Introduction

For the past l8 months Southern Polytechnic State University (SPSU) and Kennesaw State University (KSU) have been busy attempting to weave together their programs, curriculum, and student organizations for the new KSU. This past March communities on both campuses wove together events that helped everyone to explore gender-related topics as well as to focus specifically on women for Women’s History Month (WHM). There could not have been a better year for the two campuses to weave together their WHM events given that the theme for WHM this year was “Weaving the Stories of Women’s Lives.”

During the consolidation both campuses have had to focus on how to knit together two very different cultures: one that focuses on applied learning, polytechnic specialties, and a largely male population; and the other that focuses on a more theoretical approach, liberal art studies, and a population that is more evenly divided between women and men.

For the past two years the Marietta Campus has celebrated Women’s History Month as part of a larger women’s initiative set on considering the low number of women on the campus (around 21% of the students are currently women) and the creation of a campus culture that is more inviting to them. The trouble with attempting to change a culture can be that those analyzing it are so used to seeing the culture as it is that they cannot see it in a different way.

One of the models from the fashion show poses for the audience.
One of the models from the fashion show poses for the audience.

One of the benefits of knitting together two such different campuses into one university is that one must become more aware of one’s campus culture. Thus the differences in culture have been more fully revealed and it has become clear that these differences will both become more accentuated and diminished by the consolidation as it moves forward.

Because the Marietta Campus will lose programs in business administration, the social sciences, chemistry, and biology to the Kennesaw Campus, and the Kennesaw Campus will lose computer science and the mathematics program to the Marietta Campus, each will be more of what they already have been—A polytechnic campus and a liberal arts campus. Differences on this level will be accentuated. Because women on the Marietta Campus have often studied in the fields lost to the Kennesaw Campus, the campus will face additional challenges if it continues to try to bring more women to campus.

That said, there are differences that will begin to diminish. Both campuses will share policy and procedures and student activities. This means faculty, staff, and students have already begun the process of joining together non-curricular items that will create communities with shared governance and extra-curricular opportunities.

Extra-curricular opportunities for WHM concerning gender were supported by members of both campuses as faculty, staff, and students worked together to create events, to share news of the events, and to participate in them. What follows is a bit of information concerning WHM events on both campuses.

The Events In Short

Faculty and staff from Laura Beth Daws’s Women’s History Month Committee on the Marietta Campus and faculty and staff from the Gender and Women’s Study Program as well as from other organizations on the Kennesaw Campus put together a full listing of events.

Mireille Emanuels, the Administrative Associate for Facilities Administration, took on the task

Part of the WHM quilt.
Part of the WHM quilt.

of creating a patchwork quilt commemorating important women in history and in the lives of students, faculty, and staff. Each patch was made by different members of the community and then brought together by Mireille. The library on the Marietta campus also promoted women through exhibits featuring women in science, technology, engineering, architecture/arts, and mathematics (STEAM).

The Marietta Campus then kicked off the month with a panel of SPSU female alums followed by Sarah Weldon’s presentation on using Linked-in for professional purposes, a viewing of the movie Temple

Keynote Speaker Sandra D. Welfare addresses the audience.
Keynote Speaker Sandra D. Welfare addresses the audience.

Grandin, the Golden Ratio Fashion and Art Show, and the grand finale, keynote speaker, Ms. Sandra D. Welfare.

The events on the Kennesaw Campus focused on Michael Kimmel’s work on gender studies and college campuses, a forum on societal pressures concerning beauty and femininity, the Siegel Institute’s Phenomenal Women’s Conference, the screening of Girl Rising, and the 2015 Women Veterans’ Conference.

For my blog post I am going to focus on three of the events: the fashion and art show, the Michael Kimmel events, and Ms. Sandra D. Welfare’s presentation. In weaving the stories of the two campuses, I want to focus on the two keynote speakers, but I also wanted to focus on the type of “art” available on the Marietta Campus, especially since the fashion and art show was the first offering of this kind on the campus.

The Golden Ratio: Smart Fashion and Art for Smart People

The Golden Ratio: Smart Fashion and Art for Smart People was the first event of its kind for the Marietta campus. Its intent was both to highlight smart women in the sciences and to highlight the type of art that is taught and learned on the Marietta Campus.

The Fashion Show

Leadership for the fashion show was provided by Keely Clay, who teaches Apparel and Textile Technology courses for the Industrial Engineering Technology Department. Keely holds a Masters of Fine Arts (MFA) in Fashion Design from the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). The Fashion Design Program at SCAD prepared her well for hosting a fashion show on the Marietta Campus since it provided numerous opportunities to work fashion shows. Not only did she help with shows, but she also designed gowns for the shows. Prada actually attended a fashion show in which her gowns were shown. Her most memorable show was one in which

Modelling in the fashion show
Modelling in the fashion show

Oscar de la Renta received an award from SCAD.

