Monday, January 31, 2011

Hate crime victim: Arson was ‘bad Lifetime movie’

It’s been a week since someone threatened 43-year-old Chris Staples by throwing a rock wrapped with death threats and anti-gay slurs through a window and then returned early Sunday morning and set his home on fire with him asleep inside.

Investigators from several agencies, with the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office coordinating the effort, have been working overtime to find out who is responsible. A $10,000 reward has been offered for information leading to arrests and convictions in the case from the Georgia Arson Control Program in the Georgia State Insurance Commissioners office.

Agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation joined Georgia State Patrol, Carroll County and Carrollton officers in talking with Staples’ neighbors on Alvin Drive as they work to shake something loose in the case.

Carroll County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Shane Taylor said they are getting some information, but said an arrest is not imminent at the time.

Staples said he has been drained and his emotions seem to go from tired, to mad, to puzzled with each passing hour.

“This whole thing is like I’m watching a really bad Lifetime movie – the bad thing is that as I’m watching, I be dog if I’m not smack dab in the middle of it,” Staples said. “It really doesn’t seem real.”

Staples said he has been so busy trying to figure out everyday logistics of where he will live, sleep and what he will do long term has kept him occupied. He said when he slows down the realization starts to settle in.

“I know it happened, you look out there at my place and you see that,” Staples said. “But the severity of it hasn’t hit me. The fact that someone threw a rock through my window, told me they were going to kill me and then tried to do it is what doesn’t seem possible. I hear that whoever did this could get life in prison and I think, no way. But then my friends are like ‘Dude, someone tried to burn you alive.’ I mean, I still can’t grasp the thought of that. Why? I just don’t understand.”

Georgia is one of five states that do not have hate crimes statutes. If an arrest is made, it could be prosecuted as a federal hate crime under the Matthew Shepard Act on behalf of a gay victim.

Taylor said that determination will be made later; right now the top priority is finding the person responsible. He said they have been in contact with federal prosecutors and the FBI has been very generous in lending resources and expertise in this investigation.

“Right now we don’t have anything new, but we still have a number of things we are looking at,” Taylor said. “Someone knows who is responsible and we hope that they will come forward and help us.”

Anyone with information about the case can call the state’s arson hot line at 1-888-282-5804. Information can also be shared with Investigator Tony Reeves at 770-830-5880.

Staples said the support has been incredible and has come from all over the world. He said that when others try to suggest that Carroll County is a bad place because of this, he is quick to defend his hometown.

“I’ve lived here my whole life and this is the first problem I’ve ever had like this,” Staples said. “The people here have been great to me. I can’t say enough about the way the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office has handled this. They are working hard, have been so diligent, understanding and respectful. They came out here with a show of force the other night and that meant a lot to me.

“One of them told me that they were going to catch who did this because people like this give the area a bad name. I believe that they will.”‘bad-Lifetime-movie’?instance=west_ga_news

Friday, January 28, 2011

Service to Others: A Way of Life

A nephew of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. urged the members of the University of West Georgia community to make service a key part of their lives.

“Performing acts of service, if you are doing them correctly…is a workout for your heart and your soul,” said Isaac Newton Farris Jr., senior vice president of the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change.

Yet, that service will most likely not be accompanied by compensation, recognition, praise, glory or even a thank you, he said.

“The satisfaction that you get is just by knowing that you have helped someone,” he said.

Farris reminded audience members that the King Holiday is set apart as a day of service on purpose.

“We did not want this to be a day of hero worship,” he said. “Performing acts of service is the key to the beloved community that my uncle so often talked about.”

During the 2010 King holiday more 1 million acts of service were performed and even more were done this year, he said.

Service, he said, should not only happen on that one day, but should become a way of life.

The projects sparked by the King holiday during the past 25 years include: painting homes, planting gardens in housing projects, community food drives, non-violence workshops, repairs to homeless and domestic violence shelters, blood donor drives, gun buy-backs and gang intervention summits.

“Every year the list of community service projects grows,” he said. “And more and more people begin to embrace serving others as a way of life.”

Farris spoke at the UWG Campus Center Ballroom on Jan. 27 for the Second Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. program, which was coordinated by the Office of Institutional Diversity. Nearly three dozen student organizations participated in the program.

Mentoring young people year-round – all young people not just “at risk” children – is one of the best ways to serve, he said.

Youth were crucial to the Civil Rights movement, particularly in the Birmingham campaign, he said. That was the moment for that generation.

“You don’t have to risk your life,” Farris said. “You don’t have to be beat. You don’t have to have fire hoses turned upon you…. You don’t have to make a sacrifice like that now because they did it for you. But you owe it to them to do what you are called to do now. Community service is one of those things that you are called to do now.


