Columbus State to Offer Nexus Degree in Film Production

Columbus State University was approved by the Board of Regents today to offer the first ever nexus degree in film production. With courses to be offered as early as spring 2019, the 60-credit-hour degree emphasizes hands-on learning to prepare students for Georgia’s high-demand film industry.

“This new degree is validation of our premier role in preparing and credentialing workers for Georgia’s fastest growing industry,” said CSU President Chris Markwood.  “With the help of our community partners, CSU looks forward to growing our film program even more soon.”

In cooperation with the Columbus Film Office and the Georgia Film Academy, students will be placed in experiential learning opportunities on movie productions in Georgia, and when possible, in the city of Columbus. Additionally, students may be placed on production sets for national television spots and productions secured by the Columbus Film Office and Georgia Film Academy.

The experiential learning opportunity will fulfill six credit hours of the degree requirement, with an additional 42 credit hours in general education and 12 credit hours in upper division coursework that focuses on the skills and knowledge needed in the film industry. Curriculum is being designed in collaboration with industry experts to ensure it meets specific requirements for the high-demand jobs.

Columbus State University, along with Albany State University, were the first to be approved for new nexus degrees by the Board of Regents today. Nexus degrees are 60-credit-hour credentials that emphasize hands-on experiential learning, skilled knowledge, and connections with industry in high-demand fields.

While Columbus State’s nexus degree is in film production, Albany State will offer nexus degrees in blockchain with machine learning and blockchain with data analytics. According to the University System of Georgia, other fields under consideration for future USG programs include cybersecurity and financial technology.

For more information on the new nexus degree in film production at Columbus State University, contact the CSU Department of Communication at (706) 507-8601.

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Columbus State Welcomes 44 New Faculty for 2018-19 Academic Year

Columbus State University starts the fall semester with 44 new full-time faculty members, filling academic needs in all four colleges and CSU Libraries. The new faculty includes an award-winning figure skater, a former FBI special agent, an animation specialist and academics from around the world – including Egypt, Turkey, China, and Bolivia.

The new faculty members are:



Ms. Emily Crews joins the Simon Schwob Memorial Library as the Outreach and Instruction Librarian. She earned her Masters in History and MLIS from Valdosta State University. Prior to moving to Columbus, Emily worked as a Reference and Instruction Librarian at Clayton State University.




Mr. Demetrius Dukes is joining the Department of Art as an Assistant Professor specializing in Animation.  Demetrius received his MFA in Media Technology and Entertainment from Florida Atlantic University. His academic research is centered around exploring 20th century art forms and their influence on contemporary interactive platforms. Prior to arriving at Columbus State, Demetrius served as the Visiting Instructor of Animation at Florida Atlantic University.


Dr. Bruce Getz is joining the Department of Communications as an Assistant Professor. He holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in mass media from Valdosta State University, a Masters of Education in curriculum and instruction from Columbus State University , and a doctoral degree in mass communications from the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications. Dr. Getz is a former news videographer (WTVM), creative services producer (WALB) and teacher of the video production magnet program at Shaw High School.


Dr. Joe Girard, joins the Schwob School of Music as an Assistant Professor of Saxophone. As a chamber musician and tenor saxophonist of the Donald Sinta Quartet, he has performed around the world and received top prize in numerous international competitions. Dr. Girard received his Doctorate from Michigan State University, and both his Master and Bachelor of Music at the University of Michigan. Additionally, he received a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan and regularly applies concepts from the sciences to his teaching and performing.


Ms. Katherine Irwin will teach Communication and Public Relations this year. She was born and raised in Irving (Dallas), Texas and earned her degree in Journalism from Texas A&M University at College Station in 1991. She has worked as a newspaper police reporter and feature writer in community radio, as well as positions in business marketing, web development and graphic design. Irwin later earned her masters degree in Communication from Auburn and has been teaching ever since.


Dr.  Henry Kramer is an award-winning pianist who has performed across the world. His honors include the 2015 William Petschek Recital Debut Award from The Juilliard School, the Second Prize winner of the 2016 Queen Elisabeth Competition, the 2014 Harvard Musical Association Arthur Foote Award and a winner of Astral’s 2014 National Auditions. Henry holds degrees from The Juilliard School and Yale School of Music.


Dr. Juan Liu’s primary research focuses on both traditional forms of political mobilization as well as how social media affect individuals’ political participation. Her secondary research area focuses on the strategic use of social media in public relations campaigns. Her scholarly work has published in New Media & Society, Mass Communication and Society.  She holds a Ph.D. from Wayne State University.


Dr. Ianthe Marini is the Paul S. and Jean R. Amos Distinguished Chair for Choral Activities and Assistant Professor of Music in the Schwob School of Music. She has served as the Professional Chorus Master for the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, DC, and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in Baltimore, MD. Marini received her Doctorate of Musical Arts from the University of Maryland. An active performer, she was recognized by Boston Broadway Awards as Best Actress in a Musical. She has created a rehearsal method that focuses on the growth of choral singers as active critical thinkers, honest communicators, and vulnerable actors.


Dr. Joshua May, tenor, has performed and premiered works throughout Europe, Canada, and the United States. Dr. May holds a D.M.A. in Voice Performance from the University of Connecticut; a M.M. in Vocal Performance from New England Conservatory of Music; a  M.M. Vocal Pedagogy New England Conservatory of Music, Music-in-Education Certification from New England Conservatory of Music; a B.A. from French Grand Valley State University; and a B.M. Voice Performance University of Florida. Prior to his appointment at the Schwob School of Music, he served as a voice faculty member and the director of the opera workshop at the University of Michigan-Flint. For more information on upcoming performances, please visit his website at


Violist Dr. Katrin Meidell, DMA, a performer, pedagogue, and lecturer. She is a Karen Tuttle Coordination pedagogue and performer, join the faculty of the Schwob School of Music. Her diverse abilities have taken her across the USA, to Canada, Finland, Austria, Poland, Brazil, and New Zealand. She holds degrees from Boston University, New England Conservatory, and the University of North Texas, and taught at Ball State University from 2013-2018. For more, please visit


Ms. Carrie Reif-Stice is an Assistant Professor of Strategic Communication. She is an applied scholar who studies the role of responsiveness in reducing illness stigma and uncertainty among chronically ill populations. She also examines the role resiliency in improving risk and crisis response. Her research has appeared in several book chapters and in the Journal of International and Intercultural Communication. Additionally, she has won several awards. Carrie will graduate in December with a Ph.D. in communication from the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. She holds master’s degree in public relations from Auburn University, and a bachelor’s degree from LaGrange College.


