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Southern Polytechnic State University
Former names
Southern Technical Institute, Southern College of Technology
Type Public
Established 1948
President Dr. Lisa Rossbacher
Academic staff
Students 5,500
Location Marietta, Georgia, United States
33°56′32″N 84°31′15″W / 33.94222°N 84.52083°W / 33.94222; -84.52083
Campus Suburban (230+ acres)
Colors White and Green          
Nickname "Spoosoo", Southern Tech, Southern Poly, SPSU, SOPO
Mascot Hornet / The Running Hornets

Southern Polytechnic State University (commonly called SPSU or Southern Poly) is a public, co-educational state university located in Marietta, Georgia, USA just northwest of Atlanta. It is part of the University System of Georgia and known as "Georgia's Technology University".

Southern Polytechnic State University was established in 1948 as The Technical Institute in Chamblee, Georgia, United States. The first classes were held with 116 students. It was renamed in 1949 and moved to its present campus in Marietta, Georgia, around 1958. It went through another name change in 1987 and was named Southern College of Technology. Later in the summer of 1996, the university adopted its current name. Today, the university encompasses more than 230 acres (0.93 km2) and includes approximately 35 buildings. Southern Polytechnic State University is well known for its academic programs in architecture, engineering, technology, and computer science.



After World War II, the need for technicians spiked due to a major economic shift within Georgia from being a largely agricultural state to one that is more industry heavy. The new industries required technicians to bridge the growing gap between engineers and craftsmen, effectively the gap between research/ development and building/implementing. At the time, most technical institutes within the United States were located in the northeastern states, and thus the need for a technical institute within the south was great.

In response to the growing demand, the president of Georgia Tech, Colonel Blake R. Van Leer, sought to establish a technical institute program within Georgia. In 1945 he was approached by the Associated Industries of Georgia (AIG) who shared their common desire to have such a program established and offered Van Leer their support. It took years for Van Leer to convince the Board of Regents to give Georgia Tech authorization to establish a technical institute, but finally on October 8, 1947 the authorization was granted. The location of the fledgling institute was a Naval Air Station in Chamblee, GA, the first director was to be Professor Lawrence V. Johnson, and it was going to open under the name of The Technical Institute.[1] In March 1948 The Technical Institute held its first registration for a spring quarter, and started with 116 students, all but 10 being World War II veterans, and a staff of 12.[2]

Early history[edit]

In 1949, it became the Southern Technical Institute (STI or Southern Tech), and was recognized as a college-level school by the U.S. Department of Education. Less than a decade later (around 1958), the college migrated to its present campus in Marietta, which was previously part of Dobbins Air Force Base. NAS Atlanta also moved to the opposite (south) end of Dobbins around the same time.

In 1961, Hoyt McClure was named acting director and led the movement to build eight new buildings on 120 acres (48 hectares) of land. Since then SPSU has continued to expand—the campus now encompasses more than 230 acres (92ha) and contains 35 buildings with continuing projects to expand the campus for both academia and student housing.

STI became accredited as a four-year college in 1970, and was one of the first colleges in the nation to offer the bachelor of engineering technology degree. It also earned independence in the University System, separating ties with Georgia Tech. In the summer of 1980, SPSU officially became the 14th senior college and the 33rd independent unit of the University System of Georgia.

The college's first president, Dr. Stephen R. Cheshier of Purdue University, was named in 1980 and served with distinction until his retirement as president in June 1997. He saw SPSU through two name changes—Southern College of Technology in 1987 and Southern Polytechnic State University in the summer of 1996, when the school also became a university. Dr. Daniel S. Papp served as interim president from July 1997 to August 1998, when the university welcomed Dr. Lisa Rossbacher, formerly of Dickinson College, as its president.[3]

thumb|right|SPSU logo, 1996 to 2008

Currently, SPSU also hosts a satellite campus for Georgia Highlands College.


  • The Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
  • The Technology Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET)
  • The National Architectural Accreditation Board (NAAB)
  • The American Council for Construction Education (ACCE)
  • The Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)

Recent developments[edit]

In the recent years the SPSU campus has seen major revisions through multiple building additions.