Selestine Achieng, president of the University of West Georgia’s International Student Club, is helping to organize and promote the 26th annual International Night, a celebration of campus-wide diversity and cultural entertainment.

The annual event, on Thursday, Feb. 3 at 7 p.m. in the Food Services Building (Z-6), will represent culture from over 40 countries, and is planned almost a year in advance. Students have practiced dances, skits and cultural presentations and will cook meals that represent the history of their respective countries.

“We have over thirty countries cooking,” said Achieng. “The other countries will participate in the entertainment. I know there will probably be a lot of rice dishes, and India will make spicy food. Samba Loca is also donating some food, so there will be a taste of Brazil there.”

For the celebration, she said that she will prepare a traditional Kenyan dish, Ugali, a cornmeal-based dish sometimes made with vegetables or meat.

Achieng said that the community will be invited to sample the international cuisine, and then participants will be treated to entertainment.

“After eating, there will be dances, poems – a talent show,” she said. “Last year, I did an African dance, and it’s really fun. It opens people up and gives us a chance to get to know people better.”

Achieng arrived at UWG in 2007. She said that she did not have a difficult time adjusting to life in the United States.

“Back home, we live at home until eighth grade, and then we go to boarding school, so you are already prepared to go away from home and your parents,” she said. “We see our parents maybe once or twice a year."

Achieng, a biology major with a minor in English, will be graduating this July. She said that after graduation she ultimately wants to become a pediatrician.

“I love working with kids,” she said. “I think it may be because I’m an only child, so that need to be around kids is important. They are so small and need nurturing.”

The International Student Club will be selling tickets for International Night on Jan. 31 – Feb. 2 in front of the UCC, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tickets are also available for purchase in Row Hall, Room 229, or from an International Club member.

Tickets are $5 for students, $7 for children under 12 and $8 for the community.

Weaving, a Metaphor for the Lives of Three Navajo Women

Noted anthropologist, Dr. Louise Lamphere, visited the University of West Georgia recently. She spoke to a packed house about her work.

Lamphere, a distinguished professor of anthropology, emeritus at the University of New Mexico, said her 2007 work, “Weaving Women’s Lives: Three Generations in a Navajo Family,” is not so much about the loom, but about how the women have lived.

The professor wrote the book with Eva Price, who is 82, her daughter, Carole Cadman, and granddaughter, Valerie Darwin.

Weaving is a metaphor, Lamphere said, for the “ways in which all three of these woman have woven together Navajo traditions and Anglo American practices in their daily lives.”

All three have studied in American schools, learned English and worked wage jobs. But they have also participated in traditional Navajo puberty, marriage and healing ceremonies.

Central to their lives are three Navajo concepts: the importance of place, the emphasis on generosity and reciprocity, and k’é.

This last is “loosely translated as kinship of family but a more standard definition includes notions of cooperation, compassion, friendliness, unselfishness and peacefulness,” she said.

The women’s lives, rather than representing a continuum – starting with Price’s traditional life, Cadman in the middle, and ending with Darwin, a student at the University of New Mexico and who is the most assimilated – the women have managed hybrid lives.

“I prefer to think of them as engaged in cultural preservation, yet weaving together these elements of Navajo traditions and Anglo American traditions,” Lamphere told the audience packed into Kathy Cashen Recital Hall on Jan. 27.

Lamphere met Price and Cadman in 1965, when she was working on her dissertation. The relationship grew over the decades. Lamphere watched and learned as the family weathered marriages and childbirth, illnesses and deaths, jobs gained and lost.

In writing the book, Lamphere said she wanted to present “women’s narratives, their voices and place them, at the same time, in the context of the larger American society.”

For her part, Price wanted to work on the book “because she always felt it was important to teach her children and her grandchildren ways of behaving that would give them a long life…. and blessings and harmony and balance in the universe.”

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Lose for Yourself, Help Others

Here’s a scary thought from the National Cancer Institute: obesity and physical inactivity may account for 25 to 30 percent of several major cancers.

Something else from the NCI: even a weight loss of only five to 10 percent of total weight can provide health benefits.

Ready to get off the couch now?

If you are, there’s still a chance to join the UWG Wonder Walkers' Biggest Loser Challenge.

So far nearly 20 people have signed up for the Biggest Loser Challenge, said Janet Nichols, a Relay Team member, who is handling the confidential weigh-ins.

Nichols hopes more people will sign up by 5 p.m. on Jan. 28.

At the initial weigh-in the participants BMI is calculated and they receive a wealth of information about diet and nutrition, Nichols said.

“We let them set their own goals,” Nichols said. “The ultimate goal is to win the contest.”

Beyond the 12 weeks of the challenge the goal is to “promote health and wellness,” she said.

The non-refundable $25 registration fee goes to the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life.