Amy Mutarelli Taylor is a dance professor, who holds a Bachelor of Science from Auburn University, and a Master of Fine Arts in Dance from the Florida State University. Amy taught ballet & modern dance at Darton State College in Albany, Georgia, and  served as the Director of Dance at Louisburg College (Louisburg, NC). Amy is also an adult figure skater. She has competed twice at the US Adult National Championships (2018 silver medalist in Bronze I ladies free skate).


Dr. Rachel E. Blackburn is a passionate advocate for performance as a tool for social change. She is an instructor, theatre director, and performer whose stage work has led her around the globe, including stints in London, Dublin, Toronto, and New York. Her research and academic writing currently live at the intersections of stand-up comedy, race, gender, sexuality, class, (dis)ability, transnational, and performance studies.




Dr. Anastasia Angelopoulou will be an Assistant Professor in the TSYS School of Computer Science. Anastasia holds a B.S. in Electronic and Computer Engineering from the Technical University of Crete and a Ph.D. and M.S. in Modeling and Simulation from the University of Central Florida. Her research interests lie in the area of modeling and simulation and its applications in virtual and augmented reality, serious games, human factors, high performance computing, internet of things, energy trading systems, and human-robot interaction. Her research work has been partially supported by the Office of Naval Research and the National Science Foundation (NSF), among others.


Dr. Fady Mansour grew up in Egypt. He holds a Ph.D. in economics from Middle Tennessee State University, and he is a former assistant professor of economics at Black Hills State University. He joined the faculty at CSU last year as visiting assistant professor of economics, during which time he became a Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) fellow where he obtained a QEP grant and developed a real-world problem project in his Macroeconomics class.


Dr. Joshua Brooks holds a Masters and Ph.D. in Finance from The University of Alabama. He is a former assistant professor at Lander University in Greenwood, South Carolina where he won the Young Faculty Teaching Award. He also maintains on-going consulting cases in the areas of derivatives valuation, returns attribution, and time-series econometrics.


Dr. Yaojie “William” Li holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Wisconsin Lutheran College, a Master’s degrees in Accounting and Computer Science, and a Doctoral degree in Computer Information Systems from Louisiana Tech University. His research interests reside in behavioral IS Security, influenced by two streams of organizational studies – organizational structure and design and positive organizational behavior. His research has been published in Managerial Auditing Journal and multiple proceedings in IS conferences.


Dr. Yi Zhou  has B.E.E. and M.S.E.E. degrees in electronic engineering from Beijing University of Technology and a Ph.D. degree in the Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering from Auburn University. Prior to joining Columbus State University, he was an instructor and teaching assistant at Auburn University. He has four-year industry experience as a senior technical staff member in Alcatel-Lucent and SoHu, which maintains the largest portal website in China. He won the Outstanding Ph.D. Student Award at Auburn University and has published a total of 11 papers so far. His research interests include energy-saving techniques, database systems, and parallel and distributed computing.


Stuart Smith is an Assistant Professor of Accountancy and recent graduate of Georgia State University. Prior to joining the Ph.D. program, he worked as an auditor for PWC and Grant Thornton, before becoming an analyst at APCO. Stuart’s experimental research examines how economic incentives provided by managerial accounting systems interact with social norms to affect manager and employee behavior within a firm. He currently teaches both introductory and advanced financial and managerial accounting courses at both the undergraduate and graduate level. Stuart is also an alumnus of the Georgia Institute of Technology, a former U.S. Army infantryman, and veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.




Dr. Erica Taylor is the Associate Dean of Health Professions in the College of Education and Health Professions. Prior to this appointment, she served as Department Chair and Associate Professor in the Department of Public and Allied Health Sciences at Delaware State University. Dr. Taylor has also taught at Auburn University, Kennesaw State University, and the College of William and Mary. She earned B.A. degrees in Kinesiology and Psychology at the College of William and Mary, and she completed a M.Ed. in Adult Fitness and Cardiac Rehabilitation and a Ph.D. in Exercise Science (Exercise Psychology specialization) at the University of Georgia.


Dr. Deniz Peker is an associate professor of science education. He holds a Ph.D. and an M.S. degree in science education from the University of Georgia and Indiana University-Bloomington respectively. He worked at Middle East Technical University in Turkey and Virginia Tech. He served as science education program coordinator, assistant coordinator for CAEP accreditation, and interim department chair, before he became the department chair for Teacher Education, and Counseling, Foundations, and Leadership Department. His research interests include science teacher education, scientific inquiry and practices, evolution education.


Dr. Clayton Nicks is the Chair of the Department of Kinesiology and Health Sciences and Associate Professor of Exercise Science. He began his career at Columbus State University in 2005 after completing his Ph.D. from Middle Tennessee State University. Since that time he has taught numerous courses in the Exercise Science undergraduate and graduate programs including Exercise Physiology, Kinesmetrics, Kinesiology, Research Methods, and many more. He’s maintained an active research agenda as well as serving on a variety of committees at all levels of the university.


Dr. Parul Acharya is an Assistant Professor in the Counseling, Foundations & Leadership Department in the College of Education & Health Professions. She earned a Ph.D. in Educational Statistics with majors in Quantitative Research Methods, Psychometrics, Program Evaluation & minors in Data Mining from University of Central Florida. She earned a Master’s of Business Administration degree with majors in Finance & I/O psychology, Master’s degree in Public Health Policy, and a Master’s and Bachelor’s degree in Health Science. She has several years experience in accountability, assessment and evaluation in higher education and PK-12 school system.


