New Miss CSU to be Crowned Saturday

COLUMBUS, Ga. — Columbus State University will crown a new Miss CSU Saturday, Jan. 21 at 7 p.m. in University Hall on CSU’s main campus.

“Miss CSU 2017 will serve the campus for the next year and advocate for her platform while representing CSU at campus and community events,” said Melissa Dempsey, director of student life. “She will also compete and represent CSU at Miss Georgia this June.”

Individuals from a variety of majors and with a diverse set of talents make up this year’s competition. They include:


Abby Bradshaw. Abby is a sophomore majoring in communication. Her platform is “Aiding the Generations,” and her talent is singing.
Danesha Evans. Danesha is a junior majoring in performance. Her platform is “Suicide Prevention,” and her talent is monologue.
Shaikeria Hill. Shaikeria is a sophomore majoring in early childhood education. Her platform is “Scoliosis Awareness,” and her talent is monologue.
Lexus Houston. Lexus is a senior majoring in middle grades education. Her platform is “Embrace Your Inner Sparkle,” and her talent is singing.
Quadasia Love. Quadasia is a senior majoring in biology. Her platform is “Bridging the Gaps of Cultural Diversity,” and her talent is dancing.
Kaylynn Watkins-McCoy. Kaylynn is a senior majoring in criminal justice. Her platform is “Women’s Empowerment Post Sexual Assault,” and her talent is monologue.
Chelsey Rogers. Chelsey is a senior majoring in political science and business. Her platform is “Advocacy,” and her talent is dancing.
Kewanna Taylor. Kewanna is a junior majoring in middle grades education. Her platform is “Finding One’s Self and Embracing Who You Are,” and her talent is singing.

“Being Miss CSU was the experience of a lifetime,” said Morgan Self, Miss CSU 2015. “From my Miss CSU welcome party to representing this university throughout the Columbus area, to competing in Miss Georgia, it was a year filled with many appearances and service opportunities that I will forever cherish.”

The winner of this year’s crowning achievement will share those same experiences throughout 2017.

“Winter Wonderland,” the 2017 Miss CSU Pageant, is open to the public. General admission is $10 or $5 for CSU students with ID. For more information visit

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CSU MBA Program Advances in U.S. News and World Report Rankings

best-online-programs-badgeCOLUMBUS, Ga. — Columbus State University’s online Master of Business Administration (MBA) program is ranked No. 33 in the nation, according to new rankings released Jan. 10 by U.S. News and World Report.

The program, offered by CSU’s D. Abbott Turner College of Business, jumped 29 spots from last year on the list of “Best Online MBA Programs,” making it one of the top two online MBA degree programs in Georgia, behind only Kennesaw State University.

“For the past two decades, our stakeholder groups have invested heavily to increase the quality of the academic programs offered by the Turner College of Business,” said Linda Hadley, dean of CSU’s Turner College of Business. “We achieved this first by obtaining AACSB initial accreditation in 2003. We are pleased now not only to be listed, but to have significantly advanced our placement in the rankings over the course of one year. This positions CSU’s online MBA as the second highest ranked program in the consortium, and we take great pride in the strong message that our performance sends to our current stakeholders as well as to prospective students, faculty and donors.”

U.S. News and World Report ranked each program using five categories: student engagement, admissions selectivity, peer reputation, faculty credentials and training, and student services and technology.

In 2016, CSU’s online MBA was ranked the No. 12 top global online MBA by CEO Magazine and the No. 12 most affordable MBA program by Top Management Degrees.

To view the full list of “Best Online MBA Programs” by U.S. News and World Report, visit

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Frank D. Brown Hall Officially Opens

COLUMBUS, Ga.At least 500 people showed up Friday, Jan. 6 to celebrate the official grand opening of Columbus State University’s Frank D. Brown Hall, a state-of-the-art teaching and research facility located in the heart of downtown Columbus.

The new 90,000-square-foot, $27 million building will serve as the new home for most of the university’s education programs and School of Nursing. It was named in honor of CSU’s third president, Frank D. Brown, who was  instrumental in the development of CSU’s RiverPark campus and in the revitalization of downtown Columbus.

Dr. Brown, and those people and partnerships he cultivated, are largely to credit for this transformation [in Uptown Columbus],” said CSU President Chris Markwood. “That’s why it is so fitting to have this building, now the ‘front door’ to CSU’s RiverPark campus, bear the name of CSU’s third President, Dr. Frank D. Brown.”

Other speakers agreed.

“You could not have picked a better namesake,” said Mayor Teresa Tomlinson during the ceremony.

Equipped with state-of-the-art simulation labs, a tiered 150-seat classroom and group learning spaces, Frank D. Brown Hall extends CSU’s downtown footprint, which now totals about one million square feet of space, including student housing, visiting professor apartments, performance facilities, classrooms, a dining center, bookstore, convenience store and continuing education space.

