A NOTE FROM THE PROVOST
Welcome to a semester unlike any other. Although the word “unprecedented” has been used extensively over the last six months, it continues to ring true. Never have we been more challenged or pressured to “get it right” for our community. Between the continuing threat of the pandemic, the racial unrest felt throughout our cities, and the economic downturn, we all have been stretched to our limits intellectually, emotionally and professionally. And yet, through it all, our faculty and staff consistently pushed aside every obstacle to step up and deliver. It has been an incredible team effort, and one that continues.
As we begin fall semester, the results of our hard work are evident. The collaborative efforts of public health professionals, faculty, area experts, staff and administrators have resulted in a significantly safer campus environment this fall. As you look around, you will see fewer people on our streets and classrooms, safety instructions and reminders in every direction, face masks on our campuses, and a robust online presence as well as face-to-face options where pedagogically necessary. Our goal was to provide as much choice and flexibility as possible to our community while still meeting our mission. We will begin the semester with approximately half of our courses completely online, both as a response to student demand and to accommodate our faculty with health and safety concerns.
Thank you to everyone for your flexibility and patience as we worked through the changing conditions to reach our final plan. There is no doubt that questions will arise throughout the semester as new conditions emerge. I encourage you to check back often to ahead.gsu.edu. We will post updates for our community on a regular basis.
Although dealing with COVID-19 has taken up much time these last months, we have continued to move other important agendas forward. The senseless deaths this summer of Black Americans locally and nationally have made clear that our nation and our university must actively confront the scourges of racism and discrimination. Georgia State is committed to creating the kinds of changes that produce equitable opportunities and give substance to the concept of equal justice for all.
Because of this commitment, we are accelerating our work on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). You will learn here about our new comprehensive DEI website, the work of the Task Force on Racial Equality, and the creation of an institutional office for DEI. We discuss a new scholarship named for the women who attempted to integrate Georgia State and highlight the work of the new Center for Studies on Africa and Its Diaspora. We also announce here a series of diversity dialogues this year to highlight the need for change and explore the impact that Georgia state can have.
Recognizing that the tensions of our current environment are likely to cause challenging encounters in the classroom, we collaborated across the University System of Georgia (USG) to provide resources to faculty on skillfully navigating difficult conversations and deescalating conflict. Thanks to Dean Nancy Kropf, Associate Provost Nicolle Parsons-Pollard, Dr. Laura Carruth, and many others for their efforts to create these materials. They will serve us well in the days to come.
Of course, we would be remiss not to explore the incredible legacy of Congressman John Lewis, who we lost a short time ago. You can learn more about his achievements and his strong ties to Georgia State University, where his legacy lives on, and watch his last address to our community below.
On a different note, we are incredibly pleased that Georgia State achieved a record level of research funding in fiscal year 2020 despite the pandemic. You can learn more about it here, as well as current efforts by our fantastically talented faculty.
Finally, I would like to give a special welcome to those who have joined our team over the last few months – Nicolle Parsons-Pollard, our new Associate Provost for Faculty Affairs; Dean Huanbiao Mo, who has moved from interim to permanent Dean of the Lewis College of Nursing and Health Professions; and Kim Siegenthaler, our first Associate Provost for Online Strategies. We are fortunate to have these talented professionals as part of our Georgia State community.
Thank you again for your hard work and commitment to Georgia State. It’s made an incredible difference across the board these last few months. Welcome back, stay safe, and best of luck as we begin this fall semester together.
Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Updates
- Georgia State Ahead
- Women’s Philanthropy Network Hold Voting Rights Speaker Series
- Difficult Conversations
- New Faculty Leave Guide Available
- Remembering John Lewis, 1940-2020
- Office of International Initiatives Receives IDEAS Grant
- University Receives Rapid Response Grant to Develop New Coronavirus Tools
- Georgia State Receives Record Research Funding in FY 2020
- Religious Accommodation Reminder
NEWS FROM THE NEXT GENERATION PROGRAM
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Updates
Georgia State is moving forward with actions to foster diversity, equity and inclusion both at the university itself and in our greater society. Here are a few of the latest updates.
