funded Prevention Research Centers nationwide working as a network to conduct disease prevention research and promote public health in partnership with communities. The EPRC partners with the Southwest Georgia (SWGA) Cancer Coalition and a Community Advisory Board to conduct research, offer training, share research results, and provide evaluation technical assistance to local organizations in 33 counties of rural southwest Georgia.

Five years ago, the EPRC and its partners in Southwest Georgia collaborated to conduct the Healthy Rural Communities studies. Now, they are testing a program called Healthy Homes/Healthy Families in which trained coaches from the community work with families. The coaches will help the families assess their homes for healthy eating and physical activity opportunities. Then, the families and coaches will work together to make changes at home.

"The study is designed to see if we can change the home environment to make it healthier and whether changing the home environment leads to improved behavior," says Michelle Kegler, DrPH, EPRC director and principal investigator, and associate professor of behavioral sciences and health education at Emory’s Rollins School of Public Health (RSPH).

The new funding includes support for the EPRC’s research, but the Center also conducts training for community-based organizations to build local capacity for health promotion programs and provides technical assistance on evaluation for local organizations. Urban areas tend to have greater resources for health promotion than rural areas, so the EPRC is working closely with its partners in a 33-county region of Southwest Georgia to provide more research and other resources.

“Our partnership with the EPRC provides opportunities for southwest Georgia residents to participate in important research that ultimately may lead to improvements in health care across our regions,” says Diane Fletcher, chief executive officer of the Southwest Georgia Cancer Coalition. “We look forward to continuing these collaborative efforts that help to fulfill the Cancer Coalition’s mission to serve the people of our communities.”

The CDC grant award also provides special interest project grants for RSPH faculty to advance research in cancer and other diseases. This year’s award of $2.2 million includes four special interest projects and two additional new projects, including the Cancer Prevention and Control Research Network, which promotes the use of evidence-based programs for cancer control locally and nationally.

Other Emory projects funded this year include:

• Study of Active Surveillance Attitudes and Perceptions for Prostate Cancer led by Theresa Gillespie, PhD, associate professor, Emory University School of Medicine

• Coordinating Center for the Managing Epilepsy Well (MEW) Prevention Research Centers Network led by Colleen DiIorio, PhD, RN, FAAN, professor, Rollins School of Public Health

• Multiple Perspectives on Dual Protection Use by Young Women led by Ralph DiClemente, PhD, professor, Rollins School of Public Health, and Melissa Kottke, MD, assistant professor, Emory University School of Medicine

“We’ve laid a great foundation for collaborative research over the past five years, and we are excited about what can be accomplished with our community partners in the next five years,” says Kegler.

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2009 Nation's Report Card in Mathematics Reveals No Change at 4th-Grade, But New High for 8th-Grade Score

/PRNewswire/ -- There has been no significant change in the performance of the nation's 4th-graders in mathematics from 2007 to 2009, a contrast to the progress seen from 1990 to 2007 at that grade level and subject, according to the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in mathematics. But the 8th-grade mathematics score on the NAEP, which is also called The Nation's Report Card, continued to improve nationwide and reached its highest level since 1990.

The Nation's Report Card: Mathematics 2009, released today, details the achievement of 4th- and 8th-graders on the NAEP, administered by the U.S. Department of Education earlier this year. The report compares national results in 2009 with each prior assessment year going back to 1990, and state results going back to 1990 at grade 8 and 1992 at grade 4.

At the state level, scores improved at 4th-grade in eight states, while four states saw decreases from 2007. At the 8th-grade, scores increased from 2007 to 2009 in 15 states, and no states showed declines. Overall, four states and the District of Columbia saw increases at both 4th- and 8th-grades.

None of the gaps in either grade narrowed from 2007 to 2009. The gaps between Black and White students and between private and public school students narrowed from 1990 to 2009 for 4th-graders and remained unchanged for 8th-graders.

"While the scores for 8th-graders in math continue to be encouraging, the failure of our 4th-graders to make progress nationally is a cause for concern," said David P. Driscoll, chair of the National Assessment Governing Board, which sets policy for NAEP. "With a lack of progress at 4th-grade and large achievement gaps that are relatively unchanged, we need to re-examine our efforts to improve student achievement in math."

While average scores for 4th-graders in all racial/ethnic groups reported in NAEP did not change significantly since 2007, they were higher than in 1990 for those groups with reportable results. Scores for 8th-graders were higher in 2009 than in both 2007 and 1990 for all racial/ethnic groups except American Indian/Alaska Native students, who showed no significant change since 2007.

The trends at different achievement levels mirrored the overall trends in scores. For example, the percentages of 4th-graders performing at or above Basic (82 percent) and at or above Proficient (39 percent) in 2009 were the same as those in 2007 but still higher than they were from 1990 to 2005. Improvements in national 8th-grade scores since 2007 and all previous assessment years were consistent with increases in the percentages of 8th-graders performing at or above Basic (73 percent) and at or above Proficient (34 percent) in 2009.