In the last decade, more than $125 million has been invested in downtown Columbus by, or on behalf of, CSU. The construction of Frank D. Brown Hall has spurred the redevelopment of the 1200 block of Broadway and will bring an additional 1,800 students, faculty and staff to the area by the start of classes on Monday, Jan. 9.

“This is a facility built for teaching,” said Brown during the ceremony. “What hangs on the outside of the building is not nearly as important as what goes on inside the building.”


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Markwood Named to 2017 List of 100 Most Influential Georgians

markwood_2015COLUMBUS, Ga. — Columbus State University President Chris Markwood was recently named one of Georgia’s most influential people by Georgia Trend Magazine, joining 99 other top leaders in the state, including politicians, CEOs and innovators in education.

This is Markwood’s first appearance on Georgia Trend’s list of “100 Most Influential Georgians” since he took the helm of CSU in June 2015. Since that time, CSU has received its first-ever patent, restored and opened Pasaquan and graduated its first class of film production students in partnership with the Georgia Film Academy, noted the editors of Georgia Trend in their profile on the president.

“There are great things happening at CSU every day, and this is a tribute to the role CSU is playing on a statewide scale,” said Markwood. “I am very honored by this distinction, but it is really a reflection of the work being done at Columbus State University by the faculty and staff here. It’s great to be part of this team.”

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CSU Police Officers Spread Holiday Cheer

COLUMBUS, Ga. — Cougars for Causes, an annual holiday collection drive spearheaded by Columbus State University Police, recently donated several thousand toys and more than a thousand pounds of food and personal items to non-profit organizations across the Chattahoochee Valley and children residing in local hospitals over the holidays.

Goods were donated by Circle K stores, Dollar General, Winchester Family Dentistry, and, of course, the CSU community.


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Synovus Invests in CSU Growth Through First Choice Campaign


COLUMBUS, Ga. – Synovus Financial Corp., headquartered in Columbus, has extended its investment in Columbus State University by participating in the university’s First Choice Campaign and providing long-term support to various programs, including business and leadership development.

Synovus’ multi-year commitment to the university will support CSU’s Turner College of Business, the Jim Blanchard Leadership Forum, and the new tennis complex at Cooper Creek Park. Synovus’ contributions will also support the construction of Frank D. Brown Hall on CSU’s RiverPark campus in downtown Columbus, the new home for many of CSU’s education and nursing programs currently under construction next door to Synovus’ corporate headquarters.

“We are extremely grateful for Synovus’ continued partnership with Columbus State University, and for their continued faith in our ability to have a positive impact on this community,” said CSU President Chris Markwood. “Synovus is one of the country’s most reputable banks. We are proud to be associated with them and even more proud they employ many of our alumni, including those in key executive leadership positions.”

Synovus has provided financial support, leadership and other resources to Columbus State for more than half a century. The company has been a lead sponsor since 2006 of the Jim Blanchard Leadership Forum, organized annually by CSU’s Leadership Institute. Synovus also supports CSU’s annual fund, Cougar Athletics, and the university’s Schwob School of Music, and allows its employees to volunteer in support of the university’s efforts.

“Columbus State University has been a vital part of life in this community for nearly 60 years, and we are proud to continue our longstanding support of our hometown and the university with this investment,” said Becky Rumer, Synovus’ chief administrative officer.

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Mixon Named New Director of CSU’s Command College

mixon-fullCOLUMBUS, Ga. — William “Billy” Mixon, a career law enforcement official who has spent 25 years in academy operations, has been named the new director of Columbus State University’s Command College.

Command College, a partnership between the university and the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police, provides a program of study that goes beyond what is currently available in public safety executive and management development courses, serving as a “graduate school” for public safety executives. Students earn professional development experience while also earning academic credit toward a master’s degree in a program that is distinctive, flexible, relevant and comprehensive.

Mixon has been serving as interim director of Command College since August.

He came to Columbus State University after spending 13 years as the Public Safety Training Manager at Columbus’ Georgia Public Safety Training Center. There, he supervised a professional staff in development, delivery, review and revision of statewide public safety training programs that involved about 70 adjunct instructors. A certified law enforcement officer since 1982, Mixon has been involved with public safety training for 25 years.

“Billy is the right person to lead Command College into its next phase,” said Dennis Rome, dean of CSU’s College of Letters and Sciences, the academic unit of the university that houses Command College. “We want to strengthen and expand upon the wonderful track record that’s already been established with Command College and the representatives from more than 300 different agencies around the country who have gone through the program.”

Since taking over the program, Mixon has met with various law enforcement officials and groups around the state to ensure the master’s degree, course offerings and Professional Management Program continue to serve the needs of state public safety personnel.

“It is a real honor to be leading Command College,” Mixon said. “From the dean to the university president to the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police Executive Board, there has been universal support for what we’re doing and where we’re planning to go.”

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Columbus State University Achieves Full Reaccreditation

COLUMBUS, Ga. – Columbus State University has been fully re-accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), a regional accrediting agency recognized by the United States Department of Education.