Dr. Eli Jones is now an Assistant Professor of Research in the Counseling, Foundations & Leadership Department. He holds a  PhD in Educational Inquiry, Measurement, and Evaluation from Brigham Young University. Previously, he served as a postdoctoral researcher in teacher evaluation and educational measurement at the University of Missouri, where he worked on a statewide teacher evaluation outreach unit, the Network for Educator Effectiveness.  He also taught courses in statistics at Columbia College.  His past educational experiences include working with district leadership to evaluate the effectiveness of educational interventions and assessments, and teaching second grade at a French dual-language immersion program.  He is married and has five sons.


Peter Anderson is joining CSU as the Director of the Columbus Regional Mathematics Collaborative.  During his 30-year career as a high school mathematics teacher and coach, he was consistently successful with students in a wide variety of mathematics classes, from Advanced Placement to Fundamentals of Algebra.  Peter has received multiple awards including a Teacher of Excellence in Mathematics by the Georgia Council of Teachers of Mathematics and Star Teacher and Teacher of the Year.  He has worked for over 20 years as a consultant, strengthening teacher content knowledge in mathematics from elementary to high school.  He earned a Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction from LaGrange College and an undergraduate degree from the University of South Alabama.


Dr. Toland has over eight years’ experience in academia and has educated and advised students enrolled in Public Health, Health Care Administration, and Health Science programs. Her areas of expertise are in disease prevention, mental health, and substance abuse. Additionally; Dr. Toland has over 17 years of practical experience working in the areas of public and community health while earning her degrees and teaching in higher education.

Dr. Toland holds a Doctorate of Health Education in 2012 from A.T. Still University, a Clinical Master of Social Work degree from Troy University and a BS in Heath Science and an MPA from Columbus State University.


Dr. Toni Franklin, Ph.D is an Assistant Professor of Special Education in the Teacher Education Department at Columbus State University.  She earned her Doctorate degree in Special Education from Auburn University. Prior to coming to higher education, she taught for 12 years in the public schools as a special education teacher and an elementary general education teacher. Dr. Franklin’s areas of research interest include preparation and support of new Special Education Teachers, inclusion of Students with Disabilities in the general education classroom, and post-secondary educational opportunities for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities.


Dr. Tugce Gul is a Visiting Professor of Science Education at CSU. She holds a Ph.D. in Science Education and Post-Master’s Certificate in Qualitative Research in Education from Georgia State University, as well as a B.S.Ed. and a M.Ed. in Elementary Education from Ege University in her hometown of Izmir, Turkey. In addition to her experience as an elementary and middle school teacher, she has worked as a Postdoctoral Teaching Associate at University of West Florida. She has four publications, two book chapters, and three peer-reviewed journal manuscripts under review to date, and she has made presentations nationally and internationally.


Dr. Anna Hart will serve as Assistant Professor of Teacher Leadership as well as the program coordinator for the M.Ed. in Teacher Leadership program.  She is a graduate of Kennesaw State University’s Doctor of Teacher Leadership program.  She began her career in education as a classroom teacher and later transitioned to a public-school educator as a faculty member at Dalton State College.  In addition to teaching a number of undergraduate courses in Dalton State’s teacher education program, she also served as Coordinator of Special Projects for the Dalton State School of Education.


Shannon Lewis holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Elementary Education from the University of Georgia, a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Columbus College and a Specialist degree in Elementary Education from Troy State University.   She taught first grade at Georgetown Elementary in Muscogee County for six years and has served as a resource teacher for the Columbus Regional Math Collaborative.  She has also taught part-time and in temporary full time positions for the College of Education and Health Professions, teaching courses ranging from reading, social studies, children’s literature and math methods.


Mark D. McCarthy is joining the Department of Teacher Education at Columbus State University as Assistant Professor of Literacy Education. He completed his undergraduate degree in English from St. John’s University in New York and his M.A. in Education through Michigan State University’s online education program, in which he would later go on to teach as a doctoral student at Michigan State.. He has taught internationally in South Korea, Oman, and China at the primary, secondary, and college levels. He specializes in literacy education.


Kalynn Hall Pistorio is a Holmes Scholar who holds a doctorate in exceptional student education (special education) from Florida Atlantic University and a master’s in leadership from Nova Southeastern University. She was previously a teacher in an Title 1 elementary school working in a classroom for children with intellectual disabilities and she has worked as a preschool teacher. She has published multiple papers in a variety of journals and has done more than 25 presentations at national and international conferences.


Dr. Marguerite Lawrence retired at the rank of US Army Lieutenant Colonel after 20 years of dedicated active duty service.  Dr. Lawrence holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from East Stroudsburg University, a Master of Science in Nursing with specialization as a Family Nurse Practitioner and Public Health Clinical Nurse Specialist from the University of Virginia and a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree at the University of Alabama. For the past 5 years, Dr. Lawrence maintained her academic status as adjunct professor of nursing at the Uniformed Services University, Daniel K. Inouye Graduate School of Nursing, Bethesda, Maryland. She maintains a clinical practice with the Veteran’s Administration.


Shea McCarthy is a certified family nurse practitioner with the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Columbus State University and a Master of Science in Nursing from Auburn University. She comes to CSU from Reinhardt University in Waleska, GA , where she was an Assistant Professor of Nursing. She also holds a Bachelor of Fine Art in Photography from the Savannah College of Art and Design.


Brooke Thompson earned a BSN from Columbus State University in 2002 and MSN from Regis University in 2012. She has also earned her certification in Inpatient Obstetrics and is a certified fetal monitoring instructor through AWHONN. Professional experience revolves around maternal-child nursing with 16 years of experience in Labor and Delivery. Her previous teaching experience includes 12 years of OB clinical rotations with 10 of those being with CSU. She has also served as a part-time educator with the hospital.


Dr. Deryus J. Tillman is originally from Augusta, Georgia. He received his Bachelors of Science in Nursing from Georgia Southern University in 2011, Masters of Nursing Science with a focus on nursing administration from Jacksonville University in 2014 and most recently in 2017 his Doctorate in Nursing Practice from South University. He has been a nurse for seven years, with a practice focus in critical care. For the last four years, he has been working in academia.  His research interest is focused on simulation and technology integration into the nursing curriculum and its impact on knowledge synthesis and acquisition.




