Up Front

Partnership With U.S. Air Force Expands Options for Military

Georgia Southern is partnering with the U.S. Air Force to help active-duty, National Guard and reserve personnel pursue education through the General Education Mobile (GEM) program.

GEM is a landmark partnership between Air University, the Community College of the Air Force, and civilian academic institutions. Georgia Southern’s participation in the partnership makes the University one of only 96 institutions of higher learning where airmen are approved to take classes remotely.

Georgia Southern offers both online and traditional classes in each of the five required general education areas: mathematics, written communication, oral communication, social sciences and humanities. Airmen are required to complete 15 semester hours of general education to earn an Associate of Applied Science degree from the Community College of the Air Force.

“GEM provides an outstanding educational opportunity for today’s airmen,” said Phil Gore, director of Military and Veterans Affairs for the University. “The service member earns a degree that will help enhance their career and provides a solid foundation for further studies.”

Additionally, members of the U.S. Air Force will be able to take advantage of Georgia Southern’s online classes, which provide the flexibility members of the military often need to complete their degrees.

“The military puts a lot of emphasis on higher education, so it’s great to see Georgia Southern partner with the U.S. Air Force,” said Ciara Barrett, a member of the Georgia Air National Guard studying rehabilitation sciences.

New K-9 Officer Reports for Duty

Meet Bear, the second K-9 officer to join the Georgia Southern University Police Department. He’s a Belgian Malinois trained to detect explosives. Bear is the first K-9 officer assigned to protect the Armstrong Campus, where he works alongside Patrol Officer Philip Garza. The K-9 officer was obtained through a partnership with the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office. Optima Energy sponsored Bear’s bullet and stab protective vest, which was obtained through the nonprofit organization Vested Interest in K9s, Inc.

Georgia National Guard Photo by Maj. William Carraway

Hurricane Help

More than 900 Georgia National Guard soldiers and airmen from nearly 40 units across the state extended a much needed helping hand in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael. The relief mission brought three Georgia Southern alumni together in hard-hit Donalsonville, Georgia, near the Florida-Georgia border. They included Brig. Gen. Randall Simmons (’95), commander of the Georgia Army National Guard, Capt. Stephen Schiff (’13) and Capt. Zachary Williams (’12). They helped deliver emergency supplies to hurricane victims who needed food, water and other life-saving aid.

Georgia Southern also hosted more than 150 students from Albany State University, including members of the Golden Rams football team. The team was able to practice and prepare for its Oct. 14 game at Morehouse College (a win). Albany State — which is located in Albany, Georgia, and sits just over 100 miles north of the Florida gulf coast — received heavy damage from Hurricane Michael, closing the school for a week.

Now Open in Statesboro: $33.6 Million Interdisciplinary Academic Building

Georgia Southern University marked a new era in September with the opening of the brand new state-of-the-art Interdisciplinary Academic Building (IAB). The three-story, 110,000-square-foot facility is located near the Pedestrium between the Carroll Building and the Information Technology Building on the Statesboro Campus. The IAB provides teaching space for a variety of academic programs, including interior design, fashion merchandising and apparel design, foreign languages, history, interdisciplinary studies as well as an advisement center, lecture halls, classrooms and offices. The IAB’s classroom spaces are designed to encourage student-centered teaching and learning and to foster collaboration across disciplines on campus.

It’s Hands-free Only for Georgia Drivers

It is now illegal to hold or talk on your cellphone while driving in Georgia. The Hands-Free Georgia Act was signed into law by Gov. Nathan Deal in Statesboro last May with many Georgia Southern community members in attendance. Texting, reading or sending emails, posting on social media and browsing the internet while behind the wheel are prohibited. You can still use phones in the car but must utilize hands-free features such as Bluetooth, speakerphone, voice-to-text and other hands-free setups. Drivers in Georgia may also use GPS navigation and touch their phones to dial, receive or end a call.