“Earning accreditation by SACSCOC is a formal stamp of approval for the university, our academic programs and the way we do business,” said CSU President Chris Markwood. “It took a tremendous amount of work to get to this point, and we should all be proud of this achievement.”

The re-accreditation review takes place every 10 years and is confirmation of CSU’s continued commitment to integrity and its capacity to provide effective programs and services based on agreed-upon accreditation standards.

When accreditation is awarded to an institution of higher education by SACSCOC, it means the institution has a mission appropriate to higher education, resources, programs and services sufficient to accomplish and sustain its mission, clearly specified educational objectives that are consistent with its mission and appropriate to the degrees it offers, and is successful in assessing its achievement of these objectives and demonstrating improvements.

“We had a lot of people involved in this process,” said Tina Butcher, CSU’s interim provost and vice president for academic affairs, who led the re-accreditation process. “My thanks go out to all the faculty and staff who made sure we met all the requirements that are spelled out in this rigorous process.”

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CSU and Middle Georgia State Team Up to Host Program for Leaders

COLUMBUS, Ga. – The Leadership Institute at Columbus State University and Middle Georgia State University have teamed up to host “How Deep is Your Bench? Leadership Excellence Certification for Rookie Leaders,” a series of programs for front-line managers and emerging leaders in Middle Georgia.

Beginning in January, sessions will be held on Middle Georgia State University’s Macon Campus, from 8 a.m. to noon, on the second Wednesday of each month.

In a 2014 survey by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, 77 percent of respondents said front-line managers are important in helping their organization reach business goals, yet only 12 percent said their organization currently invests sufficiently in the development of front-line managers. A lack of leadership development for front-line managers negatively impacts employee engagement productivity, quality, customer service and turnover, the report said. Because they are great workers, many front-line employees are promoted but many lack people-management skills and discover that achieving results through others is a challenge.

With interactive and entertaining sessions titled “Not Right or Wrong, Just Different,” “Working With You is Killing Me” and “Change is Good, You Go First,” attendees will learn relevant skills they can use in their professional and personal lives.

Participants can choose from individual sessions or attend them all. Individual sessions start at $159 each. The full program and Leadership Excellence Certification is $1,250, a savings of $418 versus purchasing individual sessions.

View the full program, including session descriptions and dates, and enroll your employees today at


About Leadership Institute at Columbus State University
The Leadership Institute at Columbus State University is a university-based consulting group that provides expertise and training in leadership development, team building, assessments, executive coaching and strategic planning. Founded in 2005, the Leadership Institute has worked with more than 200 organizations and helped develop thousands of leaders. For more information, visit

About Middle Georgia State University
Middle Georgia State University (MGA) serves about 7,700 students on campuses in Macon, Cochran, Dublin, Eastman, and Warner Robins. MGA offers dozens of programs—from Business to Nursing to Information Technology to New Media & Communications—that lead to bachelor’s degrees. MGA began offering master’s programs in 2016. MGA is home to Georgia’s only public School of Aviation, which is based on the Eastman Campus. MGA’s mission is to educate and graduate inspired, lifelong learners whose scholarship and careers enhance the region through professional leadership, innovative partnerships and community engagement.

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Fall 2016 Commencement Address by Jo Anne Hill: “Game Changers” [FULL REMARKS]


Jo Anne Hill is the director of diversity and employee engagement at Aflac. She leads and manages the diversity and inclusion approach for the company, including the integration of diversity into core personnel and business processes, with a focus on developing, implementing and driving best practice programs, initiatives and processes to foster Aflac’s corporate commitment to diversity.

Hello, Columbus State University Cougars!

I am grateful to be here and to be a part of your celebration.

I want to particularly thank our president, Dr. Chris Markwood, for his vision, leadership and, of course, for the invitation to speak.

I also want to thank the board of trustees for their leadership and role in helping this institution to become one of the nation’s most respected institutions of higher education.

And, to our honorees, Columbus State University’s graduating class of 2016, my, my, my, you have done it! You have made it to Graduation Day! While some may look at this as a celebration that marks the end of something, I have come to tell you that this is a celebration of the beginning of something big! This is a day for which each of you has spent your entire life preparing.

To the audience – I would like every person in the civic center to join me in applause to show our future leaders… corporate executives, business owners, educators, public servants, medical professionals, legal professionals, inventors, discoverers of the next big thing, future Mayor, Governor, President of the United States, these Game Changers for what they are about to do! I cannot tell you exactly what it is you will do, but I can tell you that we know it will be spectacular, amazing, stupendous, and I am so thankful that I am here to see you at the start. To you, the graduates of 2016, we have been waiting for you!

Serving as the Director of Diversity at AFLAC has allowed me to see and better appreciate that great companies, great teams, great governments, great institutions of higher education, even great families function best when there is an appreciation for the importance of individual awareness and personal responsibility.