Results across NAEP performance levels were also consistent with national trends. In grade 4, there were no significant changes in scores from 2007 to 2009 for lower-performing students (at the 10th and 25th percentiles), middle-performing students (at the 50th percentile), or higher-performing students (at the 75th and 90th percentiles). The scores at grade 8 improved at all performance levels, except for the lowest-performing students (10th percentile) who saw no significant change since 2007.

Male students continue to score two points higher than female students in mathematics at both grades 4 and 8. The gaps have not widened, however, since 2007.

The 2009 NAEP assessment in mathematics was administered by the National Center for Education Statistics of the U.S. Department of Education to a nationally representative sample of 168,800 4th-grade and 161,700 8th-grade public and private school students. Results for representative samples of public school students only are also reported for each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the Department of Defense schools.

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Friday, October 9, 2009

Clayton State Graduate Studies Open House October 13

The Clayton State University School of Graduate Studies next monthly informational Open House will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 13 from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. in room 101 of the University’s Harry S. Downs Center on the main campus in Morrow.

The Open House will give prospective graduate students a chance to learn more about the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies, Master of Arts in Teaching English, Master of Arts in Teaching Mathematics, Master of Business Administration, Master of Health Administration, and Master of Science in Nursing. The Clayton State School of Graduate Studies normally holds open houses on the second Tuesday evening of each month.

The mission of graduate education at Clayton State is to stimulate, encourage and support efforts that build national distinction and that are characterized by innovation and by increasing contribution to the social, cultural, economic, health and technological development needs of Georgia and the nation. The University is committed to excellence, innovation and collaboration in research and in the preparation of professionals for the highest levels of practice.

Graduate education prepares: scholars in the arts, humanities, and the sciences who maintain and advance our understanding of the human condition; scientists, engineers, and other professionals needed by industry, government, and universities to conduct the nation's research and development; and scholars in all disciplines who become the faculties of our colleges and universities.

A unit of the University System of Georgia, Clayton State University is an outstanding comprehensive metropolitan university located 15 miles southeast of downtown Atlanta.
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Thursday, October 8, 2009

Georgia Southern University's College of Business Administration Recoginzed by The Princeton Review

Georgia Southern University’s College of Business Administration has been recognized as one of the best business schools in the country by The Princeton Review. This is the fourth year in a row Georgia Southern University has been included on the list.

“It is an honor to be included on The Princeton Review’s best business school list,” said Ronald Shiffler, dean of the College of Business Administration. “In the 2010 edition, the publishers of the Princeton Review feature information about our outstanding academic offerings, our faculty’s dedication to students, and the flexibility of our on-line programs. We are very proud of our faculty and outstanding students who helped make this recognition possible.”

The Princeton Review names Georgia Southern University’s MBA program as one of the best in the country. The guide highlights the classes offered on the Statesboro campus, at the Coastal Georgia Center in Savannah and the on-line courses that make up the Georgia WebMBA program. Business schools are included on the Princeton Review list after an extensive research and surveying process.

“We are pleased to recommend Georgia Southern University’s College of Business Administration to readers as one of the best institutions they could attend to earn an MBA,” said Robert Franek, Princeton Review senior vice president of publishing. “We chose the 301 business schools in this book based on our opinion of their academic programs and offerings, as well as our review of institutional data we collect from the schools. We also strongly consider the candid opinions of the students attending the schools who rate and report on their campus experiences at their schools on our survey for the book.”

“Georgia Southern’s MBA program provides outstanding advanced educational opportunities with the flexibility working professionals need as they take the next step towards advancing their career,” said Melissa Holland, director of Georgia Southern’s MBA programs. “Our MBA students told the publishers of the Princeton Review about their professors’ willingness to work around their schedule and even providing students with their cell phone numbers in case they had questions in the evenings or on the weekends. Those are some of the reasons so many students choose Georgia Southern University for their MBA.”

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GSU, Morehouse School of Medicine to partner on developmental disabilities

The Center for Leadership in Disability (CLD) at Georgia State University has been awarded a three-year, $675,000 grant to develop a joint program on developmental disabilities with the Satcher Health Leadership Institute (SHLI) at the Morehouse School of Medicine.

Funding will come from the Administration on Developmental Disabilities of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The disability partnership will serve as a vehicle for exchanging ideas and innovation in research, training and services between the faculty, staff and students of the two institutions, with the goal of reducing disparities in health and well-being related to disability and minority status in Georgia.

"This is a fantastic development for our center," said Daniel Crimmins, director of the CLD and clinical professor of public health. "We are a new program at GSU, and have received tremendous support from so many people here and in the disability community.