Gordon H. Hurley, Jr., served as an FBI Special Agent for over 30 years. For 28 years, Hurley was an FBI Crisis Negotiator and since 1998, the Atlanta Division’s Crisis Negotiation Team Leader. He is an FBI Academy Adjunct Instructor and a Georgia POST Certified Instructor. Hurley also served multiple tours embedded with U.S. military units in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and other overseas duty stations in the fight against Al Qaeda and ISIS. Hurley was an FBI Resident Agent and assigned a broad range of investigative responsibilities including violent crimes, public corruption, and counterterrorism. Hurley possesses a Master’s Degree in Public Administration (MPA) and is also a graduate of the FBI National Academy (FBINA 260th session). Prior to becoming an FBI Special Agent, Hurley served with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office in Tampa, Fl.


Dr. Annice Yarber-Allen joins the College of Letters and Science as Professor and Chair of the Department of Criminal Justice and Sociology. She earned a Ph.D. in Medical Sociology from the University of Alabama, Birmingham and a Masters in Social Work from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Yarber-Allen has served twice as principal investigator for a National Science Foundation funded effort and was a recipient of a prestigious Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad to implement the Summer Institute on the Welfare of Women of Belize project.


Dr. Allen Gee earned his B.A. in Secondary English Teaching from the University of New Hampshire, an M.F.A. in Fiction Writing from the University of Iowa Writers Workshop, and his Ph.D. in Creative Writing and English Literature from the University of Houston.  He’s the author of the essay collection, My Chinese-America, and is writer James Alan McPherson’s designated biographer.  Allen is currently completing a novel, The Iron Road that chronicles the lives of Chinese railroad workers building the Central Pacific line in 1866.  He’s taught from 2004-2018 at Georgia College where he served as coordinator for the Creative Writing program’s undergraduate concentration and the M.F.A. program, as well as directing the college’s visiting writers series.  He’s been the Editor of the literary journal Gulf Coast, Fiction Editor for the literary journal Arts & Letters, and is currently the Editor of the multicultural imprint 2040 Books.  At CSU, Allen will teach various courses, and as the Donald L. Jordan Endowed Professor of Creative Writing, he’ll lead service trips abroad, run an annual national writing competition, and organize a writing conference to be held every two to three years.


Christopher J. Matthews is originally a native of New Orleans, Louisiana, and came to the Columbus by way of Fort Benning. He is a former student of The New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts (NOCCA) and a graduate of Xavier University of Louisiana, where he majored in Art, and minored in Mass Communications. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Art from Xavier University of Louisiana in 1994. He is a writer, and a visual artist who specializes in Painting and Drawing, a U.S. Army veteran, and a reservist with the U.S. Air Force. He earned Master’s degrees in Education at Columbus State University in 2006 and 2008 respectively, with concentrations in Art Education and English Language Arts. He earned his Education Specialist degree in English from Columbus State University in 2015.


Dr. Bryan Banks earned his MA (2011) and PhD (2014) in History from Florida State University. He specializes in French History, with special interests in the Enlightenment and French Revolution, as well as religious studies. Prior to Columbus State University, he was Assistant Professor of History at SUNY Adirondack. He joins the Department of History and Geography as Assistant Professor of European History. He will teach introductory courses in World History and advanced courses on Early Modern and Modern European History.


Dr. Saerim Kim joins the Department of Politics, Philosophy, and Public Administration, where she will teach public budgeting and financial management, introduction to public administration, and nonprofit management. She holds a Ph.D. in public policy and administration at the Martin School of Public Policy and Administration at the University of Kentucky in Lexington and a master’s degree in public policy from Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University, Atlanta. Her dissertation was selected for a doctoral fellowship by the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA) in 2017. She also received ARNOVA’s Emerging Scholar Award in 2016.


Prof. Humberto Caspa grew up in Quime, a small town in La Paz, Bolivia.  He is the 2018 Elena Diaz-Verson Amos Eminent Scholar in Latin American Studies at CSU.  Prof. Caspa taught at the School of Law at Juan de Castellanos University.  His book on immigration, Terror in the Latino Barrio: The rise of the new right in local government (2008), gives some clues about the emergence of a new right-wing movement in U.S. politics.  He publishes weekly editorials on current political and social issues in some of the most important U.S. Spanish newspapers and has appeared as guest political analyst in both major Spanish television networks: Univision and Telemundo.


Dr. Tiffany Berzins joins the Department of Psychology this fall, where she will teach courses in her content areas and research methods & analysis. She holds a Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Texas at San Antonio, with concentrations in Social Psychology and Quantitative Research Methods. After earning her degree, she went on to complete a postdoctoral fellowship in the Social-Health Psychology program at Kent State University. Her training and interests lie in interpersonal relationships and behavioral medicine in disease prevention and management.



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CSU Department of Communication Hosts Premiere of Still

The Columbus State University Department of Communication is hosting the Columbus premiere of the movie, Still, on August 23 at 7 p.m. in the Rainey-McCullers School of the Arts Auditorium. Following the screening, the audience will be able to interact in a Q&A session with writer and director Takashi Doscher, producer Craig Miller, and CSU students who served as production assistants on the set.

STILL is the first production resulting from the CSU Department of Communication’s partnership with the Georgia Film Academy. More than a dozen students worked on the set as production assistants, and the movie was filmed at Sweet Home Plantation in Harris County. Since its release, Still has won several awards – including the prestigious Georgia Award at the Atlanta Film Festival.

For more information about the premiere, click here.

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CSU Provides More Opportunities for Dual Enrollment Students

Columbus State University’s is expanding offerings for its tuition-free Dual Enrollment Program as more teens discover the benefits of taking college courses while still in high school.

Dual Enrollment is a state-sponsored program that allows students at eligible high schools to take approved college-level coursework for credit toward both high school and college graduation requirements. Through the program, students routinely earn enough credits for an associate’s degree before finishing high school. There are no tuition costs for students accepted into the program.

At Columbus State University, students now have access to more than 100 different courses a year.