In this global economy in which we find ourselves, the benefits of diversity have never been more apparent than they are today. When you look at our most successful companies, Fortune 500 or even Fortune 100 – let me note that with the leadership and vision of Aflac’s CEO Dan Amos Columbus’s Aflac is #135 as we are a Fortune 100 company – a common characteristic that they all share is a commitment to diversity.

We are dynamic because of our differences. So as you leave here today, I encourage you to be the best you that you can be.

Embrace your uniqueness – In 2017, corporate America, government, the world is looking for diversity. When we talk about diversity, it is important to understand what we mean. The definition is bi-fur-cated. On one level, we are talking about inherent diversity, which includes things over which we have no control. These things are often described as things that we are born with, such as race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation. On the second level, we have acquired diversity, characteristics and things that we have because we selected them through our experiences and associations. They include things such as our political views, our religious affiliations, our ethos, pathos, logos, the way we dress, where we live – our likes and dislikes. I like to describe this perspective as the way we define ourselves. Each of you is different. Celebrate your uniqueness.

One of the vogue words moving through this global era that you will hear often is innovation. Innovation does not happen without diversity. The world is looking for something new. The next Apple, the next Google, the next Facebook. We are looking for those who can take us to the next level. This is why the world has been waiting for you.

For most, gone are the days where you will be evaluated on what you know alone, you will now be evaluated on what you do, and how you change the game.

Let me be among the first to tell you that the stakes are high and the expectations are great. We are counting on you to change the conversation, to change the makeup of the room, we are counting on you to change the game. And by changing the game, you will change the world.

As Game Changer people, you will be expected to make a positive difference in the world around you. I have no doubt that you are ready for the world, as a matter of fact, considering some of you with whom I have spoken, I question whether the world is ready for you.

So let me share a few points for consideration.

To be Game Changers …

You must be a dreamer. Allow yourself to think outside of social constructs, the proverbial paradigms. Challenge the status quo. Be unwilling to accept the current conditions. The belief that nothing is impossible should be a staple that you carry with you everywhere you go. As Game Changers, regardless of how good things appear to be, how good they feel, no matter how many people are willing to accept things the way they are, you know things can be better. You know we deserve better. You know we can do better. You will dream of ways to be more efficient, more effective, you are innovative. Every product or service we have is the product of someone’s dream. As Game Changers, you possess the mental liberation and dexterity to redefine the paradigms in which we exist. To dream the impossible. To see the future and realize the invisible.

Game changers are courageous. In spite of their fear, Game Changers will charge ahead for the good of the whole. Game changers possess a growth mindset rather than a fixed mindset and they understand that they must avoid their comfort zone.

Game Changers will persevere. Unwilling to take no for an answer, you must be relentless. Have a spirit that is indefatigable. As Game Changers, you are relentless. And when others are ready to quit. To give up. To throw in the towel. Game changers will push, you will push yourself and redefine your limits consistently. Your energy is contagious, and because you will continue the work through the blood, sweat, and tears, you will inspire others to do the same.

Many of you are familiar with the product WD-40. What you may not be familiar with is why it is WD-40, as opposed to WD-4. The 40 represents how many formulas they had to create before they created the one we purchase in stores today. 39 times they were knocked down. 40 times they rose.

Game Changers are doers (People of Action)

Talk is cheap. People will not care how much you know until they know how much you care and you show them how much you care through your actions.

As a Game Changer, you are motivated to chase your dreams because you want it; you are not stuck in a survival mode where you exist solely to satisfy your needs. Allow yourself to chase the biggest and boldest desires and wants that you have. Game Changers are people who get up and go. You are the elite few that will go against the grain, defy the odds, and take action.

I am sure that there are many Game Changers in here today. There are some relatives, friends or perhaps university personnel who said or did something that changed the trajectory of some our students, whether it was offer a strategy for graduating when you thought you might have to dropout. Or perhaps it was changing your perspective when you thought for a moment maybe I’m not college material. Yes, I am certain there a quite a few game changers in here. So to the class of 2016, I want you to know that no matter where you start, how you start, or when you start, you will be measured on the impact you have on the game. Not everyone is a game changer but everyone can be. I challenge you to commit to being Game Changers, the world needs you.

I want to share a personal story with you…

I’m going to assume that some of you are from the Columbus area and that you played in some local sports leagues. Well, when my son was 12, he played for the Cubs in the Peach Little League.

I’ve got to be honest. The Cubs were terrible. And when I say terrible, I mean they couldn’t even buy a game. We got down to near the end of this horrific season and the Cubs were playing the Foxes. My first thought was, “Let’s just get through this.” My second was, “Wow, these kids need some encouragement.” But I am no coach, I am no athlete. What can I say? All I could come up with was 5 simple words.

I know I annoyed the heck out of everyone – including my son – but every time he came up to bat, I yelled out my 5 simple words, so everyone could hear, “Brandon, you can do it!” And then I started to yell out the same encouragement for every player on the team. Justin, you can do it. Brandon, Robert can do it. John, Matthew, you can do it and so on.