This is the second year of the Biggest Loser Challenge on campus, but the UWG community has been participating in the Relay for Life for years, Nichols said.

The 2011 Relay For Life of Carroll County begins April 29 at the county’s parks and recreation complex. Look out for Relay for Life events on campus, including four “dress down days” and a “split the pot” raffle.

The Biggest Loser challenge began with a Jan. 24 weigh-in and ends with a final weigh-in April 18. The winner of the challenge is the person who has the highest percentage of weight loss during the 12 weeks of the challenge.

Send a note to Nichols at if you want to participate. For more information go to:

Nichols said several checkpoint challenges are planned during the 12 weeks. She also hopes to bring in diet and fitness speakers for participants. There will be weekly weigh-ins.

“I learned the importance of portion control,” said Blake Adams, the director of user services in ITS, who participated last year and lost 15 pounds. “The combination of exercise with a balanced diet makes the biggest difference.


The West Georgia Theatre Company presents a remarkable night of entertainment with Life Is a Dream: An Evening of Ten Minute Plays. The show will run in the Townsend Center for the Performing Arts Dangle Theatre from Feb. 15-19 at 7:30 p.m. and the Feb. 19 and Feb. 20 at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults, $7 for seniors and FREE with your UWG student I.D.

This show follows the Theatre Company’s bi-annual tradition of producing an assortment of ten-minute plays written by University of West Georgia students and bringing them to life in the black box theatre.

The original Life is a Dream, written by Pedro Calderon de la Barca, has inspired all the eight short plays. This year, the genres of the motivated plays cover quite a wide range from enticing dramas to gut-busting comedies; from the pure at heart to the mind bending to the quite risqué, Life Is a Dream will leave you feeling satisfied and entertained.

Students have not only written these eight plays about dreams and their consequences, but each play has its own personal student costume designer. Students have also designed props and Sound. The ensemble cast includes Will Richardson (Kennesaw), Spencer Rich (Douglasville), Rachel Nastrom (Woodstock), Gabrielle Benson (Chicago), Dahlia Iam (Atlanta), Todd Presley (Newnan), Terrence Smith (Decatur) and Aaron Wilson (Willingboro).

The show contains adult content and situations. For more information, please call (678) 839 4700 or visit

Multi-media Music Event at UWG

Music, visual arts, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, some Samuel Beckett, a little Keats and Shakespeare too.

That’s what the University of West Georgia’s Music Department will present on Feb. 10 at Kathy Cashen Recital Hall at 8:15 p.m.

“The Gothic Dream: The Horror of Silence,” is a multi-media production that dissects music, literature, cinema and fine arts to explore the varying themes in particular pieces of literature.

The ModulArt presentation uses projections of art work together with original music that depicts the ideas behind Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein,” Alasdair Gray’s “Poor Things,” and the works of Samuel Beckett.

Aidaduo – guest performers the singer Giorgia Ragni and pianist Stefano Vagnini – will be accompanied by music instructor Annie Stevens on percussion.

Bobbie Emmons, the music department’s program coordinator and drama coach, will narrate the production with the words of Shelley, Gray, Beckett, John Keats and William Shakespeare.

The production will feature the works of Bruce Bobick, UWG professor and chair emeritus of art.

For more information contact Emmons at 678-839-6262 or

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

UWG's Twisty Kicks Some Tail at Robot Battle

A few days ago, a robotics team sponsored by UWG's chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery competed at the Chattacon Robot Battles event in Chattanooga. The team, made up of computer science majors Brandon Shrewsbury, Aaron Schwan, Cody Stamps, and Ryan Nunnally, spent the better part of the last two semesters designing, building, and programming their robot.
They made an excellent showing, competing in three rounds (out of a possible four) for their weight class. (A burned-out circuit board prevented them from further competition. Damage in these competitions is a given!)

Though they did not win, completing a working robot and competing in the event is a major accomplishment. They worked very hard, built an excellent robot, and, most importantly, they were a model of sportsmanship. Please congratulate them.

The team's robot, Twisty (triangular shape with orange wheels), can be seen in action in the following short videos:

Ministers condemn act of hatred against local gay man

by Amanda Thomas/Times-Georgian
As investigators try to find out who targeted a Carroll County man in an alleged hate crime that appears to be fueled by anti-gay religious rhetoric, local spiritual leaders are speaking out against the act and reaching out to the victim.

Keith Jiles, pastor of Word of Life Gospel Ministries in Carrollton, said he reacted with disbelief when he heard that Christopher Staples’ home on Alvin Drive was burned Sunday morning after a large rock wrapped with a threatening note containing anti-gay slurs was thrown through a window the house Saturday night.

Jiles said the church will help by rebuilding Staples’ home.