Keely was supported by Belk’s Department Store, the Toni and Guy Beauty School, the students in the Fashion and Design Student Organization (FADS), the models themselves, and Tres Barnes, who provided lighting and music for the show. Keely told me that the show was a success because of the efforts of all the above. She was impressed with the student contributions to the show, and is looking forward to the next show, especially now that the students from FADS have successfully produced their first show. She felt especially in debt to FADS President, Carrie Bittinger, its Vice President, Madison Shaw, and its Secretary, Alishia Anderson.

Students from FADS pose before the Belk's sign.
Students from FADS pose before the Belk’s sign.

I got the chance to interview FADS’ Alishia Anderson, Marshayla Killette, and Casey Williamson. They told me they enjoyed interacting with the models during rehearsals and going to the Belk’s store to pull out fashions for the show without having to worry about the prices. They told me that the hardest thing and the most rewarding thing was helping to get everything on schedule and seeing everything pull together as clothing, lighting, and music interacted to create the show. They loved Keely’s leadership and the level of experience and contacts she brought to producing the show.

Student mood boards from Keely’s classes were also on exhibit for the art show.

 

The Art Show

Donna Colebeck and Leslie Hankey from the New Media Arts Program provided the leadership for the art show.

Leslie is a graduate of SPSU’s Master of Science in Information Design and Communication Program. She serves as a Communication Design Lecturer in the Digital Writing and Media Arts Department and is in her fifth year of teaching. Originally from the mountains of North Carolina, she is an avid hiker, an artisan bread baker, a tennis player and a newly minted photographer. Leslie took charge of creating the graphic identity for the fashion and art show in the form of an 18″ x 24″ poster and set her students in the Applied Graphics class to work on this project.

The class considered all of the following in their design: a palette of Pantone colors in peach, lavender, and gray that were provided by Keely, the golden ratio from the title of the show, the idea of a cityscape emphasizing buildings such as those on the Marietta campus, and the purpose of STEAM events on campus. Weaving these ideas together was difficult, but students ended up creating a number of successful solutions.

The faculty and staff involved in producing the show selected the winning design created by

Brandon Bisch stands next to the Golden Ratio Poster that Michael Biglands and he created.
Brandon Bisch stands next to the Golden Ratio Poster that Michael Biglands and he created.

Brandon Bisch and Michael Biglands. I had the chance to interview Brandon Bisch at the art show. He told me that Michael and he decided that they would take features of the Golden Ratio and turn it vertical instead of horizontal. They then picked a white background on which to feature their bar design. Finally they added a swirling icon that was representative of the snail-like feature of the Golden Ratio.

On display for the art show were vector graphic illustrations from Leslie’s Applied Graphics class. For this work students each chose a professional graphic artist whose work lends itself to vector graphic illustration. The students then attempted to replicate the artist’s work within their own illustrations. Students first had to learn the graphic artist’s shape-building techniques, and then they were asked to create two original illustrations of plants or animals using similar techniques.

One of Brandon’s vector graphic illustrations was on display. It was of two cockroaches. Cockroaches seem like a really unappealing subject for artwork, but Brandon’s cockroaches were actually quite appealing. They made me think that if they were fashioned into glass objects

Vector Design Illustrations at the Art Show
Vector Design Illustrations at the Art Show

with a similar effect to that of Tiffany glass, that they would be quite pretty lit by the light of a lamp. I asked Brandon how he had come up with such an unusual subject matter. He told me that he had noticed that everyone in class was either coming up with a bird or a tiger so he decided to go out on a limb and to choose a gross bug. His goal was then to find an artist who featured polygons in his work to create polygonal art. He selected graphic artist Tianyin Wang and the cockroaches were one of two illustrations that were the result of his efforts.

Donna Colebeck is an MFA graduate from the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York. She is a Georgia Governor’s Teaching Fellow and has instructed at the Marietta Campus of KSU since 2003. Donna provides quite a bit of student and university support on the Marietta Campus. She serves as the faculty advisor for the Chapter of the National Society of Leadership and Success, she conducts Boy Scout Merit badge clinics on the campus, she volunteers for both Future City and Science Olympiad Competitions, and she coordinates art shows and exhibits.

The student artwork on displayed for the Golden Ratio Art Exhibit was produced in her three Introduction to Drawing classes, her Painting and Mixed Media class, and her 2D3D Design class. These courses are required for students in the New Media Arts Degree program, and students from Apparel and Textile Technology and Mechanical Engineering also take these courses. Ninety students from her classes had their work on display.