Well, you know how they say that what you say can change a person’s life? One person got a hit, and another, and little by little the team’s posture started to change and the confidence began to grow and, darn it, the Cubs beat the Foxes that night.

Oh – and guess what? In addition to a lot of exasperated looks from people who were irritated by my enthusiasm, I was awarded the game ball!

The Cubs ended the season on a high note that carried over to the next season where they won the championship. The bottom line – no matter how you started, or from where you started, today each and every one of you possesses the power to change the game. This power you possess from day 1.

So as I prepare to take my seat, Columbus State University’s graduating class of 2016: the world is waiting for you to change the room – I say to you “You Can Do It!”

CSU’s class of 2016: The world is waiting for you to change the conversations – and I can assure it will not be easy – but I know You Can Do It!

And finally, CSU’s Class of 2016: We have filled this venue today because we all have great expectations for better lives, better communities, a better nation, a better world, and we believe you can help us get there. Family, Friends, and Supporters help me with the last one please…

The world, it expects you to change the game! We have no doubt, absolutely no doubt that You Can Do It!

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CSU Holds Fall 2016 Commencement

COLUMBUS, Ga. – Columbus State University’s fall 2016 commencement ceremony was held Saturday, Dec. 10 at the Columbus Civic Center.

Among the 703 graduates in attendance was CSU’s first graduate from the Guidance and Opportunities for Academic and Leadership Success (GOALS) program, which provides an inclusive college experience for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities who are working toward a meaningful career. Shawna Johnson was the first in her family to attend a four-year institution and was one of the first graduates of an inclusive postsecondary education program in the University System of Georgia to participate in a university-wide commencement ceremony.

Established at CSU in 2014, the GOALS program uses a person-centered planning approach that provides students with the opportunity to set and work toward their personal post-secondary goals as a foundation for lifelong career and community participation.

Jo Anne Hill, director of diversity and employee engagement at Aflac, was the commencement speaker. She leads and manages the diversity and inclusion approach for the company, including the integration of diversity into core personnel and business processes, with a focus on developing, implementing and driving best practice programs, initiatives and processes to foster Aflac’s corporate commitment to diversity.

Click here to view a copy of Hill’s remarks.

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Columbus State University Hosts Second Annual WinterFest

COLUMBUS, Ga. — Columbus State University’s main campus was transformed into a winter wonderland Thursday, Dec. 1 for WinterFest, a new tradition that brings CSU and the community together to celebrate the start of the holiday season. Admission to WinterFest was free and open to the public.

“We are delighted with this year’s turnout,” said CSU President Chris Markwood. “WinterFest is a great opportunity to bring everyone together for the holidays.”

An estimated 4,500 people attended this year’s WinterFest. Attractions included:

— Holiday performances from more than a dozen local schools and organizations
— Campus lighting ceremony
— Train, merry-go-round, horse-drawn carriage and fire truck rides
— Cookie decorating and craft stations from around the world
— Free hot chocolate and popcorn
— Photo opportunities with Santa and Elsa and Olaf from Disney’s “Frozen”
— Story-telling and outdoor movies

WinterFest was celebrated on CSU’s main campus around the Thomas Y. Whitley Clock Tower. For more information, visit

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New Art Exhibition by CSU Alum Conveys Struggle for Social Interaction

COLUMBUS, Ga. — A new art exhibition called “Fractured” by Columbus State University alumna Emily Elliott is now on display in CSU’s ArtLab in the historic Seaboard Depot building on Front Avenue in downtown Columbus.

Consisting of a life-size sculpture and three paintings, the exhibition is a representation of biological and psychological defense mechanisms resulting from trauma and emotional anxiety, a recurring theme in Elliott’s work.



“As a student of the Department of Art, Emily always challenged herself and set the bar high among her peers,” said Hannah Israel, associate professor of art and gallery director at CSU. “Her work was well developed and conceptually mature as an undergraduate. I am so happy that she was willing to come back to CSU to meet with our current students and share her ideas and experiences.”

CSU’s Department of Art will host a reception for “Fractured” Wednesday, Nov. 17, from 5:30-7 p.m. in the ArtLab. Elliott will give her remarks at 6 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

Born and raised in Columbus, Elliott received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Arts from Columbus State University in 2011 and her Master of Fine Arts from the University of South Florida in 2014. She currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.

Elliott uses sculptures and the body as a canvas to convey struggle for social interaction. Referencing philosophical metaphors for society and the individual, her work depicts viscerally the damage and effects of interaction on the individual psyche. Elliott’s evocative works blur the designations of the body and mind, while implicating the figure as both victim and perpetrator.

“Fractured” is on display in the ArtLab until Dec. 10. For more information, contact Israel at


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CSU Professor Delivers Smart Mailbox to New York Conference

COLUMBUS, Ga. — Columbus State University associate professor of computer science Lydia Ray presented a prototype of a self-locking mailbox that could someday flag down delivery drones and intelligently screen driveways for intruders during an October session at the annual IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) Ubiquitous Computing, Electronics, and Mobile Communication Conference in New York City.