“You always hear about things like this happening somewhere else, but not in your own community,” he said. “I am saddened to think that someone in our community could have this much hatred toward another person. However, it is at times like this that the church has the opportunity and responsibility to rise and shine. After all, this is what Christ commands Christians to do.”

Jiles said churches often travel far and wide to fulfill the great commission, but in the process, may neglect their communities. He also referenced pastors who get so caught up in saving the world that they neglect their own families.

“We must realize that God places us in our communities for a reason and that is to reach out and make an impact on the community in which we live,” he said. “This is neither about Chris, nor about the crimes that were committed. This is about the church being a light unto the world and reaching out and loving our neighbors as ourselves. This is about allowing Chris, our community and the person or people responsible for this crime the opportunity to witness firsthand the Love and Grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

Larry Massey, the pastor of Life on the Word in Carrollton is thankful that Staples was not hurt.

“I definitely hate anything like that to happen to anybody,” Massey said.

While a person may not approve a someone’s lifestyle, he feels it is important for to make a distinction between the person and the way they life their lives because everyone is “precious in God’s sight.”

“I’ll definitely have our church praying for him,” Massey said.

University of West Georgia psychology professor Daniel Helminiak believes the anti-gay religious movement plays a major role in allowing violence against gay and lesbian people. Helminiak is an advisor for LAMBDA, the university’s only gay-straight alliance organization and wrote the best-selling book, “What the Bible Really Says about Homosexuality.”

To read more go to:

Monday, January 24, 2011

Pafford, Former President at West Georgia, Passes Away

The University of West Georgia mourns the loss of President-Emeritus Ward B. Pafford, who died on Sunday at the age of 99.

In 1971, Pafford became the fourth president of West Georgia College, succeeding James Boyd, who had become a vice chancellor of the university system. A literary scholar, Dr. Pafford helped to restore a deteriorating relationship between the college and the local community and inaugurated a faculty senate.
Some of the student unrest of the late 1960s spilled over to the 1970s on the West Georgia campus. Student drug arrests had become a problem and admission standards and retention rates were issues that had to be addressed. In addition, West Georgia faced some stiff competition from three other colleges that had recently opened within 50 miles of Carrollton.
Dr. Pafford set up new procedures to standardize hiring practices and promotions. He established a planning council to reorganize the college. The council, led by history professor Newt Gingrich, drafted a plan that replaced the six academic divisions with four schools, three of which would become colleges.
In 1974, Dr. Pafford decided to return to his first love, the classroom. He would retire from the presidency in 1975.

Prior to serving as West Georgia’s president, he was a professor of English at Emory University and a dean at Valdosta State College.

He was succeeded at West Georgia by Maurice Townsend, who would become the institution’s fifth president.

“We are deeply saddened at the passing of this stalwart of higher education in Georgia,” said Beheruz N. Sethna, president of the University of West Georgia. “In 1998, I requested the Board of Regents to allow us to name the social sciences building after him in recognition of his great service, and that approval was soon granted. We kept in touch via email and he was always very prompt with his responses.

“My last email to him was to let him know that the new dean of social sciences would be in the Pafford Building. This is one message that went unanswered, which made me fear for his health. While I did not hear back from him, I think he would have been pleased had he known of this.

“He was a wonderful friend of the University of West Georgia, and very supportive of all we did, and indeed of me personally. I will miss him very much.”

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations in Dr. Pafford’s memory be made to the Sally Pafford Memorial Scholarship Fund at the University of West Georgia, 1601 Maple St., Carrollton, Ga. 30118-0001, or Hospice Atlanta, 1244 Park Vista Drive, Atlanta, Ga. 30319, or St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church, 606 Newnan St., Carrollton, Ga. 30117.

Free Banners and T-Shirts at Wolves Games

Listen up, Wolves fans! The University of West Georgia is giving away freebies during several games this week. There will be a giveaway for fan banners on Thursday, Jan. 27 at 5:30 p.m. during the women’s basketball game against West Alabama. Following, the men’s basketball team will also play West Alabama at 7:30 p.m.

There will be a second giveaway for blue UWG T-shirts for students on Saturday, Jan. 29 at 2 p.m. during the women’s basketball game against Valdosta State, followed by the men’s basketball game at 4 p.m. Giveaways will last as long as supplies do. Some come out, show your support, and collect your free T-shirt and banner this week during the games!

Students Prepare to Battle Cuts to Higher Education

Over the last year Georgia college students have protested proposed budget cuts and other measures they say could make college too expensive.  Hundreds have taken their protest to the state Capitol, like this rally last March.
The legislative session has just begun and Georgia's college students already feel like the designated losers.

Lawmakers propose cutting hundreds of millions of dollars from the higher education budget for this fiscal year and the next. They're revamping HOPE, the popular scholarship program that for years has covered tuition if high-achieving students attend a Georgia public college.