The New Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Website and Diversity Database
The Office of the Provost is proud to announce the launch of the new Diversity, Equity & Inclusion website, serving as Georgia State’s first-ever central information hub for DEI activities, programs and resources.
A major component of the new site is the Diversity Database, which brings together more than 100 programs and initiatives across the university’s colleges and schools. The database is searchable by program type, academic discipline, groups served, sponsoring unit, student level, keyword, and more. Program/initiative sponsors across campus can submit items to the database and provide updates for their entries.
The site will also include information from the Task Force for Racial Equality, as well as the Implementation Steering Committee for the Next Generation of Faculty initiative. The DEI site also includes libraries of policies, publications, multimedia, news, a calendar of events, and more, all related to DEI matters.
You can find all of this at https://dei.gsu.edu.
New Actions to Advance Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
In late July, President Becker announced several actions to advance diversity, equity & inclusion at Georgia State. These include:
- A search for Georgia State’s first Vice President for Institutional Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, reporting directly to the university president;
- Diversity Dialogues during the 2020-21 academic year, to explore challenges and opportunities for Georgia State about multiple issues, including campus climate and race, race and policing, faculty development and retention, and civil rights issues;
- The Ground Crew Scholarship, honoring Myra Payne Elliott, Barbara Pace Hunt and Iris Mae Welch, who sued to integrate Georgia State in the 1950s, and who were the honorees at the inaugural Provost’s Groundbreaker Lecture in February.
You can read the president’s message at https://dei.gsu.edu/2020/08/president-becker-announces-major-actions-to-advance-diversity-equity-inclusion-at-georgia-state/. More information about the dates, times and themes of the upcoming Diversity Dialogues will be announced via campus email and through the university and DEI calendar.
Center for Studies on Africa and Its Diaspora (CSAD)
Georgia State University’s College of Arts & Sciences has established the Center for Studies on Africa and its Diaspora, a multidisciplinary hub for the exchange of cultural, scientific, economic, policy and humanities knowledge within the university, and with local and global communities and collaborators.
The center will support research and academic initiatives, artistic efforts and public programming, including exhibits, lectures and conferences, and advance policy proposals that target issues of concern to the African diaspora across the university and the broader community.
The center is led by co-directors Jennie Ward-Robinson, special adviser to the dean of the College of Arts & Sciences and an expert in global health and multilateral government affairs, and Elizabeth West, professor of English and executive director of the South Atlantic Modern Language Association. The founding members of the center include faculty who represent a wide range of disciplines, including African-American studies, biology, chemistry, English, physics and astronomy, public health and women’s, gender and sexuality studies.
The formation of the center addresses one of the key recommendations of Georgia State’s Commission for the Next Generation of Faculty, which was tasked with identifying strategies for the university to address faculty diversity, equity and inclusion. The commission delivered its recommendations in June 2019.
The center held its inaugural speaker series event on Aug. 6, with a discussion on race and the role of the academy in the post-awakening world.
You can learn more about CSAD at https://csad.gsu.edu.
Staying Up-to-Date: The Georgia State Ahead Website
As Georgia State adapts to an unparalleled situation in a complex new academic year, things can change rapidly. You no doubt have many questions, too.
That’s why Georgia State Ahead is available at https://ahead.gsu.edu. This comprehensive website provides extensive information, including the fall academic plan, working in face-to-face classrooms, work arrangements, health and safety, testing and contact tracing, and more.
There’s also a searchable frequently asked questions functionality, with FAQs updated regularly. The site, administered by the Department of Public Relations & Marketing Communications, pulls information together from the university’s Coronavirus Task Force and from many different university divisions, including Student Affairs, Human Resources and Academic Affairs.
As the central site for these matters at Georgia State, updates will be posted as rapidly as things change. Be sure to check Georgia State Ahead frequently for the latest.
Women’s Philanthropy Network Holds Voting Rights Speaker Series
The Women’s Philanthropy Network (WPN) is sponsoring the Voting Rights Speaker Series this fall, with a goal to engage Georgia State alumni, students, faculty and community leaders in virtual events that address critical topics this election year.