Called the ADDSMART project, Ray’s prototype aims to achieve two goals: clearly marking addresses for delivery vehicles, and reducing the energy and data storage costs of home surveillance systems. An early prototype mailbox attachment suggests that the trick, in both cases, may be radio-frequency identification (RFID).

“I have always been fascinated by the tremendous potential of sensors and RFID technology for creating different types of products that can provide a wide variety of services,” said Ray. “I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to implement one of my ideas and have a dedicated student like Jonathan (Tew) whose hard work made this project successful.”

Jonathan Ross Tew (M.S. ’16), a former graduate student in CSU’s TSYS School of Computer Science, worked closely with Ray on the project.

Watch a demo of the ADDSMART project on YouTube.

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New Building Downtown to be Named for Former CSU President Frank Brown

frank-brownCOLUMBUS, Ga. — The University System of Georgia Board of Regents today approved Columbus State University’s request to name its new building downtown after former CSU President Frank D. Brown.

“This new building will be a ‘front door’ of sorts to CSU’s downtown presence,” said current CSU President Chris Markwood. “It is very fitting that it bear the name of Dr. Brown, who was so instrumental in the development of CSU’s RiverPark campus and in the revitalization of downtown Columbus. We are delighted that Dr. Brown allowed us to add his name to this structure as a tribute to his legacy and the power of partnerships. The proposal had broad support among our supporters and with the Regents.”

Faculty and staff will begin moving into Frank D. Brown Hall next month, and classes will start in the building in January.

Brown retired June 30, 2008 after two decades as president of Columbus State University. When he left, he was the longest-serving president in the University System of Georgia.

“This is humbling, and I especially welcome the connection to CSU’s RiverPark campus,” Brown said. “When Dr. Markwood approached me about this idea, I accepted on the condition that we create a tangible reminder on the site that the RiverPark campus — like so many other developments in Columbus — is the result of partnerships and the collective work of a large number of people, a team of which I was privileged to be a part.”

Serving as president in one place for 20 years – an inordinately long time for a university president by today’s standards – is a testament to Brown’s legacy as a genuine servant leader who worked hard to establish trust, harmony and collaboration among CSU faculty, students and staff, Markwood said. “He cultivated deep, meaningful, and mutually productive partnerships with the people, businesses and organizations served by Columbus State University.”

Brown guided the university through a capital campaign that raised $100 million by 2005.

Much of the focus of that campaign was on what has become CSU’s RiverPark campus, home to CSU’s Schwob School of Music and the departments of art, theatre, communication and history. Developed entirely with private funds, CSU’s RiverPark campus provides spectacular facilities for the university’s fine arts programs and now houses more than 450 students. The university’s efforts led to more than $112 million being invested into downtown Columbus by, or on behalf of, CSU in the last decade and helped spur a revitalization of the whole area.

The next stage in that revitalization is the university’s new home for many of its education and nursing programs.

“Housing CSU’s nursing and many education programs, this building also is completely funded through private giving,” Markwood said in a letter to the Regents proposing the naming. “Because of its repurposed use, its reliance on private funding, its visibility to the community and its mission to teach and serve, we believe it would be most appropriate for this new complex to be known as the Dr. Frank D. Brown Hall.”

“I am thrilled that Dr. Brown’s name will be associated with our college,” said Deirdre Greer, dean of the College of Education and Health Professions. “Dr. Brown was the president when I started at CSU, so I know about the great work he did here. I think in many ways, the work that the College of Education and Health Professions is doing parallels the work that Dr. Brown did. For example, we are working with our many community partners to support the growth and development of health care and education in the region, which will attract and promote families and businesses to Columbus. Columbus State University has had a significant impact on this city, much of which can be attributed to the work done by Dr. Brown, and the College of Education and Health Professions plans to do our part to continue that work.”

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CSU Homecoming Week Combined New Events with Traditional “Flare”


COLUMBUS, Ga. — Columbus State University celebrated Homecoming Week Nov. 7-12, with a full slate of activities that appealed to alumni, students, families and community members alike.

“I am thrilled community members as well as area alumni came out to support CSU and their alma mater this weekend,” said Jennifer Joyner, assistant vice president for alumni engagement and special events. “We created events that were fun, family-friendly and mostly free to encourage our 15,000+ alumni that live in the area to get engaged with the university. It’s a great time to be a Columbus State Cougar!”

CSU again celebrated through the streets of downtown, from Broadway to Woodruff Park, during the annual CSU Homecoming Parade Friday, Nov. 11.

Following the parade, the public was invited to keep the party going during “Evening on the River,” featuring live music from Party Nation Band, Atlanta’s favorite party band, in CSU’s Woodruff Park. “Evening on the River” concluded with a fireworks show over the Chattahoochee River.