Students refuse to be on the sidelines for these discussions.

Instead, they're meeting with lawmakers, policy experts and others to learn the nuances of the different issues. They're sending e-mails, posting information on Facebook and writing editorials in campus newspapers to educate classmates. They're planning rallies and other events for a month of action in March.

These steps build on the demonstrations held last year at the Capitol and mirror national and international action as students fight higher tuition and a reduction in government funding.


UWG & You set to engage alumni nationwide

UWG & You, a series of regional alumni receptions and reunion events, kicks off soon and offers West Georgia grads a fun and easy way to reconnect with their alma mater. The events are designed to update alumni on the new and exciting things happening at UWG. They will also raise awareness, engagement and support of important university programs that help make a difference in the lives of people all over the world.

To attend any of the events listed below, contact the UWG Alumni House at 678-839-6582 or e-mail Ms. Dale Duffey at
Events are also being planned in Coweta, Cobb, Douglas, Paulding, Bibb and Carroll counties in Georgia. If you would like to host, or serve on a host committee, contact Frank Pritchett or Diane Homesley at the UWG Alumni House: 678-839-6582,,

Feb. 7
Scottsdale-Phoenix, AZ
6:30 p.m. at El Chorro in Paradise Valley, hosted by John Harris ’71 ‘73

Feb. 12
Debate Reunion
7:00 p.m. at 103 West in Atlanta, hosted by Cary Ichter ‘81, Randy Evans ’80 and Paul Weathington ‘81.

Feb. 24
DeKalb County
6:30 p.m. in the Historic Tower at DeKalb-Peachtree Airport, hosted by Jeanine Chambers ’96, Luis Planas ’72 and Abrenda Planas ’71, limited space and requires climbing stairs up tower

March 17
6:30 p.m. at The Capital City Club, Brookhaven, hosted by Allen Nance ’98.

April 9
Boston, MA
7:00 p.m., in Milton, MA, hosted by MaryBeth Scalice ’77, Art McDonald ’69, James Jandl ’77 ’78, Adrian Haugabrook ’88 and Angela Haugabrook ’90 ’93.

April 20
Gwinnett County
6:30 p.m. at The 1818 Club at Sugarloaf, hosted by Chris Shuler ’85, and Charles (Chick) Kazienko ‘92

April 28
Whitfield County-Dalton
6:30 p.m. at the home of host Rodney Ownbey ‘77

Friday, January 21, 2011

A Look at UWG

This web cam gives you a view of UWG.

Student Wins Trip to See Katy Perry

University of West Georgia student Cory Woodard plans on a career in the entertainment business. He’s off to a good start.

His video about the person who is his “firework” won him a free trip to London to see singer Katy Perry in concert.

Perry announced the win on “Extra” on January 6. The contest was based on Perry’s song of the same name and asked entrants to submit their personal inspiration.

In Woodard’s case that’s his mother, Sandy Gilbreath, 41.

Woodard, a mass communications major, recorded his three-minute video on his laptop from his Carrollton apartment near campus.

His mom is inspiration because she’s never let him give up. She’s told him “if you can't stand up, stand out,” Woodard said on the video.

The 20-year-old Lafayette, Ga., native has muscular dystrophy and has been in a wheelchair since he was about three years old.

Perry’s song talks about “the firework within, the light within, and going after anything that you want, regardless of the situation you may be in,” Woodard said in an interview.

“That struck a cord with me. My mom has always been there for me.”

Both are “huge” Katy Perry fans.

When he was five years and wanted to play baseball, Woodard was rejected because he was in a wheelchair. That didn’t deter his mom, Woodard said.

The single mother started a baseball team for children with disabilities: The Champs.

“She really has always been there and without her I don’t know where I would be or what I would do,” he said in the video.

England will be another pinpoint on Woodard’s map, who wants to travel to all seven continents.

He’s traveled throughout the U.S., and been to Canada, Mexico, the Bahamas, Austria and Germany with his mom.

An aficionado of German culture, Woodard has the word “ambition” tattooed on his arm in honor of his mother.

Woodard is taking his mom to London, of course. Also going on the trip are her boyfriend, Wayne Samples, 43, of Lafayette, and Woodard’s live-in caregiver, Kateshia Riley, 35.

The concert is March 18. The trip lasts for six days and five nights.

Woodard is scheduled to graduate in 2012.

After graduation he has his eyes set on Los Angeles.

The plans aren’t firmed up yet, but Woodard wants to work with celebrities, write for a magazine or do some marketing.

“Something,” he said, “in the entertainment field.”

26th Annual International Night at UWG

The University of West Georgia is hosting the 26th annual International Night on Thursday, Feb. 3 at 7 p.m. in the Food Services Building (Z-6). Guests will sample food from around the world and enjoy cultural entertainment from 40 countries in a celebration of campus-wide diversity.