  • Engineering Technology Center and Building (The Q Building)
On January 24, 2008, Governor Sunny Purdue recommended a little over 33 million dollars towards the construction of a new building to house five programs: Electrical Engineering, Computer Engineering, Telecommunications Engineering Technology, Mechanical Engineering, and Mechatronics Engineering.[4] The 123,000-square-foot (11,400 m2) facility was completed in December of 2010 and opened on the first day of classes for the spring semester of 2011.[5]
  • DineOnCampus
The construction of the new dining hall replaced the old dining hall when it was completed in July 2010. Located at the center of the university, the new dining hall has two levels. The upper level dining area offers commercial food service and the lower level is designed to host special event for the college and its administration. Both the upper and lower level has the capacity to accommodate the entire campus with variety of food program and choices.[6]
  • New Student Housing
To meet the rising demand for on-campus housing, Southern Polytechnic State University ordered the construction of new apartment complexes, suite-styled dormitories, plus special interest housing for fraternities, sororities, and athletics. Starting in 2003, the Courtyard Apartments were built to hold 414 beds within 104 units as well as renovation of the Howell and Norton Residence Halls.[7] Construction was completed in 2004. More recently, the construction of new residence halls and special interest housing began in 2009. The residence halls consist of two buildings holding 600 new beds and the special interest housing are divided among ten buildings.[8]
  • Design II Building
The new Design II building was completed December 2010. This new building brings an additional 14,500 square feet (1,350 m2). Acting as an extension of Design I, Design II houses six large studio spaces and a 286 seat auditorium.[9]


Undergraduate programs[edit]

SPSU offers many different majors through its different schools. Southern Polytechnic's academic divisions are made up by its School of Architecture, Civil Engineering Technology and Construction; School of Computing and Software Engineering; School of Engineering Technology and Management; School of Arts and Sciences; and Division of Engineering.[10] SPSU serves both traditional and non-traditional students at the undergraduate level.[11] The most popular majors for undergraduate students that are at SPSU are in Civil Engineering, Civil Engineering Technology, Computer Science, Information Technology, Architecture, Construction Management, Mechanical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering Technology, Mechatronics Engineering, Electrical Engineering, and Electrical Engineering Technology.[12] The construction engineering program is one of nine in the nation. The mechatronics engineering degree is the first in Georgia. Other unique programs at Southern Polytechnic State University include a five-year professional accredited Architecture degree, and undergraduate degrees in Surveying and Mapping, Systems Engineering, and Technical Communication.

SPSU follows the University System of Georgia's Common Core program. The curriculum framework for the Common Core System is made up of several areas. These areas outline the required core classes for each student to graduate. Area A: Essential Skills is made up of basic English and Math courses. Area B: Institutional Options is made up of courses pertaining to global issues in science and technology, oral communication, and critical thinking. Area C: Humanities and Art Fine Arts includes courses such as Literature, Art Appreciation, and Languages. Area D: Science and Mathematics is made up of courses such as Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Astronomy, and Calculus. Area E: Social Sciences includes courses in History, Political Science, Psychology, Ethnic Studies, and Religion.[13]

Graduate programs[edit]

SPSU offers master's degrees in Accounting, Architecture, Business Administration, Computer Science, Construction Management, Engineering Technology—Electrical, Information and Instructional Design, Information Design and Communication, Information Technology, Quality Assurance, Software Engineering, and Systems Engineering.[14] There is no age requirement to go to Southern Polytechnic State University. Anyone can join the graduate program as long as they have the right prerequisites.[15] SPSU has always prided itself on the fact that it can accommodate the unique needs of graduate students. SPSU has been offering many of its master's degrees online since 1997.[16]

Schools and degrees[edit]

The University offers a broad range of undergraduate degree programs as well as several masters degree programs throughout its four schools and division of engineering. It offers 24 online certificate, graduate and undergraduate degree programs, as well as the "eCore" program which is made up of the first two years of college courses completely online and is composed primarily of core classes.[17]

Progression of Programs[edit]

Under the name of Southern College of Technology the school offered many Associate of Science and several Bachelor of Science degree programs. Starting in 1987, the Masters of Science degree programs began to be added, with the newest, the M.S. in Architecture, added in 2011. In 1994 the former Architectural Engineering Technology degree was converted into an undergraduate five-year professional architecture degree. Also, in 1996 Southern Polytechnic State University offered a Bachelors of Applied Science Degree. After the adoption of the name Southern Polytechnic University in 1996, the school began to offer more Bachelor degree programs, and now offers only one associates degree program.[18] Most undergraduate degrees are Bachelor of Science degrees (including such fields as Political Science, Psychology, and Technical Communication), with several Bachelor of Arts degrees also offered. Degree programs at SPSU always have a technological focus. In 2009, The Division of Engineering was added by Southern Poly, and offers six undergraduate engineering degrees, including evening degrees in Civil, Electrical, and Mechanical Engineering.[19]

