Southern Polytechnic State University

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Southern Polytechnic State University
Official logo of Southern Polytechnic State University
Former names
The Technical Institute (1948–1949),
Southern Technical Institute (1949–1987),
Southern College of Technology (1987–1996)
Motto Imagination, Innovation, Application[1]
Type Public
Active 1948[2]–2015
Endowment US$3.1 million (2012)[2]
President Ron Koger
Academic staff
226 full-time (Fall 2013)[3]
96 part-time (Fall 2013)[3]
Students 6,238 (Spring 2014)[4]
Undergraduates 5,410 (Spring 2014)[4]
Postgraduates 802 (Spring 2014)[4]
Other students
26 (Spring 2014)[4]
Location Marietta, Georgia, United States
33°56′32″N 84°31′15″W / 33.94222°N 84.52083°W / 33.94222; -84.52083
Campus Suburban (230+ acres)[5]
Colors Green and White          
Athletics Southern States Athletic Conference
Nickname Runnin' Hornets
Affiliations University System of Georgia
Mascot Sting
President Emerita: Dr. Lisa Rossbacher[6]

Southern Polytechnic State University (also called Southern Poly; abbreviated SPSU) was a public, co-educational, state university in Marietta, Georgia, United States approximately 20 miles (32 km) northwest of downtown Atlanta. Until 2015, it was an independent part of the University System of Georgia and called itself "Georgia's Technology University."[7]

Southern Tech was established in 1948 as The Technical Institute in Chamblee, Georgia. The first classes were held with 116 students. It was renamed the Southern Technical Institute in 1949 and moved to its present campus in Marietta, Georgia in 1962. It went through another name change in 1987 and became the Southern College of Technology. In the summer of 1996, the university adopted its polytechnic name. It was one among a small group of polytechnic universities in the United States that tend to be primarily devoted to the instruction of technical arts and applied sciences.[8]

On November 1, 2013, plans were announced by the Georgia Board of Regents for Southern Polytechnic and Kennesaw State University to be consolidated into one university.[9] On January 6, 2015, the Georgia Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia approved the consolidation of Southern Poly and Kennesaw State, with Kennesaw State as the surviving institution. On July 1, 2015, Kennesaw State established the Southern Polytechnic College of Engineering and Engineering Technology in honor of the former SPSU.




After World War II, the need for technicians spiked due to a major economic shift in Georgia from being a largely agricultural state to one that is more industry heavy.[10] The new industries required technicians to bridge the growing gap between engineers and craftsmen, effectively the gap between research/development and building/implementing. At the time, most technical institutes in the United States were in the northeastern states; thus the need for a technical institute in the south was great.[11]

In response to the growing demand, the president of the Georgia Institute of Technology, Colonel Blake R. Van Leer, sought to establish a technical institute program in Georgia. In 1945 he was approached by the Associated Industries of Georgia (AIG) who shared their common desire to have such a program and offered Van Leer their support. It took years for Van Leer to convince the Board of Regents to give Georgia Tech authorization to establish a technical institute. On October 8, 1947 the authorization was granted. The location chosen for the fledgling institute was a Naval Air Station in Chamblee, GA, which eventually became the site of DeKalb–Peachtree Airport.[12]:1 The first director was to be Professor Lawrence V. Johnson, and it was going to open under the name of The Technical Institute.[12]:4 On March 24, 1948 The Technical Institute held registration for the spring quarter and 116 students enrolled (all but 10 World War II veterans), including one young woman named Barbara Hudson.[12]:19,23[13] The institute had a staff of 12.[13]


Southern Polytechnic State University's official university logo, 1996 to 2008

In 1949, The Technical Institute became the Southern Technical Institute and was recognized as a college-level school by the U.S. Department of Education.[14] Twelve years later, the college migrated to its present campus in Marietta, Georgia, which was previously part of Dobbins Air Reserve Base.[citation needed] The General Lucius D. Clay National Guard Center (then known as Naval Air Station Atlanta) also moved to the opposite (south) end of Dobbins Air Reserve Base around the same time.[14] In 1961, Hoyt McClure was named acting director and led the movement to build eight new buildings on 120 acres (49 ha) of land.