“We continue to look for ways to better serve students and parents interested in dual enrollment,” said Tina Butcher, CSU’s associate provost. “Many students come onto campus, but this fall we are also teaching several courses at Harris County High School, and at least one at St. Anne-Pacelli High School.”

The program has grown in recent years.

“Parents are often a driver for this when they understand how significant the cost-savings can be,” Butcher said. “There is still time for students to sign up for this program. They simply need contact the guidance counselor at their school to learn more.”

For more information, see

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Columbus State University Men’s Basketball Team Plans Trip to Costa Rica

The Columbus State University men’s basketball team will kick off the 2018-2019 academic year with a trip to Costa Rica. Ten team members, including three new players, will head abroad on the first-of-its-kind trip on Aug. 5. The team’s itinerary includes a series of international and college games, as well as volunteer work to teach a youth basketball camp and revitalize a school.

“This is a way that we can find out about our team early on,” said Robert Moore, head men’s basketball coach. “It is about getting our guys together to see how they bond. It will also be a great experience for them. We try to teach them, not just about basketball, but about life.”

The trip has mostly been funded with donations from local businesses and supporters. Donations for travel expenses can still be made here.

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Columbus State offers three-day Cyber Security Workshop to Local High School Students

Columbus State University will host “Cyber Summer” on July 23 – 25. The free workshop, open to students in grades 9th through 12th, is designed to inspire the next generation of cybersecurity professionals.

CSU’s TSYS School of Computer Science will offer classes in digital forensics, cryptography and cyber challenges. Activities will include networking, a scavenger hunt, a cyber-themed escape room, digital forensics, information on cybersecurity careers and education paths, and a corporate tour.

The workshop is free, but space is limited. Interested students must apply here. For more information, contact Michael Barker, director of the TSYS Cybersecurity Center at

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Columbus Interactive Media Fest Offers Glimpse at the South’s Game Industry

Columbus State University will host the third annual Columbus Interactive Media Fest on Saturday, July 14. The event will feature keynote speakers, networking, and lunch with professionals in the gaming industry and those interested in a career in the field.

“We have seen a significant interest in both digital entertainment and video game development from the Columbus area. CIMFest is the perfect opportunity for students and professional developers alike to increase their skills and reach. Anyone interested in game development would benefit from going,” said Andrew Greenberg, Executive Director of the Georgia Game Developers Association.

The celebration of the South’s game and simulation developers will feature guest speakers like Chris Patterson, owner of Bricks and Minifigs in Columbus; Jesse James Allen, editorial director at Falcon’s Creative Group, a theme park and interactive design studio in Orlando; and Joe Cassavaugh, the CEO, designer and engineer of Puzzles by Joe.

“There has always been a lot of interest here in Columbus for making games,” said Rod Obando, CIMFest Director and student records specialist at CSU. “We created CIMFest to not only give local game developers a place to showcase what they have created but also to attract industry experts to share their knowledge and skills.”

The event will be held in CSU Davidson Center on main campus from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tickets are $15 or $10 for students and CSU alumni. Click here to register.

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Local Businesses Provide Suits to Veterans through Columbus State University’s Military Enrollment Office

Dusty Amenta, an Army veteran and accounting major at Columbus State University, recently received a full professional makeover, thanks to JCPenney and CSU’s military enrollment office.

“This is greatly welcomed!” said Amenta. “As a mom and an Army wife, it has taken me eight years to graduate. I haven’t had much time to do things like this.”

Amenta, who will graduate in December, received a free suit, shoes, haircut, and makeup makeover from JCPenney as part of CSU’s Suits for Veterans program. She was shown the royal treatment at JCPenney. Staff escorted her around the store, helping her select the perfect suit and ensuring she made it to her to appointments at the salon and makeup counter. Amenta’s friends even joined in on the effort to make Amenta’s day extra special; they watched Amenta’s daughter so she could enjoy her makeover.

The experience was coordinated by CSU’s office of military enrollment, a department at CSU that is focused on serving the needs of military-affiliated students.

“We strive to do whatever we can to help our military-affiliated students have a smooth college experience,” said Susan Lovell, Director of Military Enrollment at CSU. “One of the frequent issues that we hear is our students do not have suits for graduation or job interviews. We’ve reached out to businesses in the community and have found that they are more than happy to help our military families as they prepare for their next step.”

Chancellors, E&S Suit Warehouse, and JCPenney have all donated suits for the new program. So far, six military-affiliated students have received suits.

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16 Students Attend CSU CCSSC Camps with Support from Pratt & Whitney

Sixteen students from Muscogee County School District are enhancing their skills in science, technology, engineering, and math at Columbus State University Coca Cola Space Science Center (CCSSC) summer camps, thanks to a generous donation from Pratt & Whitney.

“We are happy to partner with Pratt & Whitney on this important program,” said Dr. Shawn Cruzen, Executive Director of the CCSSC. “We believe our core mission includes making new opportunities for local students to train for, and access, careers in science and engineering, which this effort fits perfectly.”

The camps – “Space Robotics” for ages 10-13 and “Drone Engineering” for ages 14-16 – provide youth with the hands-on STEM experiences to equip them with practical problem-solving skills that make them more competitive for the technical workforce. Pratt & Whitney sponsored scholarships for 16 students. Participating students were selected from local schools based on applications and teacher recommendations.

Held June 18-22, Space Robotics camp allowed campers to build robots using controllers, sensors, actuators, radio communications and power supplies. Drone Engineering camp, which began on Monday and continues through Friday, is an advanced camp that provides a more challenging experience for campers to learn how to design, build, and operate a quad copter using 3D designing software, 3D printers, soldering irons and more.

“At Pratt & Whitney, we are focused on innovation and performance – it’s how we develop, manufacture and maintain the world’s best and most advanced aircraft engines. We support programs like Space Robotics Camp and Drone Engineering Camp to help develop the next generation of STEM leaders,” Tom Bode, General Manager, Pratt & Whitney Columbus Engine Center.

Funding for the students’ summer camp tuition was provided as part of a larger donation from Pratt & Whitney to the CCSSC. The donation will also allow CCSSC to add a new planetarium show this fall.