"We're off to a good start, but there's still much to do," he said. "This grant provides an opportunity to work closely with SHLI, one of the premiere programs in the country addressing health disparities, to focus on some critical needs in Georgia. The grant also requires us to develop the partnership as a model for other programs across the country."

The grant builds on CLD's designation as a University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities, and its mission to translate research into sustainable community practices that support independent, fulfilling, productive lives.

CLD is based in the GSU Institute of Public Health and Center for Healthy Development, within the College of Health and Human Sciences. In July, CLD received a five-year grant of over $2 million as part of its designation as a UCEDD.

SHLI is directed by former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher, with the mission to develop a diverse group of public health leaders, foster and support leadership strategies, and influence policies toward the reduction and ultimate elimination of disparities in health.

"We at SHLI and Morehouse School of Medicine are delighted to be able to join in partnership with GSU in taking advantage of this opportunity to advance the lives and productivity of persons living with disabilities," said Satcher. "This opportunity is consistent with our commitment to eliminate disparities in health as they impact the lives of persons living with disabilities."

The partnership reflects CLD's expertise in developmental disabilities and SHLI's expertise in addressing the needs of minority communities. The partnership will focus on improving access to services and supports to reduce and ultimately eliminate health disparities for individuals with disabilities and their families from minority backgrounds. The plan is aligned with the goals and priorities for both programs.

There are 67 UCEDDs in the U.S., with at least one in every state and territory. Centers are in a unique position to facilitate the flow of disability-related information between community and university. UCEDDs provide training, technical assistance, service, research, and information in working with people with disabilities, family members, state and local government, and community providers.

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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Kaiser Permanente of Georgia Donates Nearly $500,000 to Morehouse School of Medicine

/PRNewswire/ -- On Oct. 8, 2009, Kaiser Permanente of Georgia will present a grant for nearly $500,000 to the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at the Morehouse School of Medicine to support the development and implementation of a workforce leadership program that will reduce health disparities by creating an integrated approach to primary care and mental health.

Former Surgeon General David Satcher, MD, Director of the Satcher Health Leadership Institute will join Morehouse School of Medicine and Kaiser Permanente of Georgia officials at a check presentation held at the Louis W. Sullivan National Center for Primary Care. A tour of Morehouse School of Medicine will immediately follow the check presentation.

The grant will be used to train scholars to encourage effective policy and practice in order to remedy the causes of health disparities, to improve access to care and to develop health care leaders who will advance the integration of mental and primary health care. Additionally, this initiative will create partnerships between mental and primary health care to more effectively diagnose and treat mental health conditions.

"Morehouse School of Medicine strives to improve the health and well-being of individuals and communities. Similarly, Kaiser Permanente's vision is to end health disparities, help everyone get the care they need and make better health a reality for all," said Peter Andruszkiewicz, president of Kaiser Permanente of Georgia. "This partnership will help address the findings of our needs assessment and ultimately make better health a reality for all."

The project will also improve access to care for underserved populations.

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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Georgia Southern University Named one of the Top 25 Safest College Campuses in U.S.

Georgia Southern University has been named one of the nation’s safest college campuses by The Daily Beast, a popular online news reporting and opinion Web site. Georgia Southern was ranked number 18.

“We are very pleased that our efforts have resulted in being recognized as one of the safest college campuses in the country. To be selected from nearly 9,000 schools speaks to the efforts that the University and the Statesboro community have made to continually improve the safety of our campus,” said Bruce Grube, president of Georgia Southern University. Parents of prospective students always consider safety when they are looking at universities and colleges, and this ranking affirms that Georgia Southern is among the safest.”

The Daily Beast ( is a news reporting and opinion website published by Tina Brown, former editor of Vanity Fair and The New Yorker.

To arrive at the rankings, The Daily Beast examined data submitted by colleges and universities each year as required under the federal Cleary Act. Each year, Georgia Southern along with other colleges and universities provides safety data to the U.S. Department of Education about crimes on and near campus. The Daily Beast took the two most recent years of raw data from nearly 9,000 schools with an enrollment of more than 6,000 students. They then further analyzed more than 4,000 (excluding two-year colleges, standalone graduate schools, etc.) on more than 50 different criteria. Each was measured by weighing different crimes and factoring in incidents both on campus and nearby. Local FBI data was also used to make the statistics as up-to-date as possible. Colleges and universities were also judged on a students-per-capita basis so that large universities would not be penalized when compared with small colleges.

“While Georgia Southern University continues to grow, one thing that separates it from other universities with 19,000 students is the feeling of community,” said Mike Russell, director of public safety and chief of the Georgia Southern University Police. “There is definitely a community atmosphere and we make an effort to get to know people and everyone watches out for one another. We do our best to ensure that our students are safe and our parents, faculty and staff appreciate that.”

