The Brainchild of GSU


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Wayne S. Kell, the first dean of the Tech Evening School of Commerce, which later became Georgia State University, is credited as the institution's founding father.

But that's only half the story. Most people are not aware that William M. Fambrough, a Georgia Tech alumnus, helped conceive the idea for the School of Commerce in 1911 and was one of the original champions for the school.

"Fambrough had the passion and the business sense and realized Georgia Tech should teach business courses," said David Smith Jr., assistant director of GSU's Office of African-American Student Services and Programs, who wrote "Georgia State University: An Institutional History, 1913-2002."

"Fambrough lit the creative spark that gave Georgia State its start," Smith added.

Although Georgia Tech had begun offering some business courses, Fambrough believed Atlanta needed its own commercially-focused school. Early in 1911, Fambrough, then president of Tech's Alumni Association, sent letters to alumni inquiring about their need for business training.

The letters he received in return showed a vital need for business training and Fambrough, with his business associate J.B. McCrary, promoted the idea to Tech's leadership. According to "Engineering the New South: Georgia Tech, 1885 — 1985," by Robert C. McMath Jr., Fambrough and McCrary asserted that, "Ignorant of Georgia's industrial and business possibilities, too many Tech graduates were going north to work for large corporations rather than staying home to develop the state and enrich themselves."

The two men were successful with their pitch, and the School of Commerce was inaugurated during the 1913-14 academic year under the leadership of Kell. Tuition was $50 and the first class numbered 44 students, many of whom were employed during the day and seeking supplemental training at night.

The school began in Georgia Tech's Lyman Hall Chemistry Building. But after students petitioned, the Evening School of Commerce was moved to the Walton Building downtown in 1914.

Although Kell ran the school, Fambrough stayed involved. He was listed as the general counsel, one of the guarantors and an advisory board member.

In 1933, in the midst of the Great Depression and coinciding with the school's 20th anniversary, the Board of Regents announced that the Evening School of Commerce would be separated from Georgia Tech as a cost-saving measure. The newly independent institution was renamed the University System of Georgia Center Evening School, which eventually became Georgia State University.

Without Fambrough's vision and determination, Georgia State might not have taken shape as quickly as it did.

"Fambrough was important," said Merl E. Reed, GSU history professor emeritus and author of "The Struggle for State-Supported High Education in a Southern Regional Center: Atlanta and the ‘Mother Institution.'"

"Students weren't prepared to go out into the world and deal with business men. [Fambrough] knew they needed to have an education in commerce," Reed said.

Researcher garners prestigious NIH grant

Regents’ Professor of Biology Timothy J. Bartness recently received a multimillion dollar award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to further research into the biological mechanisms of obesity.

The prestigious Method to Extend Research in Time (MERIT) award from the National Institute of Diabetes and Kidney Diseases will provide longterm for his lab’s investigation into the communication loop between fat cells and the brain, which Bartness has researched for the past 26 years with NIH support.

MERIT is among the most selective research grants given by the NIH, with less than 5 percent of NIH-funded investigators selected as recipients. The MERIT award extends NIH support under Bartness’ current five-year grant to 10 years.



Award-Winning Campaign

Despite the economic downturn, Georgia State set another benchmark in charitable contributions for 2009, winning a Governorís Award and a Commissionerís Award for a successful fundraising campaign.

The fall 2008 campaign for State Charitable Contributions Program raised a total of $163,274 for local, statewide and international service, charity and advocacy organizations.