The series kicked off on Aug. 26 with a celebration of the 19th Amendment, and you will find a recording of the event and online streams for future events in the series at https://giving.gsu.edu/wpn-voting-rights-series/.
Future scheduled events and speakers include:
- Voting and Voter Suppression
Noon to 1p.m., Sept. 23
This session will enlighten viewers in understanding the political and procedural barriers to voting and how they can be overcome. Former Georgia Secretary of State (and current Dean of Mercer Law School) Cathy Cox, ACLU Executive Director Andrea Young, and Georgia State Professor Dr. Jennifer McCoy will discuss best practices in encouraging maximum voter participation.
- Women Leading the Way
Noon to 1 p.m., Oct. 21
Learn the many ways Georgia State is providing opportunities to its students to seek leadership positions. Women Lead founder Dr. Nancy Mansfield and her Georgia State colleague Dr. Sarah Gershon will be joined by Emory Professor Dr. Pearl Dowe to discuss how to encourage young women to succeed in business, policy, and politics.
- What Happened?
Noon to 1 p.m., Nov. 11
Scheduled for one week after Election Day, join the Women’s Philanthropy Network at Georgia State to discuss what the election results tell us about who voted and why. Expert panelists will include Georgia State Professor Dr. Amy Steigerwalt and Emory Professor Dr. Andra Gillespie.
Difficult Classroom Conversations
This August, the university’s Office of Faculty Affairs in conjunction with the Office of the Provost, the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, the Dean of Students, and other departments at the institution held open forums on difficult classroom conversations to assist faculty at the start of a semester amid the stresses and strains of the COVID-19 pandemic, political divisions ahead of the November elections, and the country’s reckoning over racial injustice and inequality.
For helpful tips to begin this fall semester in the classroom, visit CETL’s website at https://cetl.gsu.edu/resources/resources-for-remote-teaching-and-learning/fall-plan-keep-teaching/difficult-conversations/. You’ll also find a list of helpful resources related to difficult classroom conversations here.
To view recordings of the forums, click here. You will need your Georgia State Campus ID and password to view them.
New Faculty Leave Guide Available
In the course of employment at Georgia State, faculty members may need to take time off from work due to family events such as a birth of a child, adoption, or to take care of a family member. The Office of Faculty Affairs has updated its family leave guide to provide more information about options available to Georgia State faculty to arrange such leave. You can find the new leave guide by clicking here or selecting the button below.
Remembering Congressman John Lewis, 1940-2020
Georgia State mourns the loss of U.S. Representative John Lewis, a champion for civil and human rights for all, a major figure in the Civil Rights Movement, and a leader for social justice in society.
Rep. Lewis long had ties with Georgia State over the years. During the 2019-20 academic year, he addressed incoming students as the keynote speaker of the Fall 2019 Freshman Convocation, and Georgia State’s first-year novel during the past academic year was his “March: Book Three.” The book is part of an autobiographical black and white graphic novel trilogy about the Civil Rights Movement, told through the perspective of Rep. Lewis.
The Provost’s Office is grateful for the opportunity to share the resources below, including the video of the late congressman’s convocation address, a message from President Becker to the campus community, a photo gallery assembled by the university’s Department of PR and Marketing Communications of Rep. Lewis’ visits to Georgia State, and a link to recollections by Georgia State’s own historian and Associate Professor of African American Studies Dr. Maurice Hobson – himself a native of Selma, Ala.
Rep. Lewis’ Fall 2019 Freshman Convocation Speech
Rep. Lewis’ speech begins near the 28-minute mark.
Georgia State University President Mark Becker wrote to the university community on July 18, 2020:
The Georgia State University community is profoundly saddened by the death of Georgia Congressman John Lewis. A heroic champion for civil rights, he was also an outspoken advocate for educational opportunity and equity. Congressman Lewis’s Atlanta office is on the edge of our downtown campus, and he often shared that one of the joys of being in Atlanta was seeing the thousands of Georgia State students moving about our university. A man of deep faith and inviolable convictions, he was the model of a servant leader, unfailingly gentle and unremittingly strong. Our nation has lost a great American. We must honor his legacy by continuing the work of creating the kind of equal and inclusive society to which he dedicated his life. We will miss him dearly.