The Southern Technical Institute became accredited as a four-year college in 1965 and was one of the first colleges in the nation to offer the Bachelor of Engineering Technology degree. It also earned independence in the University System of Georgia, separating ties with Georgia Tech. In the summer of 1980, the college officially became the fourteenth senior college and the thirty-third independent unit of the University System of Georgia.[14] The college's first president, Dr. Stephen R. Cheshier of Purdue University, was named in that same year. He saw the college through two name changes — Southern College of Technology (often called Southern Tech) in 1987 and Southern Polytechnic State University in the summer of 1996, when the school became a university. Dr. Cheshier retired as president of the university in June 1997. Dr. Daniel S. Papp served as interim president from July 1997 to August 1998, when the university welcomed Dr. Lisa Rossbacher, formerly of Dickinson College, as its president.[14]

Currently, the university hosts a satellite campus for Georgia Highlands College.[citation needed]

USG Merger[edit]

Eleven days before its planned vote, the Georgia Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia announced plans to consolidate Southern Polytechnic State University and Kennesaw State University into one university.[15] Given that public comments are only allowed with fifteen days notice the Regents consolidation plans were perceived as a deceitful and secretive move by faculty and students. The presidents of the two universities were not told of the consolidation plans until "a week and a half" before the public announcement. Reasons given for the consolidation effort focused on cost savings despite the merger of eight other colleges into four only saving an estimated 0.1%.[citation needed]


Since the completion of the merger several scandals have plagued the newly augmented Kennesaw State. Less than two years after the consolidation President Dan Papp announced that he was stepping down as president of the University.[16] His replacement, Sam Olens, was appointed amidst controversy over his total lack of education experience or background.[17] This appointment came on the heels of an audit that revealed that outgoing president Papp had violated financial policy in receiving more than a half million dollars in early retirement payment.[18] Before Papp's retirement announcement a seven-figure embezzlement scheme was uncovered and five KSU staffers and contractors were arrested.[19] The amount lost equated to nearly 15% of the merger-based savings of 2013.


Joe Mack Wilson Student Center (A Building)
The Joe Mack Wilson Student Center is in the northern part of campus. On the lower floor, the building houses the tutoring room called the "ATTIC", the Career and Counseling Center, three dining services, a post office service, and the campus bookstore. The top floor hosts the WGHR radio station, a game room, two conference rooms, a number of student organizations' offices, a ballroom, an auditorium, and the Auxiliary Services Office.
Administration Building (B Building)
The Administration Building, which also serves and is known as the welcoming center for visitors to the campus, is in charge of admissions, student records, and recruitment. The president's office and public relations office are in the building.
Academic Building (H Building)
Academic Building
The main floor of the Academic Building has a major auditorium, some physics labs, and the walk-up help desk for campus; it houses the facilities of the Construction Management Department. The facilities of the Division of Information Technology are in the basement.[20] The building is near the center of the campus — just south of the Lawrence V. Johnson Library and northwest of the Atrium Building.
Design II (I2 Building)
The new Design II building was completed December 2010. This building brings an additional 14,500 square feet (1,350 m2). Acting as an extension of Design I, Design II houses six large studio spaces and a 286-seat auditorium.[citation needed]
Atrium (J Building)
Atrium Building
The Atrium Building's name refers to the large atrium that lies in its center. The building houses multiple academic departments. The first floor consists mainly of classrooms; computer laboratories are on the second floor, and faculty offices and conference rooms are on the third floor.[21] It is located near the center of the campus — just west of Howell Hall and southeast of the Academic Building.
Engineering Technology Center (Q Building)
On January 24, 2008, Governor Sunny Purdue recommended a little over $33 million toward the construction of a new building to house five programs: Electrical Engineering Technology, Computer Engineering Technology, Telecommunications Engineering Technology, Mechanical Engineering Technology, and Mechatronics Engineering. The facility, the Engineering Technology Center, covers 123,000-square-foot (11,400 m2) and contains 36 labs, 12 classrooms, two seminar rooms, and a 200-seat lecture room.[22] It was completed in December of 2010; it opened on the first day of classes for the spring semester of 2011. It is on the western side of the campus – north of the parking deck and Stingers Restaurant.
Stingers Restaurant (X Building)
The construction of the new dining hall replaced the established dining hall when it was completed in July 2010. The building has two levels. The upper level dining area supports a commercial food service capable of serving hundreds of students and the lower level is designed to accommodate special events for the college and its administration.[23] The building is on the western side of the campus, south of the parking deck and the Engineering Technology Center.