Some of the other universities that were ranked include: Texas A&M, Brigham Young University (BYU), University of Mississippi, University of Virginia, Georgia College & State University and the University of Montana.

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Monday, October 5, 2009

'Creative' Ways To Pay For College

(StatePoint) There's good news for parents who want to help their children get a college education but don't know how to pay for it.

We all know that scholarships are available for talented athletes and students with straight A's. But what if your daughter would rather pick up a paintbrush than a basketball? Or your son is a brilliant writer but doesn't get the best grades?

Each year, cash awards and nearly $4 million in tuition scholarships are made available to creative teens nationwide, through The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, now in its 87th year.

Young artists and writers can earn money for college by using their talents in a variety of disciplines, including poetry, video game design, short stories, sculpture and more.

The Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, the nonprofit that administers the awards, is now accepting entries from students in grades 7-12. To find out more, visit

"In our 87th year, we expect to see the trend continue of more submissions and even more superior work, thanks in part to the extraordinary teachers guiding these talented youth," said Virginia McEnerney, Executive Director at the Alliance.

If you or someone you know has ever received a Scholastic Art & Writing Award, share your success story with the Alliance at

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Saturday, October 3, 2009

Sallie Mae Highlights Common Ground in Discussion on Student Loan Program Reform

(BUSINESS WIRE)--On a recent conference call with school customers, Sallie Mae executives highlighted the company’s support for reforming the federal student loan programs and making college more affordable. Consistent with the President’s reform proposal, the Community Proposal, an alternative plan supported by Sallie Mae and a broad list of industry players, would eliminate lender subsidies and have federal ownership of all student loans, generating $87 billion in mandatory savings to help make college more affordable.

Vice Chairman and CFO Jack Remondi emphasized that the company agrees that the old Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP) should end, and that reform should result in a single federal student loan program with one set of loan terms. He also clarified that the Community Proposal supported by Sallie Mae and other lenders would end the pre-2008 FFELP lender compensation formula, which included lender subsidies.

Executives also underscored the following facts:

* The government has the lowest cost of funds and can fund federal student loans least expensively.
* FFELP’s performance under the highly successful Ensuring Continued Access to Student Loans Act (ECASLA) proves that federal funding works for institutions and students and that federal ownership of student loans delivers significant budget savings.
* Current market participants deliver federally funded student loans as seamlessly as they delivered privately funded student loans.
* The Congressional Budget Office has determined that the Community Proposal would have the federal government own student loans, achieving $87 billion of mandatory savings, just as federal ownership saves $87 billion in H.R. 3221, the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2009, that can be used to fund Pell grants. Comparisons to historic FFELP program costs are misleading and irrelevant, as the Community Proposal advocates for the termination of the pre-2008 FFELP cost and subsidy structure.
* Private sector service providers bring expertise in loan origination, servicing and collection that cannot be matched solely by the federal government in a non-competitive environment.
* Private sector competition and consumer choice drive innovation and responsiveness, and have proven to lower student loan defaults.

Remondi addressed numerous questions from schools regarding their concerns about the significant risks for colleges and students inherent in the Administration’s proposal. He also clarified that the choice on the table is not between $87 billion in savings and lender subsidies, as both proposals generate the $87 billion of savings and advocate for the elimination of subsidies. Rather, the choice is between a government-run monopoly and a competitive program that provides better service for students and schools. In addition, he outlined the unique risk-sharing component of the Community Proposal and how it would lead to lower default rates.

He also discussed the community’s broad support for maintaining competition among numerous originators and servicers, compensating service providers on a fee-for-service basis (as the Direct Loan Program does today) using competitive market rates, maintaining guarantors’ successful financial literacy and default prevention programs, requiring servicers to share in the risk of loan default, and eliminating transition risk for 4,500 colleges and universities at a time of severe budget constraints.

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Friday, October 2, 2009

Statement of Governor Sonny Perdue Regarding the Release of this Year's Graduation Rate

Governor Sonny Perdue issued the following statement October 1 regarding the release of this year’s final graduation rate, which is up to 78.9 percent:

“During my first year in office in 2003, our graduation rate stood at just over 63 percent. Since then, our efforts have been focused on helping students finish high school. We created the innovative graduation coach program which identifies at-risk students and creates individualized completion plans. Our Work Ready initiative engages local communities by requiring improvement in the graduation rate in order to qualify as a Certified Work Ready Community. As a result, local leaders and businesses are getting more involved in their schools, ensuring their hometown has an educated, talented workforce. Thanks to the hard work of our teachers, graduation coaches, principals and community leaders, we have seen tremendous improvement in the graduation rate of more than 15 percent in just six years. We are now on the cusp of achieving a benchmark goal of an 80 percent graduation rate by next year, and with another year of hard work and dedication I know we can achieve what some believed was impossible.”

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