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Columbus State University to host Republican Gubernatorial Run-Off Debate on July 5

COLUMBUS, Ga. — A Republican Gubernatorial Run-Off Debate will be held on Thursday, July 5 at 7 p.m. in University Hall at Columbus State University. Candidates Lt. Governor Casey Cagle and Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp will face off in the hour-long debate.

The debate, which will be televised live and open to the public, is part of an ongoing series of political forums hosted by Columbus State in partnership with WRBL-TV and PMB Broadcasting. AFLAC and TSYS are sponsoring the series. WRBL Anchor Phil Scoggins will moderate the debate. A panel made up of WRBL reporters, a political science professor from CSU and a representative of student media at CSU will question the candidates. In addition, WRBL’s Teresa Whitaker will pose questions to the candidates submitted via social media and from the live audience at University Hall. CSU communication students will assist in the production of the telecasts.

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Columbus State Ranked as Top Online Cybersecurity Master’s Program

Columbus State University was recently recognized by as offering one of the best online master’s in cyber crime programs. Upon reviewing all accredited online master’s in cybercrime degree programs, ranked CSU as No. 38 in the country.

CSU’s online master’s of applied science with a concentration in cybersecurity is a 30 to 34 credit hour program with coursework in computer network and management, software testing and quality assurance, and applied crytography.

To learn more about CSU’s online master’s of applied science with a concentration in cybersecurity, click here. To read the review from, click here.

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Columbus State University Announces 2018-2019 Presidential Envoys

Columbus, Ga. — Columbus State University has announced the names of 16 student leaders who will serve as 2018-2019 Presidential Envoys. The group of high-achieving students from across campus will represent the university at some of its most important events.

Six of the Presidential Envoy members are returning from last year, after serving in the university’s inaugural group of envoys. The primary purpose of the initiative is to develop future alumni leadership and to assist the Office of the President, the Office of Alumni Engagement and Special Events, and University Advancement. These representatives will give their perspective on the CSU student experience to trustees, alumni, and community leaders. The program also provides an opportunity for professional development in organizational leadership for these students chosen as Presidential Envoys.

Representing a variety of majors and backgrounds, the student leaders will serve as the face of the CSU student body at events such as CSU Foundation Board of Trustee meetings, Tower Society Gala, Presidential Receptions, and the President’s Recognition Dinner & Scholarship Banquet. The group of Presidential Envoys are:

  • Hannah Kick (President): Junior, Early Childhood Education, Columbus, GA
  • Gabriel Bello (VP of Leadership): Senior, Computer Science – Cybersecurity, Miami, FL.
  • Jianan  Britt: Graduate Student, MPA , Providence, RI
  • Crystal Burlison: Junior, Marketing, Jonesboro, GA
  • Zari Elliott: Junior, Early Childhood Education, Greensboro, NC
  • Whitney Henderson: Senior, Early Childhood Education, Landover Hills, MD
  • Jennifer Kolwicz: Senior, Biology, Columbus, GA
  • Stephanie Kolwicz: Graduate Student, Health & Physical Education, Columbus, GA
  • Alexis Knox: Graduate Student, MSOL, Commerce, GA
  • Abby Grace Moore (VP of Communication & Membership): Junior, Biology, Thomaston, GA
  • Elijah Neundorfer: Sophomore, Computer Science – Cybersecurity, Newnan, GA
  • Joshua Richmond: Junior, Art, Cordele, GA
  • Anju Shajan: Sophomore, Accounting, Columbus, GA
  • Matthias Smith: Junior, History & Art History, Phenix City, AL
  • Sydney White: Sophomore, Nursing, Columbus, GA
  • Chase Worthey: Senior, Music Education – Vocal, Bainbridge, GA
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Columbus State Ranked in Top 10 for Online Master’s in Science Education Programs

Columbus State University was recently recognized by as offering one of the best online master’s in science education programs. Upon reviewing all accredited online Master’s in Science Education degree programs, ranked CSU as No. 8 in the country.

CSU’s online Master of Arts in Teaching program with concentrations in math, biology, chemistry, physics, earth/space science, or computer science is targeted to career changers who are interested in entering the teaching profession and who possess the prerequisite educational background in a related field.

The 39 credit master’s degree includes coursework in classroom management, knowledge of students, and methods in teaching secondary science. Students also complete in-classroom teaching with either a teaching internship or student teaching course.

To learn more about CSU’s online M.A.T.  program, please click here. To read the review from, please click here.

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CSU Students Recognized for Work on Award-Winning Film

Columbus State University students were recently recognized on stage at the Atlanta Film Festival for their work on the production of an award-winning film.

Still, a modern suspense drama that was shot in Columbus, made its world debut to sold-out audiences at the Atlanta Film Festival and received the Georgia Award, an honor that recognizes the best film produced in Georgia. During the award’s presentation, the film’s director, Takashi Doscher recognized 12 interns from the CSU Communication Department’s Georgia Film Academy certificate program.

As part of their internship course credit requirements, the CSU students served as on-set film crew members for the production of the film. Typically, students must travel to Atlanta to complete their internship requirements, but CSU Associate Vice President for Engagement and Economic Development Richard Baxter and Communication Department Chair Danna Gibson helped to recruit the film to Columbus. The effort was the first of many initiatives from the Georgia Film Academy, Columbus State University’s Communication Department, and the Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau Film Office to provide training and education to a new generation of Georgia filmmakers in CSU’s film production program.

Still stars Lydia Wilson from Star Trek Beyond, Nick Blood from Agents of SHIELD, and Madeline Brewer from Orange is the New Black and is financed by Matthew Murdoch and Joshua Dent. The producers are Craig Miller, Gabrielle Pickle, Takashi Doscher, and Alex Creasia. The film is set in present-day Georgia, where a young hiker stumbles onto an isolated farm after losing her way on the Appalachian Trail. She is taken in and cared for by a strange but beautiful couple who appear desperate to protect a centuries-old secret hidden deep in the mountains.

In addition to its Atlanta Film Festival debut, Still screened at the 2018 Nashville Film Festival and is submitted to the San Diego, Fantastic Fest, Hamptons International, Austin, Hawaii, Flickers’ Rhode Island, Los Angeles Film Fest, New Orleans, Napa Valley, and Maine festivals.