Shell drawing based on the shell photograph with the Golden Ratio Overlay
Shell drawing based on the shell photograph with the Golden Ratio Overlay

According to Donna, the theme of the Golden Ratio was the catalyst for assignments in all of these art foundation courses. In order to help students understand the concept, Donna began with lectures and visual examples of artworks through the centuries that use or incorporate the Golden Ratio, the Golden Mean, the Golden Triangle, and/or Rectangle. Students were to integrate technology with traditional art methods. Students in the drawing and painting classes selected subjects by using digital photography and phone apps to identify compositions based on the Golden Ratio. They then created their artworks using techniques appropriate to their respected mediums that they learned over the semester. Photographs with the Golden Ratio overlay accompanied the finished pieces in the art exhibit.

Bracelet from 2D3D Art class.
Bracelet from 2D3D Art class.

Donna said that the 2D3D Design class collaborated with the Mechanical Engineering Technology Department Center for Additive Manufacturing to design and create the 3D Printed Bracelets and Fashion Accessory prototypes that integrated 3D Printed components. The project related to the theme of the Fashion Show presented by the ATT programs students held in conjunction with the Art Exhibition. The art exhibition was available for viewing in the Student Center for the last two weeks of March, which is also designated as National Art Education Month.

Michael Kimmel, Keynote Speaker on the Kennesaw Campus

Michael Kimmel, a leading sociologist who explores identity issues concerning men and masculinity, was the keynote speaker on the Kennesaw Campus. He was sponsored by the Gender and Women’s Studies Program as well as a broad coalition of Kennesaw State departments and student organizations that included the College of Humanities and Social

Michael Kimmel (Image from Kimmel Homepage at creativepromotionsagency.
Michael Kimmel (Image from Kimmel Homepage at creativepromotionsagency.

Sciences and its departments of Interdisciplinary Studies, Communication, Psychology, Sociology, Geography, and Anthropology; the Coles College of Business and its Department of Management and Entrepreneurship; Office of Diversity and Inclusion; Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning; Women’s Leadership Center; the Zuckerman Museum of Art; Anti-Assimilationist Non-Normative Students of KSU; hu-MAN Up; the Kennesaw Pride Alliance; and YESbody!

Kimmel teaches at Stony Brook University in the Department of Sociology. He is the founding editor of the academic journal, Men and Masculinities, and has written several books concerned with issues of gender identity for boys and men, such as Guyland and Angry White Men.

Kimmel’s presentations on the Kennesaw Campus included a focused discussion on his book Angry White Men, a lecture on “Mars, Venus, or Planet Earth? Women & Men on Campus in a New Millennium” and a round table discussion on “Men, Masculinity, Feminism, and the College Campus.” Kimmel’s book concerns why some white men across the country have a sense of “aggrieved entitlement.” To research his book he traveled across the country and interviewed scores of men who are concerned with “men’s rights” and who believe their country is being taken away from them. Kimmel’s blog post “America’s Angry White Men” at Huffington Post captures ideas at the heart of his book and features a gallery of white men, real and fictional, who embody a sense of “aggrieved entitlement.”

One of Kimmel’s concerns for college campuses is sexual misconduct. According to Kimmel, male and female students come to college, often leaving helicopter parents and their tight leash behind. The college campuses they enter are “guylands” ruled by guys with traditional notions of manhood conceived from media references. Constructs surrounding relationships with women may include sexual misconduct. Kimmel believes that he can ask fraternity brothers (and, yes, fraternity brothers are more likely to partake in sexual misconduct than male students who do not join a fraternity), to honor the ideals set up in their chapters and to back away from sexual misconduct not supported by these ideals. Finally, Kimmel believes that sexual equality is a good thing for men and that they will lead happier and healthier lives if they embrace it.

Sandra D. Welfare, Keynote Speaker on the Marietta Campus

Sandra D. Welfare’s presentation on women, work, and the technology fields concluded the events on the Marietta Campus. Welfare, the current Executive Director of Women in Technology (WIT) was at one time the Executive Director of Cool Girls Inc., an award-winning, early intervention, after-school program dedicated to the empowerment of girls from Atlanta’s toughest neighborhoods. She began as a volunteer in the Cool Girls After-School Program and Cool Sister Program in 1995 and two years later was invited to join its Board of Directors.

Ms. Welfare talks with women after her speech.
Ms. Welfare talks with women after her speech.