Increasing and Diversifying Education Abroad: Office of International Initiatives Receives IDEAS Grant
A grant submitted by Georgia State University’s Office of International Initiatives, in collaboration with Georgia State’s African American Male Initiative, has been selected for funding under the IDEAS (Increase and Diversify Education Abroad for U.S. Students) Program. This grant program is funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Capacity Building Program for U.S. Study Abroad.
Georgia State is one of 24 colleges and universities from across the United States, selected from 115 applicants, to create, expand, and/or diversify American student mobility overseas in support of U.S. foreign policy goals. The grant will expand study abroad outreach to African American males at the university through a partnership between International Initiatives and the African American Male Initiative on campus.
The Capacity Building Program for U.S. Study Abroad is a program of the U.S. Department of State with funding provided by the U.S. Government and supported in its implementation by World Learning.
“We are committed to continuing our support for U.S. colleges and universities as they build their study abroad capacity now, in anticipation of a strong return to U.S. student mobility in the future… When American students study abroad, they support critical U.S. foreign policy goals by building relationships with foreign peers, sharing American culture and values, and developing valuable career skills. With these international experiences, the next generation of Americans is being equipped with the skills necessary to compete and succeed globally,” said Marie Royce, Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
The Capacity Building Program for U.S. Study Abroad seeks to increase the capacity of accredited U.S. colleges and universities to create, expand, and diversify study abroad programs for U.S. students. In addition to the IDEAS Grant competition, the program also offers opportunities for faculty, staff, and administrators at U.S. colleges and universities to participate in a series of free virtual and in-person study abroad capacity building activities.
For a full list of 2020 IDEAS Grant recipients, as well as information on a free IDEAS webinar series on building study abroad resources for U.S. campuses, please visit the Capacity Building Program for U.S. Study Abroad website at www.studyabroadcapacitybuilding.com.
Georgia State Receives Rapid Response Grant to Develop New Coronavirus Tools
Georgia State University researchers have received a one-year, $200,000 rapid response grant from the National Science Foundation to develop a tool to detect the presence of SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing the COVID-19 pandemic.
Technology being developed by chemistry professor Gangli Wang in collaboration with assistant biology professor Mukesh Kumar is anticipated to provide several benefits, including fast turnaround time and greatly decreased false negative outcomes.
“It’s extremely challenging to detect a single virus, which represents the earliest or most sensitive detection possible,” said Wang. “When you take a pregnancy test, for example, you collect a urine sample first thing in the morning because that’s when the biomarkers are more concentrated. But we don’t want to wait till the virus grows in our bodies before we test for it.”
Testing methods now require a multi-step process to purify and amplify, or grow, the sample so even trace amounts of the virus can be detected. This treatment process is expensive and time consuming, contributing to the lag time in obtaining test results. It is also error prone, increasing the chance of false negative results.
“The more you have to do to the sample, the more likely you are to end up with errors,” Kumar said. “There are so many places where things can go wrong.”
Wang’s simplified testing method uses electrochemistry to bypass the need for sample treatment or amplification by using a sensor to detect genetic sequences specific to SARS-CoV-2.
“We’re essentially using the virus RNA molecule as a switch,” said Wang. “If the RNA sequence is present, it interacts with our sensor and switches on the circuit so that electrons flow to create current signal, like water flows after a faucet is switched on. If the RNA isn’t present, the switch remains off.”
The method allows scientists and clinicians to detect tiny amounts of the virus in a sample. It also provides the quantity of a patient sample’s viral load by measuring the intensity of these interactions, or how quickly they occur.
Learn more by selecting the button below.
University Receives Record Research Funding in FY 2020
Georgia State faculty have set an institutional record for research funding, receiving $150.2 million during fiscal year 2020.