New this year, CSU hosted a family-friendly tailgate before the men’s and women’s basketball games on Saturday, Nov. 12. Adults had the option of attending Cougarfest, an Oktoberfest-like beer festival coordinated with the help of Columbus’ Maltitude craft beer bottle shop, before the games. The women’s basketball team dominated Agnes Scott 89-33; the men soundly defeated Fort Benning 111-62. Admission to both games was free and open to the public.

“This year’s Homecoming was one to remember,” said Cylina Velazquez, senior marketing major at CSU and student co-director of the Homecoming Committee. “We brought back old traditions, such as Paint the Town and the Paws Up Talent Show, while creating new ones, like our #ThrowbackThursday Dance Party. This was my last year attending Homecoming, so I definitely wanted it to be the best one, yet.”

On Friday, Nov. 11, CSU honored the following alumni during an awards program and luncheon at CSU’s Cunningham Center:

– P. Timothy Money (B.B.A. ‘86), 2016 Alumni Service Award
– Molli M. Newman (B.S. ‘05), 2016 Young Alumna Award
– C. Bernard McCrary (B.B.A. ‘05 & M.P.A. ‘09), 2016 Young Alumnus Award
– Bruce E. Baldwin (B.S. ‘79), 2016 Excellence in Alumni Achievement
– Denise A. Yardley (B.S. ‘83), 2016 Excellence in Alumni Achievement
– Raymond V. Herras (B.S. ‘00), 2016 Distinguished Alumnus in Military Service
– Yuliya A. Komarova (B.B.A. ‘01 & M.B.A. ‘03), 2016 International Education Alumni Award


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Where Does Columbus Rank Among the “Haves” and “Have-Nots”?


A new study by Columbus State University’s Ben Blair explores the key election issue of income inequality

COLUMBUS, Ga. — A major theme in this year’s election cycle, especially on the Democratic side, is the issue of income inequality, especially when measured by the gap between the so-called “rich” and those who are “poor.” A recent Pew Research Center poll, taken in January 2014, says 65 percent of voters believe that inequality has increased and 69 percent favor some form of government action to reduce the income gap.

Some amount of income inequality among households is natural as result of individuals making different choices about their education, occupation, and lifestyle choices, such as when to marry and how long to stay in the labor force. Inequality also occurs naturally due to age as employees with more experience earn more, in general, than someone with less experience just entering the workforce.

There are also other factors that create inequality that are not so natural. These erect roadblocks to opportunity and mobility. Examples include discriminatory hiring practices that limit job choice and educational attainment and government regulations that hamper entrepreneurship.

A wide range of income inequality measures have been developed, but a simple way to illustrate the concept using readily available data is by looking at the percentage of households that earn greater than $200,000 as the “haves”, and labeling the percentage that earn less than $25,000 as the “have-nots.” Using the latest (2014) data from the American Community Survey, Blair looked at the Columbus metropolitan statistical area (MSA), consisting of Muscogee, Russell, Harris, Chattahoochee, and Marion counties. Out of 111,394 local households:

Columbus MSA Haves and Have-nots:

– 29.4% had incomes below $25,000 (“have-nots”)
– 2.7% had incomes above $200,000 (“haves”)

While Blair was unable to judge whether the inequality is due mostly to natural causes or unnatural forces, he was able to use this data to compare Columbus with other metro areas. In general, areas that have a smaller percentage of households that are “have-nots” and a greater percentage of households that are “haves” are considered better off than Columbus.

Better off than Columbus:

– Savannah
– Atlanta
– Chattanooga

Those with a larger percentage of “have-nots” and a lower percentage of “haves” are considered worse off.

Worse off than Columbus:

– Valdosta
– Macon
– Tuscaloosa

Another group of cities has smaller percentages of both haves and have-nots than Columbus. These areas have a greater concentration of households in the middle-class income categories. Familiar cities in this group include Asheville, N.C. and Hinesville, Ga. Finally, only nine metro areas had a greater concentration of both low-income households and high-income households. Gainesville, Fla. and Athens, Ga. fall in this group.



Looking at how the percentage of haves and have-nots has changed over time sheds some light on the question of whether the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. The answer depends on where you look, but in Columbus this does not seem to be the case. Since 2009, even though the percentage of high-income households has increased, the percentage of low-income households has decreased. However, statewide both the haves and have-nots have increased. Since 2010, the percentage of households earning more than $200,000 increased from 3.6 percent to 4.1 percent, while the percentage below $25,000 has also increased from 25.1 percent to 25.6 percent.


What seems to matter to voters is not that inequality is present, but the degree of the inequality. As described in the Pew poll, when income disparities are perceived as being too large there is a call for change. As Blair described, income disparities differ geographically. So whether income inequality will be a significant factor that decides the outcome of the election will depend on the degree of inequality in the swing states and how each candidate’s policy prescriptions are received by those local voters.