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Local Teachers to Bring Cyber-Security to Schools after CSU Workshop

This week Columbus State University’s TSYS School of Computer Science is hosting a workshop to provide a select group of local teachers with the skills and knowledge they need to bring cybersecurity curricula into their schools.

“I wanted to learn about cybersecurity because it is a highly needed area,” said Chris Lovelock, workshop attendee and technology and engineering teacher at Double Churches Middle School. “It has been a lot of information in a short period of time, and it has been good to network with other teachers.”

Lovelock is one of the 20 teachers selected for the first-of-its-kind program, after more than 70 local educators applied. Most of the participating teachers have a background in science, technology, engineering, or math. However, for a few attendees – like Decarlos Hughley, a physical education coach at Double Churches Middle School, – the workshop is an introduction to cybersecurity.

“It is not something you can’t learn,” said Hughley. “As a teacher, you have to keep learning, and this is something you need to know.”

Led by CSU professors Dr. Lixin Wang and Dr. Yesem Peker, the workshop engages attendees in hands-on activities that enhance knowledge and skills in cybersecurity. Participating teachers receive a complete set of teaching materials for high school and middle school cybersecurity courses, a cybersecurity training certificate, and a $600 stipend.

Stephen Childers, workshop attendee and Harris County High School computer science teacher, says that the workshop has provided him with valuable resources that he will begin using as early as next week when he hosts his own cybersecurity camp for students.

“I’ve been working with TSYS to create bridges between industry and students,” said Childers. “I can already see tons of applications for how this can be used in the classroom.”

The workshop is sponsored by a grant from GenCyber, a jointly funded effort by the National Security Agency and the National Science Foundation. This is the first GenCyber workshop for teachers that CSU has hosted; although the university offered a GenCyber camp for middle school students last year.

With a mission to grow and improve cybersecurity education in the United States, GenCyber seeks to increase interest in cybersecurity careers, help students understand safe online behavior, and improve teaching methods for cybersecurity content. CSU’s GenCyber workshop continues through Friday.

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CSU’s Carson McCullers Center Announces New Writing Fellow

Columbus State University’s Carson McCullers Center for Writers and Musicians recently announced Aimee Bobruk, a Texas-based singer-songwriter, as the winner of the 13th annual Marguerite and Lamar Smith Fellowship for Writers. As the fellowship recipient, Bobruk will live and work in Carson McCullers’s childhood home, the Smith-McCullers House, this fall.

Aimee Bobruk is an independent songwriter whose music straddles the genres of American folk and alternative rock. Most notably, her self-titled /ba.’brook/ was selected by Texas Music magazine as one of top six indie albums released in the state in 2013 and her work as been called “nothing short of a work of art” by Performing Songwriter.

In addition to writing and performing her own songs, Bobruk collaborates with songwriters and producers worldwide in the publishing industry. To date, her co-writes have earned her seven European title tracks, two of which were nominated for Grammy Awards in Germany and Norway. In 2015, her pop co-write “Black Swan,” competed in Melodifestivalen to represent Sweden at the international Eurovision Song Contest.

Bobruk has been engaged in three distinctive endeavors this year. In the spring, she embarked on a motorcycle ride along the Texas/Mexico border to capture a snapshot of life and culture for her self-produced documentary, The Texas Border Project. In the studio she reunites with avant-garde punk rock producer, Brian Beattie (Daniel Johnston, Okkervil River, Bill Callahan), and percussionist, Dony Wynn (Robert Palmer, Robert Plant), to tackle two conceptual EPs—one inspired by the writings of her favorite author, Carson McCullers, and the other by the history of the Mississippi River. Be it film or music, much of her inspiration derives from literature, film, and nature. Themes in her songwriting include, solitude, identity, surrealism, separation, elopement, and love’s illusions.

Some of Bobruk’s performance highlights include sharing the stage with the likes of Dr. John, Ian McLagan (The Faces, Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan) Butch Hancock, Alejandro Escovedo, Freedy Johnston, Ruthie Foster, and Thao and The Get Down Stay Down.

During her residency, Bobruk will live and work at the Smith-McCullers House from September to December 2018. While in Columbus, she intends to work on completing her EP of songs based on the work of Carson McCullers.

Named in honor of Carson’s parents, The Marguerite and Lamar Smith Fellowship for Writers was inspired by McCullers’s experience at the Breadloaf Writer’s Conference in Vermont and, especially, the Yaddo Arts Colony in Saratoga Springs, New York. To honor the contribution of these residency fellowships to McCullers’s work, the Carson McCullers Center for Writers and Musicians awards fellowships for writers to spend time in McCullers’s childhood home in Columbus, Georgia. The fellowships are intended to afford the writers in residence uninterrupted time to dedicate to their work, free from the distractions of daily life and other professional responsibilities.

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Columbus State Claims PBC Commissioner’s Cup

HILTON HEAD, S.C. – The Columbus State University athletic department claimed its sixth Peach Belt Conference Commissioner’s Cup, handed out Tuesday night at the annual awards dinner.

The Cup is presented annually to the best overall athletic department based on regular-season standings and select championships. The Cougars captured 88.5 of a possible 119 points available to them based on the number of sports sponsored. The .744 rating was .014 more than second-place North Georgia, the closest margin since 2010.

The PBC Commissioner’s Cup is determined by calculating the number of points possible to each school, given the number of sports they participate in, divided by the number of points earned during the year. Points are determined by placement in the final regular-season standings in each of the PBC’s 15 championship sports.

Columbus State is now the all-time leader in Commissioner’s Cup wins, breaking a tie with North Florida. The Cougars claimed the top spot in 2005-06, 2006-07, 2007-08, 2010-11 and 2015-16 prior to bringing the trophy back home this season.

“With so many of our teams having had outstanding seasons, winning the 2017-18 PBC Commissioner’s Cup is recognition of our entire athletic department’s commitment to competitive success,” Director of Athletics Todd Reeser said. “Our student-athletes, coaches and athletic staff all take great pride in winning this award, and we are pleased and honored to bring it home to Columbus State University.”