  • The School of Architecture, Civil Engineering Technology, and Construction
B.Arch. in Architecture
B.S. in Civil Engineering Technology
B.S. in Construction Management
M.S. in Construction Management
  • The School of Computing and Software Engineering
B.S. in Computer Game Design and Development
B.S. in Computer Science
M.S. in Computer Science
B.S. in Information Technology
M.S. in Information Technology
B.S. in Software Engineering
M.S. in Software Engineering
  • The School of Engineering Technology and Management
B.S. in Accounting
M.S. in Accounting
B.S. in Business Administration
M.S. in Business Administration
B.S. in Electrical Engineering Technology
M.S. in Engineering Technology--Electrical
B.S. in Industrial Engineering Technology
B.S. in Mechanical Engineering Technology
M.S. in Quality Assurance
  • The School of Arts and Sciences
B.S. in Biology
B.S. in Chemistry
B.S. in English and Professional Communication
M.S. in Information and Instructional Design
M.S. in Information Design and Communication
B.S. in Mathematics
B.S. in Physics
B.S. in Political Science
B.S. in Psychology
B.S. in Technical Communication
  • Division of Engineering
B.S. in Civil Engineering (evening program)
B.S. in Construction Engineering
B.S. in Electrical Engineering
B.S. in Mechanical Engineering (evening program)
B.S. in Mechatronics Engineering
B.S. in Systems Engineering
M.S. in Systems Engineering
  • Extended University

List of presidents[edit]

Name Term of office Notes
Dr. Lisa Rossbacher August 1998 – Present Served as Interim Vice Chancellor of the University System of Georgia in 2007
Dr. Daniel S. Papp July 1997-August 1998 Served as Interim President. Current president of Kennesaw State University
Dr. Stephen R. Cheshier Summer 1980-July 1997 First President of SPSU
Previous presidents were from the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech)


Southern Polytechnic State University, focuses on using knowledge and technology to better Georgia's economic development. Both faculty and students take part in research that advances the school's mission and its students' preparation for their future careers. Many individuals and organizations, such as the Immerse Membrane and SNAPTECH Research Projects, have been directly impacted by the school's applied research.[20] SPSU Faculty members have completed research fellowships with the United States Air force and other governmental labs. They have also done programming for Blue Cross Blue shield making business applications, and they have developed and managed systems for IBM.[21]

Student life[edit]

Student government[edit]

Student organizations such as fraternities, clubs, and the general student body are governed by the Student Government Association of Southern Polytechnic State University. SGA is composed of elected and appointed undergraduate and graduate students. The SGA is designed closely to the U.S. government, where the president has veto power, the vice president chairs the legislative body, and the chief judge has judgment authority over questions of constitutionality.

The SGA is composed of three main branches:

  • Executive (President, Vice President, Secretary/Treasurer, Chief Judge, and four committee chairs)
  • Legislative (Ten Councilmen including the four committee chairs, chaired by the VP and recorded by the Secretary/Treasurer)
  • Judicial (Chief Judge and six Associate Judges)

The Legislative Council divided into four committees. These committees include Budget and Finance, Public Relations, Internal Affairs, and Elections.[22]

Student media[edit]

WGHR ( Green Hornet Radio )[edit]

The campus radio station, WGHR, is a non-commercial station that began in 1979 and used to be located at 100.7 on the FM dial.[23] The station's license would have expired on April 16, 2004, but had been canceled on January 16, 2004.[24] WGHR remains off radio broadcast, but continues to function via webcast. Their web home page is a work in progress, but navigation includes the DJ schedule, events, live radio, and contact information.[25] The student radio station is located in an office in SPSU's student center (at the center of campus life). The SPSU Student Handbook 2007-2008 informs that WGHR "offers interested students an opportunity to gain broadcast and technical experience".[26]

The Sting[edit]

The Sting, formerly the Engineering Technician, was established when the school was founded. It offers opportunities for writers, photographers, and advertising salespeople to acquire experience and to be a resource and tool for the student body.

The Sting is a member of the Georgia College Press Association.

Spring 2012 Staff: Vicki Nix, Editor in Chief; Assistant Editors: Joshua Vaughn - Layout Editor; Hatim Amir Shaw-Hamer - Assistant Layout Editor; Robert Barnard - Sports Editor; Zachary Duncan - Assistant Sports Editor; Randy Brown, Jr. - Copy Editor; Laura J. Dingler - Copy Editor; Toby Pope - Copy Editor; Travis Wood - Copy Editor.