The families of five Georgia Southern nursing students killed in a 2015 multi-vehicle crash on I-16 were invited to watch Gov. Deal sign the bill that cracks down on distracted drivers. Lobbying by the victims’ families played a key role in the legislative debate on the Hands-Free Georgia Act.

Learning Through Doing

Aquaponics Center is a Learning Lab for Students

Students on the Armstrong Campus are feasting on various herbs and vegetables they helped grow through the use of a sustainable method of agriculture called aquaponics. It is a combination of fish farming (aquaculture) and soilless crop production (hydroponics). Aquaponic farming involves raising fish in tanks and growing plants in the water. Waste from the fish fertilizes the plants, and in turn the plants clean the water for the fish to live in.

The complex recirculating system of pipes, tanks and plant grow beds is located in a 4,100-square-foot greenhouse. The unique project by the Foram Sustainable Aquaponics Research Center (SARC) is a joint venture between Georgia Southern and the Foram Group Charitable Foundation.

“The core mission of SARC is to conduct cutting-edge research on strategies and technologies that will advance the sustainability and profitability of aquaponics,” said SARC senior scientist Heather Joesting, Ph.D.. “We involve students in all aspects of the facility where we teach them marketable skills, such as basic research skills, and train them in aquaponics maintenance. It is also our goal to increase awareness of the benefits of aquaponics through educational tours to the community and partnerships with local schools.”

Student volunteers get hands-on experience growing and harvesting food using sustainable farming technology. So far, they have produced sweet basil, green onions, jalapeno peppers, lemon basil, Thai basil and Thai chilis, which have been used in food served on campus by Eagle Dining Services.

Grant to Accelerate Start-up Businesses in Hinesville

In September, Georgia Southern University and the Hinesville Development Authority were co-awarded a $750,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration. The grant will help fund the construction of a business incubator, led by Georgia Southern’s Business Innovation Group (BIG). The organization connects start-ups with industry and faculty experts to assist in various stages of business development. Simultaneously, BIG provides University student interns with hands-on experience in starting a business.

The Hinesville Development Authority is providing an additional $750,000 grant, bringing the total to $1.5 million. The business incubator will support overall growth in the area.

The incubator will be located near Georgia Southern’s Liberty Campus. The new facility will house approximately 5,000 square feet to accommodate 12 new business clients.

BIG is committed to developing a vibrant entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystem for southeast Georgia. Through innovative and entrepreneurial thinking, BIG assists local communities in crafting an ecosystem that will encourage business start-ups and job creation activities. By creating these opportunities, business incubators provide physical and developmental benefits to local entrepreneurs.

New Alumna Named Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellow

Bailey Kirk, who graduated in May, has enrolled in graduate school as a Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellow. The program recruits and prepares both recent graduates and career changers to teach in the STEM fields — science, technology, engineering and math — in high-need Georgia high schools. Kirk is among 24 aspiring Georgia STEM educators selected for the highly competitive fellowship.

Kirk, who grew up in Portsmouth, Virginia, is already student teaching in the Atlanta area and hopes to have her master’s by next summer. She is teaching precalculus and AP statistics to 11th and 12th graders and says she loves it.

“I plan on being a high school math teacher,” says Kirk, a graduate of the Georgia Southern Honors Program. “My plans have always been to try to work in Title 1 schools, and with my fellowship, I have to teach in them for at least three years within Georgia.”

The Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowship awards $30,000 to complete a specially designed master’s degree program based on a yearlong classroom experience. Kirk is attending graduate school at Georgia State University. After fulfilling her three-year teaching commitment, the math major plans to pursue a doctoral degree and continue working in education. She wants to work either in administration as a professor, or in politics, working for education reform.

Celebrating Staff

Georgia Southern University’s staff members are dedicated to making the University a special place for students. Hundreds of employees gathered on both the Statesboro and Armstrong campuses last May for the annual staff appreciation picnics. They enjoyed delicious food, fun, games and prizes. The Staff Council hosts the event each year, right after the end of the spring semester. Proceeds from the raffle ticket sales support the Staff Council Scholarship and Book Award.