The record surpasses the previous high of $147 million set in fiscal year 2017 and is $22 million higher than the previous year’s total. This is the sixth consecutive year research awards have topped $100 million, and the first year awards have exceeded $150 million.
Of the $150.2 million, $56.5 million came from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), $17.8 from the National Science Foundation (NSF), $11.2 million from the Georgia Department of Health and Human Services, and $9.3 million from the U.S. Department of Education. Taken together, NIH and NSF awards nearly doubled from last year’s total of $37.7 million.
Among the university’s top 20 grant recipients, 12 are women. Thirty-three investigators brought in more than $1 million each. The College of Arts & Sciences, the School of Public Health and the College of Education and Human Development each set college funding records.
For more details and highlights of specific grants, please click here.
Religious Accommodation Reminder for Academic Year 2020-21
Many students observe religious holidays essential to the practice of their faith. Because there are a large number of faiths represented at Georgia State, it is difficult to provide a comprehensive list of all religious holidays. Some of the widely observed religious holidays for the 2020-21 academic year are listed below:
- Rosh Hashanah: Sept. 18-20, 2020
- Yom Kippur: Sept. 27-28, 2020
- Navaratri: Oct. 17-26, 2020
- Diwali: Nov. 14, 2020
- Hanukkah: Dec. 10-18, 2020
- Christmas Day (Western calendar): Dec. 25, 2020
- Orthodox and Coptic Christmas Day: Jan. 7, 2021
- Ash Wednesday (Western calendar): Feb. 17, 2021
- Orthodox and Coptic Lent: March 15-May 1, 2021
- Passover (first two days): March 28-29, 2021
- Good Friday (Western calendar): April 2, 2021
- Easter (Western calendar): April 4, 2021
- Orthodox and Coptic Holy Week: April 26-30, 2021
- Orthodox and Coptic Easter: May 2, 2021
The following applies regardless of course modality:
Students must provide instructors with reasonable notice of the dates of religious holidays on which they plan to be absent and must be given an equivalent opportunity to make up missed work according to an agreed-upon schedule. Such accommodations might include rescheduling an exam or giving the student a make-up exam, allowing an individual or group presentation to be made on a different date, letting a student attend a different section for the same class that week, adjusting a due date or assigning the student appropriate make-up work that is no more difficult than the original assignment.
Absence for a religious reason should be counted as an excused absence and should not be counted against any other excused absences permitted by the instructor. Should a complicated situation arise related to religious accommodations (for example, clinical rotations), contact your department chair, dean’s office or the Office of Legal Affairs at 404-413-0500.
Ike Okosun: Understanding Metabolic Syndrome Among the African Diaspora
Dr. Ike Okosun is an Associate Professor in the department of Population Health Sciences. His research focuses on the epidemiology of metabolic syndrome, including obesity, diabetes, hypertension and dyslipidemia in populations of African origin. Since 1997, Dr. Okosun’s primary interest has been to understand the epidemiology of metabolic syndrome among the African diaspora.
News from the Next Generation Program
Sierra Carter: The Connection Between Racism and Accelerated Aging
Psychology researcher Sierra Carter, a faculty member hired under the Next Generation Program (a strategic faculty hiring initiative, predecessor to the Second Century Initiative), sat down with the College of Arts & Sciences podcast, “Arts and Sciences Matters” to talk about her research into the relationship between early life stress from racial discrimination and serious health problems among African Americans. Click here to listen.
News from the Office of the Provost is an e-newsletter highlighting news and activities in academic affairs at Georgia State University. For questions about the newsletter, email Jeremy Craig at [email protected].
Previous issues are available at the following links:
Oct. 2018 (Vol. 1, No. 1)
Dec. 2018 (Vol. 1, No. 2)
Feb. 2019 (Vol. 1, No. 3)
April 2019 (Vol. 1, No. 4)
June 2019 (Vol. 1, No. 5)
August 2019 (Vol 2., No. 1)
October 2019 (Vol. 2, No. 2)
Winter 2020 (Vol. 2, No. 3)
Spring 2020 (Vol. 2, No. 4)