Other buildings include the Lawrence V. Johnson Library (C Building), Mathematics Building (D Building), Crawford Lab Building (E Building), Engineering Lab Building (G Building), Civil Engineering Technology Building (L Building), W. Clair Harris Textile Center (M Building), Architecture Building (N Building), Housing Office (R10 Building), Recreation and Wellness Center (S1 Building), and Gymnasium (S2 Building). Southern Polytechnic State University has one off-campus facility, the Continuing Education Center.

Student housing[edit]

Southern Polytechnic State University features five on-campus housing facilities for its students. These facilities are Howell Hall, Hornet Village suites, University Commons apartments, University Courtyard apartments, and University Columns houses.[24] The university hosts a satellite campus for Georgia Highlands College and offers housing for its students alongside Southern Polytechnic State University students.[citation needed]

Howell Hall is a traditional dormitory building designed to house two residents per room and feature community bathrooms. Residence in this building is only available to freshman students. All building residents are required to subscribe to one of the university's dining services plans.[24] The Courtyard Apartments were built to hold 414 beds within 104 units.[citation needed] Construction was completed in 2004.[chronology citation needed] The construction of new residence halls and special interest housing began in 2009.[chronology citation needed] The residence halls, together called Hornet Village, consist of two buildings housing 600 new beds divided among ten buildings.[23] The special interest housing provides on-campus housing for fraternities, sororities, and university-sanctioned student organizations in ten facilities called the University Columns.[25]

Organization and administration[edit]

Faculty at Southern Polytechnic State University are at a ratio of about 1 faculty member per 19 students. About 42.5% of students attend classes with fewer than 20 students.[26] The small class size promotes a greater attention to the students and lets the faculty become more involved in each student's education. The faculty centers their attention to provide a laboratory and/or professionally oriented education that caters to problem solving, ethical awareness, and a desire for lifelong learning. Every faculty member has to have experience in relevant work or research of a topic to be qualified to teach at the school.[27] Because the faculty is more involved, 75.5% of freshmen attend for a second year.[26]

Since 2006, there has been a general 70% to 30% ratio of male to female professors. In 2007–2008 male professors made up to $7,000 more than female professors on average.[28] The gap between the difference in pay quickly decreased and by the 2009–2010 academic year the salary only differed by $300, $77,699 for males and $77,410 for females.[29] Of the 48 full-time professors in 2007, 52% of them had tenure. The number of professors dropped from 48 to 44 in 2008; with the drop of full-time professors, only 44% of full-time faculty had tenure.[30] It was recorded in 2010, that the number of full-time professors dropped again to 39, but the tenure rate remained the same.[29]

There are many awards given out at SPSU among the faculty including the Outstanding Faculty Award and the Employee Service Award.[31] The university chooses a select group of faculty whose achievements have been noteworthy enough to receive the OFA. The OFA committee changes each year and is made up of the previous year's recipients. The Employee Service Award acknowledges the service and achievement of permanent employees at periodic intervals with appropriate ceremony and awards.[32] A committee composed of representatives from the Staff Council and the Outstanding Faculty Awards Committee determine who receive the awards and the ceremony date. Both awards are given out at the same ceremony at the end of spring term.

Student government[edit]

The SPSU Student Government Association is composed of elected and appointed undergraduate and graduate students. According to the organization's constitution, the mission of the Student Government Association is as follows:

The Student Government Association shall provide a systematic process of open communication among students, faculty, and administration. The SGA shall act as an advocate and insure that the students of the Southern Polytechnic State University are capable of exercising their lawful rights concerning their education, safety, and the allocation and expenditure of service and activities monies. The SGA shall endeavor to support Southern Polytechnic State University goals and missions through activities which demonstrate the value and contributions of the Southern Polytechnic State University to our community and state.[33]

Police department[edit]

Southern Polytechnic State University operates an on-campus police department.[34] Its officers have the ability to arrest on university property (which is under the control of the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia) and on any public or private property within 500 yards (460 m) of property controlled by the Board of Regents.[35]


Southern Polytechnic State University offers a broad range of undergraduate degree programs and several masters degree programs through its four schools and its Division of Engineering. It offers 24 online certificate, graduate, and undergraduate degree programs as well as the "eCore" program which is made up of the first two years of college courses completely online and is composed primarily of core classes.[36]

Undergraduate programs[edit]

Southern Polytechnic State University offers many majors through its schools. The university's academic divisions are made of its School of Architecture and Construction Management; School of Computing and Software Engineering; School of Engineering Technology and Management; School of Arts and Sciences; and Division of Engineering.[37] The most popular programs of study for undergraduate students are Architecture, Computer Science, Mechanical Engineering Technology, and Mechanical Engineering.[38] The university's construction engineering program is one of nine in the nation, and its mechatronics engineering program is the first in Georgia. Other unique programs at SPSU include a five-year professionally accredited architecture degree and undergraduate degrees in surveying and mapping, systems engineering, and technical communication.