The event is hosted by the International Student Club, and is planned months in advance. Students have practiced dances, skits and cultural presentations and have cooked meals that represent the history of their respective countries.

Admission is $5 for UWG students with ID, $7 for children under 12, and $8 for the community. Tickets are available in advance at the International Services and Programs Office in Row Hall, Room 229, or from a participating international student.

For more information on International Night or the international services available for students, call 678-839-4780 or visit the club website at

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Universe via the West Georgia Observatory

The Arts and Sciences program, featuring Dr. Bob Powell an experimental physicist, will take place on Sunday, January 23, at 2:30 p.m. at the Neva Lomason Memorial Library .

Dr. Powell is director of the University of West Georgia Observatory. In addition to condensed matter physics, he is interested in astronomy, alternative energy, and the teaching of physics. In his lecture, "The Universe via the West Georgia Observatory," Dr. Powell expresses...

Thousands of UWG students and visitors have looked through telescopes at the West Georgia Observatory since it went into operation in October, 1979. From the beginning, the Observatory has been used to support the astronomy program offered by the Department of Physics and to provide astronomy enrichment to interested visitors, clubs, church groups, and school groups. The original 14” reflecting telescope was purchased using a grant from the National Science Foundation. That telescope was replaced in October, 2009 with a 16’ computerized telescope.

The Observatory has been a window to the universe. Many solar system objects have been observed and photographed including the Sun, the Moon, planets, asteroids, comets, and the dwarf planet Pluto. Groups of stars are also popular objects to view; these include binaries (two stars which interact gravitationally), open clusters (hundreds of stars), and globular clusters (tens of thousands of stars). Nebulas, which are clouds of gas and dust, are readily visible. For example, M42, the great nebula in the constellation Orion, is featured in viewing sessions during the winter months. Planetary nebulas and remnants of supernova explosions are shown to visitors when those objects are above the horizon. Galaxies are also seen and imaged. The most distant galaxies that have been observed are tens of millions of light years away.

Astronomy is a popular course at the University of West Georgia. About 600 students take the introductory coursed each semester of the academic year, and over 250 students take the astronomy lab course. The Observatory is used extensively by UWG students taking astronomy courses and labs. The facility is open to these students 20-25 times per semester.

Students also use the Observatory for projects. These include imaging the Sun through different filters, collecting data on visual binary stars, determining the light curve of eclipsing binaries, and searching for new asteroids. Students have reported the results of their research at meetings such as the Georgia Academy of Science and the National Conferences on Undergraduate Research.

Public observations are held each month during the academic year, generally on Monday evenings. The next date is January 24, 2011 at 7:00 p.m. if the sky is clear.

Additional observations are held for special events, such as eclipses or unusual celestial objects. The most popular objects for the community have been Haley’s comet in 1985-1986, comet Hale-Bopp in the spring of 1997, and the close apparition of Mars in August, 2003. Especially at these times, hundreds of people have attended each of the observations.

The presentation will use images taken at the West Georgia Observatory.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


The Office of Institutional Diversity of the University of West Georgia has rescheduled its second annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebration for Thursday, Jan. 27 at 7 p.m. in the Campus Center Ballroom. The theme for the event, which was rescheduled due to inclement weather, is “What Are You Doing For Others,” featuring guest speaker Isaac Newton Farris, Jr.

Farris is currently senior vice-president of the Martin Luther King Center for Non-Violent Social Change. He is the nephew of the late Dr. King, and has contributed to numerous civil rights forums.

The event is free and the community is invited to attend. For more information, call 678-839-5400 or visit

UWG Hosts Blood Drive

The University of West Georgia is hosting a blood drive in the Campus Center Ballroom on Monday, Jan. 24 from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The drive, sponsored by the Student Nurses Association of Georgia, requires all eligible donors to supply a photo ID.

Donors are also encouraged to prepare for their donation experience by eating a healthy meal and drinking two additional glasses of water prior to the visit. All present donors are eligible to enter a drawing for one of two pairs of Delta Air Lines tickets.

For more information, call the Campus Center at 678-839-5500.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Apply Now for a $1500 Journalism Scholarship

Are you studying for a career in journalism at a Georgia college or university? If the answer is yes then you might qualify for one of the Atlanta Press Club's four $1500 journalism scholarships. In addition to the $1500 award, recipients will receive a certificate documenting their achievement as well as the prestige of receiving a scholarship from one of the largest press clubs in the country. Presentation of the award will be made at an Atlanta Press Club event to be held later this year. The deadline to submit your applcaition is Feb. 25. Applications are available on the APC website. For additional information to access the application please click here.