Ben Blair is the director of the Butler Center for Business and Economic Research at Columbus State University and an associate professor of economics for CSU’s D. Abbott Turner College of Business.

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CSU Ranked Best Online College in Georgia

badgeCOLUMBUS, Ga. – Affordable Colleges Online has ranked Columbus State University the top school in the state in terms of value and quality for its online, four-year degree options.

The rankings were based on a comparison of tuition and fees, availability of financial aid, number of online programs, student-teacher ratios and graduation rates among Georgia institutions.

“I am very pleased that CSU is being recognized again for quality and affordability,” said CSU President Chris Markwood. “Our professors and programs are truly respected, as demonstrated by our national accreditations, peer recognition and student success stories that are now common across campus. I commend our faculty and staff for taking this quality online to better reach a growing segment of students who need to learn and advance their careers in different ways.”

According to Affordable Colleges Online, Georgia is a leader when it comes to higher education, with more than 30 institutions statewide offering fully online or hybrid degree options. Columbus State University was recognized for providing the best opportunities and value for students seeking online training and educational programs.

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Ron Clark to Speak at 12th Annual Jim Blanchard Leadership Forum

ron-clarkCOLUMBUS, Ga. — Known to many as “America’s Educator,” Ron Clark has been announced as the first speaker for the 2017 Jim Blanchard Leadership Forum (JBLF). The two-day event, hosted by the Leadership Institute at Columbus State University, brings the best and brightest minds in the world to Columbus.

Clark is the 2000 Disney American Teacher of the Year, a two-time New York Times best-selling author, the subject of a television movie and the founder of The Ron Clark Academy. He is regularly featured on network and cable television, including The Today Show, CNN and Oprah.

Clark brings charisma, energy and devotion to the education profession. He pioneered innovative projects in rural North Carolina, working with minority students in a low-wealth area. His highly effective programs garnered national attention and led to a White House invitation to be honored by the President of the United States.

Upon watching a television piece chronicling low test scores and the lack of teachers in inner-city New York, Clark packed his car and moved to Harlem. After being warned by the principal that his class was the least disciplined group she had seen in years, he prepared himself by visiting the home of each student before the first day of school. He involved his students in projects in the city and state, and his “low achievers” soon began to excel. By the end of the year, their scores were higher than the “gifted” classes in his district.

In 2003, Clark released the New York Times best-selling book, “The Essential 55,” which includes his 55 expectations of students—as well as all individuals—young and old. His second book, “The Excellent 11,” was released in August 2004 and further captured the attention of parents, educators and students alike.

In 2006, Clark founded The Ron Clark Academy, an inner-city school serving students from across metro Atlanta. The privately-funded institution is unique for its innovative teaching methods and curriculum based on world-wide travel. Each year the students, grades 5-8, apply their in-class lessons to international adventures. By graduation, each child will have visited six of the seven continents. Teachers from around the world visit the Academy to observe the innovative and “out-of-the-box” methods for achieving student success.

His most anticipated book came in 2011, “The End of Molasses Classes: Getting Our Kids Unstuck—101 Extraordinary Solutions for Parents and Teachers.” This New York Times best-seller brought to light 101 innovative and classroom-tested ways for improving America’s schools and leading our children to greatness.

Clark will speak at the 2017 JBLF, themed “Inspired Leadership.” The event will be held Monday-Tuesday, August 28-29, at the Columbus Convention and Trade Center. Individual tickets to the two-day event are $529 and tables of eight are $4,200. To purchase tickets or tables, visit

New speakers will be announced every month. Follow JBLF on Facebook or visit for updates.

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Columbus State University Hosts Cybersecurity Exercise

COLUMBUS, Ga. — The Columbus chapter of the Technology Association of Georgia (TAG) hosted a cyber security simulation at Columbus State University to teach participants how to properly respond to a cyber security threat.

Presented as part of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, the event was held Tuesday, Oct. 25 in the Elizabeth Bradley Turner Center (Founders Room) on CSU’s main campus.

“Using real world examples, this event helped employees and individuals mitigate the risks of living in a cyber world,” said Dee Spivey, director of information security at CSU.

Similar to mystery theatre, participants acted out roles and used clues to solve a cyber crisis. The structure of the simulation helped unearth interdependencies, evaluate plans, and examine roles and responsibilities, said Spivey.

The following experts in information technology also spoke at the event:

— Stan Gatewood, CISO, Georgia Technology Authority
— Stephan McCamy, senior threat management consultant, Aflac Inc.
— Tera Ladner, director of information governance, Aflac Inc.

CSU is gaining recognition as a source for cybersecurity education. In 2015, the university was designated a Center of Excellence in Cyber Defense Education by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security. Also that year, TSYS gifted CSU $4.5 million to establish the TSYS Cybersecurity Center and Endowment to be housed in the Turner College of Business’ TSYS School of Computer Science.

For more information, contact the CSU Help Desk at 706-507-8199 or Dee Spivey at 706-507-8137.

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