“SPSU was founded in 1948, originally as ‘The Technical Institute,’ at the naval air station that is now Peachtree-DeKalb Airport.
“But Southern Polytechnic is here in Marietta because of this club. When it needed to relocate, the civic leaders of Marietta — led by this Club’s Business and Public Affairs Committee — made a strong argument to the governor and the legislature for bringing the college to Marietta. Those men prevailed. ...
“I’m going to tell you about three of the top things I love to hear people say about SPSU and the questions I least like to be asked.
“One of my favorite things to hear is when someone says, ‘I just hired one of your graduates.’
“Fortunately, I hear this all of the time. SPSU has a longstanding reputation of providing your future employees who are ready to work — thanks to their hands-on, applied education. SPSU graduates can find creative, practical and sustainable solutions to the problems facing our world today.
“SPSU students are widely recognized as great employees. They have a strong education, they have a terrific work ethic, and they are prepared with both the knowledge and the skills that make them successful.
“Our graduates get jobs in the area. They work for your companies. In some cases, they are you.
“And by living and working in this area, they give back to the community. In the last fiscal year, Southern Polytechnic’s annual economic impact on Georgia was calculated at nearly 200-million-dollars. We now have more than 20,000 alumni, many who remain in the metro Atlanta area, contributing to the economy and their community. These alumni are architects, engineers, scientists, writers, CEO’s, teachers, musicians, racecar drivers, fire chiefs and district attorneys.
“Another thing I like to hear is, ‘I used to go to the Bathtub races with my family.’
“This tradition began in 1965, reflecting the practical problem-solving skills of SPSU students. How can cold beer be transported across campus? The solution was a bathtub full of ice, on wheels. Within two years, the students added motors. Throw in a little engineering competitiveness, and the bathtub races were born. By the 1980s the races were being featured on CNN, and thousands came to the campus for the event.
“The lawyers in the room will, of course, recognize the potential liability issues here, and that’s what ultimately caused the races to be discontinued in 1991.
“The bathtub races were reinvented a couple of years ago, with human powered tubs, and we are still trying to figure out how to capture the spirit of the event in a way that is safe and sustainable.
“And I also love to hear, ‘My company gave to PolyDay.’ Last week, we celebrated the first annual PolyDay. This concluded a month-long campaign in which we contacted our internal community of faculty and staff and our external constituents in local industry and business in support of Southern Polytechnic.
“We celebrated gifts and pledges of over $150,000. We more than met our goal, thanks to the generosity of many of you in this room — and especially to Lockheed Martin, with which we have a great partnership and which is historically the top employer of our graduates.”
Thanks, Dr. Rossbacher.
Now, as for what makes her cringe? You’ll have to wait until next week for that!
Bill Kinney is associate editor of The Marietta Daily Journal.