Live Art: Spanish Harlem Orchestra

The University of West Georgia’s Townsend Center presents the fourth annual Live Art performance starring the Spanish Harlem Orchestra on Jan. 22 at 7:30 p.m.

Since their founding in 2000, Spanish Harlem Orchestra has established itself as the standard bearer of contemporary Latin music. Directed by world-renowned pianist, arranger, and producer Oscar Hernández, the thirteen-member all-star ensemble has reintroduced the classic sounds of New York City Salsa to music lovers worldwide.

Tickets are $38 for adults and $10 for students. For more information contact the Townsend Center at 678-839-4722 or to purchase a ticket visit

UWG Receives Grant from Governor's Office of Highway Safety

The University of West Georgia is joining forces with the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety to combat alcohol abuse, including underage drinking and impaired driving.

Through GOHS, UWG has received a $13,600 grant to participate in the Georgia Young Adult Program. Designed for colleges and universities in the state, the Georgia Young Adult Program focuses on peer education in order to promote and bring awareness to highway safety issues including alcohol education, alcohol abuse prevention, impaired driving, underage drinking, safety belts, speeding, risk reductions and other destructive decisions. The long-term goal of the program is to create safer, healthier campus environments. UWG will use this Peer Education grant to help educate students on the detriments of drinking and driving and other components of alcohol misuse. The grant runs from Oct. 1, 2010 through Sept. 30, 2011.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Because of continued icy conditions around the campus, the University of West Georgia will remain closed on Thursday, Jan. 13 and Friday, Jan. 14. UWG will also be closed on Monday, Jan. 17 for the MLK holiday.
UWG will reopen Tuesday, Jan. 18.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


The University of West Georgia will remain closed on Wednesday, Jan. 12 because of continued bad conditions resulting from the storm.

Monday, January 10, 2011


The University of West Georgia will be closed on Tuesday, Jan. 11 because of the winter storm conditions.

Sunday, January 9, 2011


The University of West Georgia will be closed on Monday, Jan. 10 because of the forecast of severe inclement weather.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Gabriel "Fluffy" Iglesias Comes to UWG

Gabriel Iglesias brought his brand of humor to The Coliseum at the University of West Georgia on Jan.7.

He told new jokes and a lot old ones, to the delight of the audience. Some in the audience of said the words along with him as he spoke.

This pleased him, he said, because now he knows his jokes "are classics."

Before taking the stage he accepted a Go West cake and a 5X T-shirt from staffers, talked, signed autographs and posed for pictures.

Iglesias, is known for his story-telling style – riffs on his life, family, friends and people he meets on the road are fodder for his humor.

In a brief interview before the show, he talked about the art of stand-up comedy.

"A lot of people think it's a joke, no pun intended," Iglesias said. "It's not easy. There's a lot of nights where you cry. There's a lot of depressing moments, but it helps build you for down the line....I had a couple of really rough ones....But most of them were pretty good....I got lucky."

Iglesias realized he was funny when he did impressions (Ronald Reagan and Yogi Bear) at a fifth-grade talent show. He told one joke that had them rolling: "Why'd the chicken cross the road? ...To check out the chicks."

But it was wasn’t until 1997 that he took to the stage, as an emcee at a Best Western Hotel. A friend pushed him on stage. There were 20 people in the audience and he talked about a recent heartbreak.

"Some girl really messed me up," he said. "Sometimes you need motivation because that's what it took to get me on stage."

The audience lapped it up.

"That first time, I killed. Everybody was laughing because I'm talking about how messed up this girl was.... From there I got the ball rolling and just kept going and going and going."

In his first year he got on stage more than 200 times.

Since then, he’s been on everything from “Good Morning America” to “Jimmy Kimmel Live.” His trophies include a Kid's Choice Award in 2000 and the Comedy Central & Comcast Cable's Comedy Special of the Year in 2003.

Iglesias was voted into the Top 25 of Comedy Central's Standup Showdown in 2004 and 2005.

A decade after he took to the stage he recorded "Hot & Fluffy," which has sold more than 250,00 copies.

Laid back and down-to-earth, Iglesias said he's only recently begun to realize his success.

"I think recently I started accepting the fact that, hey I think, I'm legit," he said.

"When I saw the tour bus, I was sold....But then I was on the side of the road, getting frisked by the police. So they are keeping it real."

He’s perhaps best known for his levels of fatness: big, healthy, husky, fluffy and "Damn!"

He recently added to that scale "Oh, Hell No!"

Flu Shots for UWG Students, Faculty and Staff

Health Services has treated a growing number of students with Type A influenza this week. The remaining supply of vaccine at Health Services is NOW FREE to students, staff, faculty, and the family members of students and faculty/staff. Children must be at least 9 years of age to get this vaccine at Health Services. Shots can be obtained at Health Services from 8 until 4 pm Monday through Friday.