Columbus State opened the season with a share of the regular season PBC championship in women’s soccer, however the Cougars were in fifth place in the standings after the fall semester.

CSU had a dominant spring semester, taking home the title in men’s and women’s tennis, while finishing top three in baseball, women’s basketball, men’s golf, softball and women’s basketball.

In total, 10 of Columbus State’s 13 programs that factor into the Commissioner’s Cup standings finished in the top half of their respective sports.

Columbus State’s success wasn’t limited to the conference level in 2017-18, with six programs qualifying for NCAA postseason action. Men’s tennis brought home the program’s first national championship, while baseball and women’s tennis each reached the final site. Women’s basketball, men’s golf and women’s soccer also reached the postseason.

The CSU baseball team is putting the finishing touches on the 2017-18 academic year at the Division II College World Series. The Cougars defeated Mercyhurst on Sunday and have UC San Diego on Tuesday night in their second game.

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CSU Class Honors a First-Year Teacher

A class in Columbus State University’s Early Childhood Education Program recently went the extra mile to help a new teacher feel appreciated and make a step towards increasing new teacher retention rates.

According to the Georgia Professional Standards Commission, forty-four percent of teachers leave the profession within the first five years of teaching. A survey by the Georgia Department of Education found that many teachers felt “undervalued.” In an effort to overcome these alarming statistics, one teacher at a time, a class in Columbus State University’s Early Childhood Education Program developed a plan.

The idea started when a group of Block 2 teacher candidates were discussing their desire to teach at a Title 1 school because schools such as these provide the biggest opportunity to make a difference. This conversation sparked an idea from the professor, Dr. Pam Wetherington, to show the class an episode of Mike Rowe’s Facebook show, ‘Returning the Favor.’

The professor had seen the episode the evening prior and felt that this particular episode was relevant in terms of the class discussion. The episode was about a teacher who heavily influenced a struggling high school student, and that student later grew up to make a career out of encouraging students to read while integrating physical fitness. “The episode was very touching, and the class was deeply affected,” said Kylie Whitten.

After some discussion, two teacher candidates proposed they do something similar in terms of returning the favor by recognizing a first-year teacher who is doing an amazing job and making a difference with his/her students. The class researched various first-year teachers in the surrounding school districts and voted to recognize a first year teacher at Key Elementary in Columbus, GA.

“We chose Brittany James because she is a recent graduate from CSU’s Early Childhood Education Program, and we know how stressful it can be going through the program. We also chose Ms. James because we learned how she invests her own resources to help her students. Lastly, we wanted to honor a first year teacher that worked at a Title 1 school since our plan was developed out of the idea of working in a Title 1 school,” said Callie Hampton.

Throughout the development of the Be the One project, the teacher candidates met weekly during the spring 2018 semester on their own time to work within their sub-committees (i.e., fundraising, public relations, curriculum, and celebration).

On May 14, 2018, CSU’s Early Childhood Education teacher candidates presented Ms. James and Key Elementary with school supplies, clothes, STEM science kits, snacks, and more.

Ms. Brittany James was surprised to learn she was being recognized by this group of teacher candidates and said, “I do it to make them [students] better, and I didn’t know people paid attention to me and knew of me, and that I was making a difference in the school system.”

Those involved in the inaugural Be the One project were-

Teacher Candidates:

  • Rebekah Cherry
  • Erica Culpepper
  • Alexzandrea Gant
  • Brooke Grantham
  • Callie Hampton
  • Taylor Lanier
  • Iesha McCrory
  • Jonah Montgomery
  • Pam Moore
  • Chelsea Mounts
  • Madison Pinet
  • Mia Rankins
  • Chelsey Reid
  • Stephanie Simmons
  • Kylie Whitten
  • Gina Williams
  • Elisabeth Wilson



  • Barbara Rouse
  • Pam Wetherington
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Army Commissioning Ceremony Held at Columbus State

Five cadets from Columbus State University’s Army ROTC Cougar Battalion are now commissioned officers in the U.S. Army.

The cadets took their oath of office, administered by Brig. Gen. Christopher T. Donahue, the former U.S. Army Infantry School commandant, at a Commissioning Ceremony on May 18.  The new officers were also administered the oath of office by LTC Carlos Lock during their commencement ceremonies.

Below is a list of the new officers and their degrees.

  • William Akoo, Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice
  • Ashley Barnett, Bachelor of Science in Sociology
  • Timothy Brown, Bachelor of Business Administration Management
  • Savannah Miller, Bachelor of Arts in Mathemathics
  • Allen Ransom, Bachelor of Science in Psychology
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CSU Announces Winners of 7th Annual Business Plan Competition

Columbus State University’s Turner College of Business recently awarded three aspiring entrepreneurs with funding to launch their own businesses. The recipients were the winners of CSU’s 7th annual Business Plan Competition, which is open to both students and members of the community.

Out of the 31 business plans submitted to the competition this year, the judges selected Kimberly Presley as the 2018 winner and recipient of a $3,000 prize. Presley, a current CSU student, proposed a new shooting target that is safer than the traditional clay targets used by most recreational shooters. Not only is Presley’s product biodegradable, but it is also edible. The judges were impressed with the creativity and long-term profit potential of producing and selling biodegradable shooting targets.

Additional prizes were also awarded to the second place winner, Victor Feliciano, and third place winner, Nathan Carr. Feliciano is the founder of Vicinity Tours, a guided touring company for the Columbus area. Carr is the owner of SonicAirflow, and his product, AirJet, is a patent pending twin turbo fan that regulates the temperature in large areas like warehouses.

The winners of the 7th annual business plan competition were announced at a luncheon in the Schuster Center last week.  Kirk Heriot, professor of management and the Ray and Evelyn Crowley Endowed Chair of Entrepreneurship, presented the checks. The competition, which is open to both students and members of community, is hosted by CSU’s Turner College of Business.

The business plan competition was created in 2012 by Dr. Kirk Heriot who holds the Crowley Chair in Entrepreneurship.  Prize winners from previous years have gone on to start new businesses based on the plans that they entered into the competition.

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