Ms. Welfare covered a number of topics in her talk that were important to women and men in all fields of study, but especially important to them in the fields of technology and business. Before Welfare discussed the state of the technology field and the 30,000 jobs that should begin to open up, she emphasized the responsibility we all have to consider ourselves as part of a collective effort that emphasizes the greater good for the country and its people. Welfare pointed out that we all make up society and we need to promote what is good for it.

One thing she addressed concerning the needs of women in college and the workforce is their need to be mentored by both men and women who are already established at universities and within career fields. Welfare mentioned that some great male bosses have mentored her. She also mentioned that women don’t always help and support other women. Welfare would like us all to embrace who we are and to work from that sense of authentic self to embrace and empower others.

Welfare took numerous questions from the audience. Some audience members wanted to know more about her international background (she traveled to the University of London as an

Audience members at Welfare's talk.
Audience members at Welfare’s talk.

exchange student while in college, and she has worked in London, Singapore, Australia, and New Zealand). Welfare discussed both the need to taking opportunities when they arise such as working in another country, and how to handle differences in culture. Students wanted to know if she faced sexism while working abroad, and she said that, yes, there were times when it occurred. She talked about finding ways to handle it in methods that ranged from 1) learning to listen to others and to raise commonalities in background (she believes it’s hard for people to continue sexist behavior in these circumstances) to 2) speaking up in specific instances to ensure people took her seriously to 3) understanding that there might be times when sexism needs to be brought to the attention of company management.

One thing Welfare believes is that we all (no matter which gender) need to find that balance between family and work. She admits this is hard to do and that looking back she knows there were times she could have managed it better. Finally Welfare addressed a question concerning what it means to balance the female/male ratio in a company. She reminded the audience that the goal is to find the best talent for a company, but to keep in mind that diversity matters. Often people from different backgrounds bring different viewpoints to the table and these differences in viewpoint can enable a company to better succeed at creating a product that is well received by people in the marketplace.

Thanking Those Involved

Those of us who worked on the March events are in debt to the many people who stepped up to make March a great month for exploring women’s history as well as issues related to gender in general. Here is a list that attempts to capture the many involved.

Financial support was provided by the Polytechnic Foundation of KSU, the Architecture Department, the Industrial Engineering Technology Department, the School of Computing and Software Engineering, and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

We thank the following people and organizations that hosted or participated in events are as follows:

  • Our speakers Michael Kimmel and Sandra D. Welfare
  • Rajnish Singh and SPSU alums Sara Belauret, Heather Bishop, Krista Ferretti, Jessica Herring, Jodie Sweath, and Alexandra Tremblay.
  • Mierelle Emmanuel
  • Sarah Weldon
  • Keely Clay, Donna Colebeck, Leslie Hankey, their students, and the members of the FADS Organization
  • The Women’s History Month Committee (especially Laura Beth Daws for her leadership)
  • Coordinator Stacy Keltner and faculty, staff, and students in the Gender and Women’s Study Program
  • The Center for Student Leadership, the International Students Association and OWL Radio for hosting the forum “I Woke Up Like This: The Societal Pressures on Beauty and Femininity
  • The Siegel Institute for Leadership, Ethics & Character
  • The Ph.D. in International Conflict Management Department, which hosted the screening of Girl Rising.
  • Kennesaw State, the sponsor of the 2015 Women’s Veterans Conference
  • Elizabeth Boyd and her Gender and Workplace students who attended Sandra D. Welfare’s talk
  • The Industrial Engineering Technology Department
  • Mechanical Engineering Technology and the Center for Additive Manufacturing
  • Belks
  • Tony and Guy Beauty School
  • Several people asked me to thank myself 😉 I did work to help those creating the fashion and art show to coordinate their efforts and I supported those involved in WHM on the Marietta Campus.

Conclusion

The March events helped all who participated to explore the ways in which we can encourage young people no matter their gender identification to grow and to succeed. I like the way Sandra Welfare talked about both sexism and quotas. We need to listen, to find common ground, and to realize that there is strength in diversity.

Jack Renfro, in Eudora Welty’s novel, Losing Battles, listens closely to the stories told about Julia Moretimer, the teacher who battled to educate his mother and her siblings and who has died shortly before the telling of her stories. When asked by his wife Gloria if he pities Julia, he answers, “I reckon even that I love her…. I heard her story.” I like to think that the quilt Mierelle composed of patches that were created in order to memorialize women loved and admired by students, faculty, and staff on the KSU campuses is beautiful because of the diverse stories that are woven together, and that these stories are even more powerful for being brought together. I hope that as people on the Kennesaw Campus and people on the Marietta Campus come to love the stories of individuals on both campuses, and that, as they hear the stories of the other, they will find that the cultures of the two campuses are being interwoven in ways that show respect and caring for those on both campuses.

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