SPSU follows the University System of Georgia's Common Core program. The curriculum framework for the Common Core System is made up of several areas that outline the required core classes for each student to graduate.

  • Area A: Essential Skills is made up of basic English and mathematics courses.
  • Area B: Institutional Options is made up of courses pertaining to global issues in science and technology, oral communication, and critical thinking.
  • Area C: Humanities and Art Fine Arts includes courses such as literature, art appreciation, and languages.
  • Area D: Science and Mathematics is made up of courses such as biology, chemistry, physics, astronomy, and calculus.
  • Area E: Social Sciences includes courses in history, political science, psychology, ethnic studies, and religion.
  • Area F: Fundamental 2000-level degree courses.

Graduate programs[edit]

SPSU offers eleven graduate degree programs, nine graduate certificate programs, and four advanced graduate certificate programs.[39] The eleven graduate programs award master's degrees in Accounting, Business Administration, Computer Science, Construction Management, Electrical Engineering Technology, Information and Instructional Design, Information Design and Communication, Information Technology, Quality Assurance, Software Engineering, and Systems Engineering.[40] The university has been offering many of its master's degrees online since 1997.[41]

Special learning opportunities[edit]

Southern Polytechnic State University offers special learning opportunities. These opportunities include teacher certification, distance learning, and study abroad programs. The university features cross-enrollment programs with the Georgia Institute of Technology that enable SPSU students to participate in the Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps, Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps, and Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps programs hosted at the Georgia Institute of Technology's campus.[3]

University Honors Program[edit]

Southern Polytechnic State University offers a University Honors Program to motivate academically talented students throughout their course studies. The University Honors Program offers the students with smaller classroom, research studies with the professors, a separate study room, and more intellectual rigor.[42] To join the program, students should have a minimum GPA of 3.2 at the freshman or sophomore level, 3.3 at the junior level, or 3.4 at the senior level. The University Honors Program offers two types of honors degrees:

  • University Honors Scholar degree requires 12 credit hours of honors course work and 6 credit hours of upper-division honors course work.
  • Departmental Honors Scholar degree requires completion of 6 hours of enriched upper-division coursework or directed study.[43]


According to the American Society for Engineering Education, in its 2010 edition of Profiles of Engineering and Engineering Technology Colleges,[44] Southern Polytechnic State University was ranked third for the most engineering technology degrees awarded in the United States from 2001 to 2010 in total and third in the number awarded to female graduates in that same time. The university ranked second in the nation in total enrollment of students in engineering technology degree programs. In 2010, the school was ranked as one of the toughest universities in the U.S. as reported by CBS News.[45]


Southern Polytechnic State University has earned the following academic accreditations:[46][47]

Student life[edit]

Student media[edit]

The Rock, on January 20, 2017

Southern Polytechnic has had three student-run media outlets: a college radio station, a student newspaper, and a yearbook.

WGHR (Green Hornet Radio),[48] the campus radio station, is a non-commercial educational station that began as "WSTB" in 1969 on carrier current AM, then became licensed as WGHR at 102.5 on the FM dial in 1981, moving to 100.7 in 1998.[49] The station's broadcast license was canceled in 2001 because two commercial radio stations were allowed to take those FM frequencies, without compensation to the station or the school.[50] WGHR continues to webcast, however. The station's radio studios and office are in the student center. According to the SPSU Student Handbook, WGHR "offers interested students an opportunity to gain broadcast and technical experience."[51]

The STING (meaning Southern Technical Institute News Gazette), the campus newspaper, was established as The Engineering Technician when the school was founded.[citation needed] It offers opportunities for writers, photographers, and advertising salespeople to acquire experience and to be a resource and tool for the student body. The STING was a member of the Georgia College Press Association,[52] but will be merging with KSU's The Sentinel.

The Log (short for The Technician's Log) was the yearbook for Southern Tech, but ceased publication in the late 1990s. It shared offices, and in some cases staff members, with The STING. The KSU yearbook (Montage until 1993, then Talisman) ended in 1995, replaced by Talon magazine, which will adopt the name The Sting.

Student organizations[edit]

Activist organizations