For further information about influenza please see:

Georgia Trend names UWG President Beheruz N. Sethna among 100 Most influential Georgians

Georgia Trend has again named University of West Georgia President Dr. Beheruz N. Sethna to its annual list of 100 Most Influential Georgians.

A consistent presence on the list, Dr. Sethna joins top business, political and cultural leaders in Georgia.

This is Dr. Sethna’s 17th year as president of UWG and Georgia Trend noted issue the school’s growth since his arrival in its January 2011 issue.

“Under Sethna’s guidance West Georgia has increased enrollment by 50 percent, acquired national accreditation and university status, grown its endowment to about 700 percent of its 1994 level and launched the state’s first advanced academy for exceptionally gifted high school students,” the magazine wrote.

This is the 13th year of Georgia’s “Power List.” Dr. Sethna was also named to it in 2003, 2006, 2009 and 2010.

Bill Bolling, executive director and founder of the Atlanta Community Food Bank, was also named to the list. Bolling received his M.A. in psychology from West Georgia in 1976.

The magazine said Bolling’s work “has resulted in more than 2,500 nonprofit agencies distributing food. He tirelessly advocates for the issues of affordable housing, homelessness and poverty.”

Thursday, January 6, 2011

New Scholarship Symbolizes More Opportunities for the University of West Georgia’s Business Students

CARROLLTON, GA — Dr. James H. Burton and his wife, Pat Thoman-Burton, are establishing the Helen Harper Burton Memorial Scholarship, which will benefit UWG students pursing a business degree.

Burton has served as a mentor and a professor to UWG students. His wife graduated from UWG with a degree in Psychology. They wanted to create something that would honor his late mother, Helen Harper Burton.

“She had a dynamic personality, and was always great with managing her money,” said Burton. “She worked at a bank for many years, but never got the chance to go to college herself. This scholarship will give a student the opportunity to further their education while honoring her life.”

Burton also explained how important giving back to the community is to him and his wife. “I am very blessed, and I’ve learned from previous life lessons that I have to do my part and give back,” said Burton. “I no longer have the mentality that my income is ‘all mine’.”

One of the qualifications for this scholarship is a GPA requirement set at 2.75 or higher. Burton set this requirement for a reason, saying “We have some great students who might have messed up and lost their HOPE scholarships. This way they can have a second chance at receiving financial help to finish their education.”

Changes to Classic Novel are Misguided, UWG Scholars Say

Sanitizing the American classic, “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” is a disservice to the novel and does nothing to further the discussion of racism, say University of West Georgia scholars.

An edition of Mark Twain’s 19th century novel is set for release by NewSouth Books with the ‘‘n’’ word removed and replaced by the word “slave.” “Injun” is also excised.

“I don’t think there is any way we can deal with the history of racism and the continuing racism in this country without dealing with the ugly language that racism spawns,” said Debra MacComb, an associate professor of English at UWG.

“Huck Finn” is one of the most frequently banned books. The literary surgery comes at the urging of Auburn University professor Alan Gribben, who has said that by removing the racially offensive language he hopes more people will read the book.

MacComb, who teaches a course on Mark Twain and also teaches the novel in her American Literature courses, disagrees.

“My students appreciate talking about the issue,” she said.

David W. Newton, chairman of UWG’s Department of English and Philosophy, concurred.

Although the conversation about racism and racist words is never easy to have, it is often educational, Newton said.

In studying “Huck Finn,” students and teachers “confront offensive words directly, and talk about our responses to them,” Newton said.

MacComb noted that Twain wanted to highlight “the failure of Reconstruction to allow these new black citizens to be part of the culture. They were increasingly disenfranchised. Slavery was over in name only. Slavery was not over.”

“Dr. Gribben suggests that it would be taught more often if not for the use of the racially offensive language. But I think we need to confront it,” she said.

Removing the slur “fails to deal with what Twain was interested in revealing. People believe that Twain was racist. Twain was anything but that. It’s his character Huck who grows up in a bath of racism. This language springs from his lips because he lives in that environment,” MacComb said. “Twain encourages us to see Huck’s racism and how he changes over the course of the book.”

MacComb noted that book was first banned in Boston soon after it was published in the U.S. not for racist language, but for its use of regional dialects.

Newton said that other American classics have also been edited.

A young adult edition of James Fenimore Cooper’s “The Last of the Mohicans” leaves out a large portion of the original novel, essentially rendering it a different book.

Doing so for younger readers may be appropriate, Newton said, but not for a college classroom.

“Literature is very often offensive and disturbing,” Newton said. “Sometimes it is purposely so. In other instances, like with ‘Huck Finn,’ it reminds us of historical realities from our own past.”