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Dean's Update - January 2012


US News has long ranked universities along a number of dimensions.  However, they have primarily restricted themselves to brick-and-mortar institutions and programs.  However, it recently changed this and it evaluated a series of online programs, including undergraduate programs, and graduate programs in business, computer information technology, education, and nursing.  Since this is the first year US News has done this, they decided not to rank programs overall, but instead to publish scoring tables on each of four criteria, namely
  • Admissions selectivity, 
  • Faculty credentials and training, 
  • Student engagement, in the sense of how well faculty engage students, and accreditation, and
  • Student services and technology.
University administrators are often somewhat dismissive of these rankings as they disagree with the criteria that US News uses to rank institutions and programs.  For example, admissions selectivity is to a large extent measured by reliance on external tests, such as GRE, and CSE decided a few years ago to discontinue using the GRE because we determined that it did not provide us any additional information about applicants.

However, while dismissing rankings in general, university administrators, with a delicate sense of hypocrisy, typically celebrate a high US News ranking by their institutions or one of their programs.   I am no exception, and I am therefore pleased to announce that US News ranked our MSIT program as the best in the country on student engagement and accreditation.  The MSIT program also came 17th on student services and technology.   I wanted to congratulate the Department of Information Technology and its faculty, and in particular Dr Andy Wang, the chair of the department, on this recognition.


In December of last year, around 40 students competed in the IBM Master the Mainframe Contest.  The competition was established by IBM about 7 years ago in recognition of the growing importance of mainframes and the resultant need for a new generation of mainframe experts.  The competition is divided into three parts, with part I being a general introduction to mainframes, in which students get fairly detailed instructions on what to do, with part II requiring students to will perform some more extensive systems programming (advanced commands, system setup and advanced system navigation) and application developing and part III requiring students to complete tasks taken from real-life situations encountered by experienced systems programmers.  15 of the 40students completed part I, and one, Yvan Guiatheu, completed part II.  Congratulations to all students and to Dr Andy Wang, who was the faculty sponsor for this competition team. 


As we started our spring semester, we keep growing our enrollments in CSE, both in absolute and relative terms. We are starting the semester with a total of 1,303 certificate and degree students, or 23.6% of the total enrollment at SPSU.  This is up from 1,133 students in the spring of 2010, when our enrollment was 21.2% of total enrollment at SPSU.  CSE now also boosts the largest graduate program with the MS in Information Technology and the largest undergraduate program with the BS in Computer Science.  While the growth itself is positive and bodes well for our strategic goal of Increasing the number of CSE graduates who are well prepared for work and life to better serve the community, it has also led to some serious logistical problems with course sections being full.  However, CSE faculty have shown a remarkable flexibility in allowing higher caps on their class sizes and the CSE department chairs have done an outstanding jobs in creating student-centered schedules and in finding adjuncts where required.  I, and more importantly I am sure, our students greatly appreciate the effort that all in the CSE are making to help our students get in the classes they need to get closer to their graduation.


Continuing a tradition started a couple of years ago, SPSU will again be participating in the global game jam, which will be held on January 27-39.  You may recall that last year we hosted the first Georgia wide global game jam at SPSU.  This year, we made a few changes.  First, the host will be SCAD.  Second, SCAD will host two game jams in Georgia, one in Atlanta and one in Savannah.  The fact that the global game jam will be hosted by another institution is a testament to the ability of our gaming faculty, Dr Jon Preston and Dr Chastine, to build connections with other gaming programs in the state.  The event, which promises to be another great educational and fun event for our gaming students, will be sponsored by Eyes Wide Game and Coca-Cola at the platinum level, by Kaneva and Tripwire interactive at the gold level, and by Hi-Rez Studios and Songster (Mowgli Games).  Although SPSU is not hosting the jam, I know that both Jon and Jeff have put a lot of effort into making the jam a reality and our thanks are due to them.  


Every semester, the dean’s office generates a Dean’s List and a Merit List.   The Dean’s List contains the names of the undergraduate students who completed 12 credit hours or more and earned a semester GPA of 3.5 or above, while the Merit List contains the names of the undergraduate students who completed 9 hours or more and earned a semester GPA of 3.5 or more.  While we post the lists outside the Dean’s Office, I realized that we should do more to celebrate the success of these students.  We therefore now also post the lists on our web site at


You may recall that the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia approved SPSU to offer programs in civil, electrical, and mechanical engineering in August of 2009.  These programs were intended to broaden the range of engineering programs available at SPSU and added to the engineering programs that SPSU has already been approved for, namely construction, mechanotrics, software, and systems engineering.  SPSU has now built on this and recently established a separate School of Engineering, with Tom Currin as its inaugural dean.  The new School will house all SPSU’s engineering programs, with the exception of software engineering, which will remain in CSE.  The establishment of the School of Engineering is an obvious next step in the maturation of engineering programs at SPSU and Dean Currin and his faculty deserve our congratulations for this important milestone.