Ziller takes over as president of SPSU Alumni Association at crucial time for organization, many alumni
July 6, 2015 – At a crucial time for the alumni associations at both Kennesaw State University and Southern Polytechnic State University, Frank Ziller took over as president of the SPSU board of directors on July 1. Ziller, who received a Bachelor of Science in computer science from Southern Polytechnic in 2007, previously served as secretary of the board and has been affiliated with the organization since 2011.
Ziller has held several engineering and leadership positions over a 19-year career working in information technology and systems engineering. After spending much of that time at Ricoh Americas Corporation, he joined Elavon Inc. in August 2012 as a senior director of global IT infrastructure services.
“I currently work for a wholly owned subsidiary of U.S. Bank called Elavon,” Ziller said. “We’re a payment processor, so we process credit card transactions.”
Even though he had already been working for many years in engineering when he became a student at SPSU, Ziller believes the education he received on the Marietta campus has really helped his career.
“Computer science is really a collection of a lot of different disciplines, from a computing standpoint,” Ziller said. “From both an engineering and a systems administrative perspective, I was able to apply what I learned at Southern Poly in building large-scale, complex systems that our business relies on.”
In his leadership position with the SPSU alumni association, Ziller hopes to bring together the boards from both Southern Poly and Kennesaw State, among other things. Consolidation of the two universities took place at the beginning of the year to form the “new KSU.”
With consolidation pretty much complete, some may question why an SPSU alumni organization still exists.
“Southern Poly had a very strong STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) focus, so I think it’s really important that we continue to advocate for and represent current and past students in making sure that that gets integrated effectively into this bigger picture, which is KSU,” Ziller said. “My passion is to help facilitate, as the alumni boards come together, that we’re serving what was the legacy of Southern Polytechnic and its alumni base.”
As the newly elected president of SPSU’s alumni association, Ziller has several goals and things he wants to accomplish over the next year or so.
“I think it’s important that the Southern Poly alumni base understands what it means to be part of KSU going forward,” Ziller said. “The name of the university has clearly changed, but the things that we do have, like many of the degree programs in engineering, computer science and software computing, and architecture still exist. I think it’s really important that we connect to the alumni base to make sure they understand that and what it means, like understanding that the equity in their degrees will grow and develop more over time.
“We want our alumni to participate in the new university. We need and want them to support the university long term. So, in the next year, I want to build a foundation that effectively accommodates those things.”
When the consolidation of the University System of Georgia’s two Cobb County institutions was first announced on Nov. 1, 2013, Ziller stated there was a lot of emotion from SPSU alumni, as one might guess. But since that time, Ziller seems to like and be energized by what he has witnessed.
“I think it’s worth noting, very interesting and a testament to the group of people who have comprised the board that there was concern that the alumni board may weaken or lose some momentum, but what I’ve observed is that the Southern Poly board has actually gotten stronger with new people joining who are very passionate,” Ziller said. “I think it’s exciting because I believe they see the bigger picture of the colleges still existing, but just being integrated into a more comprehensive university. I think it’s been very neat to see people rally behind this and the passion and commitment has grown, if you were to measure it since the consolidation was announced.”
So, some may wonder if there will ever be just one alumni board representing the consolidated university and when that formation may happen.
“I think the goal is to integrate the two boards; I don’t really think you want a two-headed monster,” Ziller said. “At the end of the day, I think what we really need to do is represent the alumni base. Some of that is sensing how they’re evolving and digesting the consolidation. I think it’s really important that we can tell that story so they can understand it.
“Absolutely, long term, I believe the two boards will come together, and I think they should. But, we’ve got to make sure that the legacy of Southern Poly graduates is represented effectively. I think we want to make sure that not only alumni are served well, but also that the things we do with existing students, like competition teams and clubs, remain and are supported by the colleges, the foundation, or whatever the case may be.”
Although he is just starting his presidency, Ziller is well prepared to tackle some new issues facing the board. With his vision and the extraordinary people he will be working with, Ziller believes he can make a difference and bring members of both boards together to do wonderful things for KSU in the future.