Student organizations[edit]

Academic competition teams[edit]

SPSU fields a number of academic competition teams, including a robotics team.

For more than a decade, an SPSU student team has competed in the International Aerial Robotics Competition sponsored by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI). Over the years the SPSU teams have won various awards for their fully autonomous aerial robots. Also, the Electrical, Computer and Telecommunications Technology department sponsors a student-run Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) team that competes in an annual AUVSI underwater vehicle competition in San Diego, California. The Civil Engineering Technology department sponsors the Steel Bridge team and the Concrete Canoe team, both of which compete in annual competitions on a regional and national level.

In 1992 the Formula SAE competition team was started by John M. Leverett, director of engineering at Panoz Auto Development. The team has competed in numerous annual competitions since then, placing 20th in the 2007 competition. The team is currently in the design process for a new car for the 2012 competition.

Fraternities and sororities[edit]

Southern Polytechnic State University is home to thirteen fraternities and sororities: five of the North-American Interfraternity Conference (IFC), two of the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC), and five of the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC). Fraternities and sororities are groups used to engage a student's social life.[27]

North-American Interfraternity Conference (IFC)
National Panhellenic Conference (NPHC)
Panhellenic Association (NPC)

Social and other clubs[edit]

SPSU supports many student-run social organizations along the genres of international cultures, faith, athletics, special interests, etc.

  • Pure Bliss (SPSU Ultimate Team)
  • Runnin' Hornets That Run
  • SPSU Arch Angel Paintball Team
  • SPSU Cheerleaders
  • SPSU Dance Team
  • SPSU Fishing Club
Performing Arts
  • SPSU Drama Club
  • SPSU Band
  • 2010 NECA
  • Aerial Robotics Team
  • APV Club
  • Concrete Canoe Team
  • Steel Bridge Team
  • AUV Team
  • Alpha Chi NHS
  • Student Honors Council
  • Tau Alpha Pi NHS

Bathtub Race[edit]

In the 1960s one of the fraternities at Southern Polytechnic converted a castiron bath tub into a cooler for parties. When the tub became difficult to move they attached wheels to the tub. Some time after other fraternities acquired their own castiron tubs, attached wheels, and the fraternities began to hold races around the perimeter of the school. In light of a growing liability risk the school put an end to the annual bath tub races in the early 1990s. In 2010 the SPSU Alumni group resurrected the Bathtub Race, under the stipulation that the tubs must be motorless.[43]

Campus dining[edit]

SPSU has several options for campus dining: Stingers Restaurant, Mondo Sub, and The Community Center. Stingers Restaurant is located in X Building, near the Hornet Village residence buildings. The Hornets Nest is located on the basement level of Joe Mack Wilson Student Center. Mondo Sub, located inside the J-building, provides subs, outtake cuisine and soups. The Community Center has two restaurants, Build-A-Burger And Habaneros, selling fast food, open to midnight for the convenience of students.


SPSU is a member of National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics and Southern States Athletic Conference, competing in four varsity-level sports: men's soccer, baseball, and men's and women's basketball.

In 2010, men's soccer went 12-5-3 in the regular season with 6-0 record in the conference. They reached the SSAC tournament and won one game, but they eventually lost in the finals. They also qualified for the NAIA tournament. They won their first match but lost in the round of 16.[44]

SPSU's baseball team went 53–10 in the 2009 regular season, won the SSAC conference championship, and finished fifth in the NAIA World Series. Three players from the team were drafted by major league baseball teams (the Baltimore Orioles, Philadelphia Phillies and Florida Marlins).

In 2009, men’s basketball went 23-5 in the regular season and 12-2 record in the conference. They reached the SSAC tournament and won three straight games which made them SSAC Champions. They also qualified for the NAIA tournament. They won three straight games before losing in the final four to Azusa Pacific University.[45] During this season, many Hornets received personal awards. Jazz Rogers- won 2009-2010 SSAC Player of the Year, Brent Jennings, Xavier Dawson, and Jazz Rogers was named SSAC All-Conference Team, Darrien Beacham was the 2010 Musco Lighting Champion of Character Team, and Jordan Lemons was named SSAC All-Academic Team.[46]

In 2009, women's basketball went 26-4 in the regular season and 12-4 in the conference. They won the SSAC championship and went on to the NAIA tournament. They won the first game but lost the next one to Union university.[47] During this season, many hornets received personal awards. NAIA Scholar-Athlete and All-Academic Team was given to Crystal Davis, All-Freshmen Team was given to Brittany White, All-Conference Team was awarded to Dione Parks and Marisa Stoler, and the 6th Man Award was given to Dione Parks. Newcomer of the year was awarded to Marisa Stoler, and Musco Lighting Champion of Character Team was given to Aurielle Morgan. Also the Coach of the Year was awarded to Nathan Teymer.

SPSU also offers intramural and club sports. Intramural sports offers many team and individual competitive programs throughout the year. Intramural sports consist of basketball, badminton, Racquetball, dodge ball, soccer, softball, volleyball, and flag football. Club sports are organized by individuals and groups on Southern Polytechnic's campus. SPSU has many club sports such as disc golf, and ultimate Frisbee.[48]

Intercollegiate practices and recreational sports take place in the Recreation and Wellness Center, the Outdoor Recreation Complex, the Athletic Gymnasium, and Walter J. Kelly, Jr. Field.

The Recreation and Wellness Center has a weight room, running machines, basketball/volleyball gym, a pool and racquetball/badminton court.[49]

The Outdoor Recreation Complex has three softball fields, a soccer field, and a large field for multiple sports. Intramural sports use theses fields all year. The complex also has tennis courts and a running trail.[50]

"The Runnin' Hornets basketball teams practice and play in the Athletic Gymnasium. Athletic Department offices are also located here. The Southern Polytechnic baseball team plays at Walter J. Kelly, Jr. Field".[51]


Faculty at SPSU are at a ratio of about 1 faculty member per 19 students. About 42.5% of students attend classes with less than 20 students.[52] The small class size promotes a greater attention to the students and lets the faculty become more involved in each students education. The faculty also centers their attention to provide a laboratory and/or professionally-oriented education that caters to problem solving, ethical awareness, and a desire for lifelong learning. Every faculty member has to have experience in relevant work or research of a topic to be qualified to teach at the school.[53] Because the faculty is more involved, most Freshman, 75.5 percent, attend the school for a second year.[54]

Since 2006, there has been a general 70% to 30% ratio of men to women professors. In 2007-2008 male professors made up to 7,000 dollars more than female professors on average.[55] The gap between the difference in pay quickly decreased and by the 2009-2010 academic year the salary only differed by 300 dollars, $77,699 for males and $77,410 for females.[56] Of the 48 full-time professors in 2007, 52% of them had tenure. The amount of professors dropped from 48 to 44 in 2008, and with the drop of full-time professors, there were only 44% of full time faculty that had tenure.[57] It was also recorded in 2010, that the amount of full-time professors dropped again to 39, but the tenure rate still remained the same.[58]

There are many awards given out at Southern Polytechnic State University among the faculty including the Outstanding Faculty Award and the Employee Service Award. Throughout the course of a faculty members time working at SPSU they have the chance to receive an Outstanding Faculty Award (OFA).[59] The university chooses a select group of faculty whose achievements have been noteworthy enough to receive the OFA. The OFA committee changes each year and is made up of the previous year's recipients of the Outstanding Faculty Award. The Employee Service Award acknowledges the service and achievement of its permanent employees at periodic intervals with appropriate ceremony and awards.[60] A committee composed of representatives from the Staff Council and the Outstanding Faculty Awards Committee determine who receive the awards and the ceremony date. Both awards are given out at the same ceremony, and it takes place at the end of spring term.

Notable alumni[edit]

One notable alumnus of SPSU is Mike Garrett, former president and CEO of Georgia Power, one of the leading producers of electricity in the United States.[61]

Police department[edit]

SPSU operates an on-campus police department. Its officers have the ability to arrest on university property (which is under the control of the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia) and on any public or private property within 500 yards (460 m) of property controlled by the Board of Regents.[62] As of October 2010, the SPSU Police Department holds the Cobb Chamber of Commerce's Public Safety Officer of the Year award, which is handed out annually at the chamber's Public Safety Recognition Awards ceremony.[63]


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External links[edit]

33°56′24″N 84°31′12″W / 33.940°N 84.520°W / 33.940; -84.520Coordinates: 33°56′24″N 84°31′12″W / 33.940°N 84.520°W / 33.940; -84.520

Category:Educational institutions established in 1948 Category:University System of Georgia Category:American Association of State Colleges and Universities Category:Education in Cobb County, Georgia Category:Universities and colleges in Georgia (U.S. state) Category:Universities and colleges accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Category:Buildings and structures in Cobb County, Georgia Category:Marietta, Georgia