Clendenin family expands support for Kennesaw State graduate students


PHOTO: Reuben Hilliard, left, and Kyle Jones, are the 2015 Clendenin Scholars Program…

Georgia (Jun 5, 2015)PHOTO: Reuben Hilliard, left, and Kyle Jones, are the 2015 Clendenin Scholars Program recipients

New society of scholars announced alongside 2015 annual scholarship recipients

KENNESAW, Ga. (June 11, 2015)— Kennesaw State University has announced the formation of the Clendenin Scholars Society, aimed at developing the institution’s academic stature by promoting academic discourse and educational programming.

Planning is underway for the new society, which will be comprised of student scholars, faculty and community members. It will develop strategies to supplement Kennesaw State’s graduate and undergraduate curricula with lectures, workshops, conferences, seminars, films, electronic media, and other modes of knowledge dissemination.

Formation of the new organization coincides with the release last month of the 2015 recipients of the Clendenin Scholars Program, which awards up to $20,000 annually to high-achieving Kennesaw State graduate students. The scholars society and the scholarship program are named in honor of the Clendenin family, longtime supporters of the University.

“This is an exciting new endeavor that will engage some of KSU’s brightest graduate students in developing strategies to enhance the academic vitality of Kennesaw State,” said Thomas E. Clendenin, a long time KSU Foundation trustee. “Our family is very passionate and committed to improving the academic quality of KSU.”

Kennesaw State University President Daniel S. Papp announced the Clendenin Society during his “State of the University” address in May, and thanked the Clendenin family for their continued support and commitment to funding the Clendenin Scholars Program.

“[These initiatives] will support KSU's commitment to becoming a nationally recognized public institution, known for its academic excellence and outstanding graduate programs,” Papp said.

In addition to announcing the Clendenin Society, the University recently identified the 2015 Clendenin Scholars.

Kyle Jones will receive $20,000 a year to complete his doctorate in English education at Kennesaw State’s Bagwell College of Education. Reuben Hilliard, a student in Kennesaw State’s accelerated bachelor’s-master’s program, will receive $15,000 annually to pursue the Master of Science in Applied Statistics degree at the University. Hilliard graduated last month with a Bachelor of Science in Biology with a minor in Applied Statistics and Data Analysis. In addition to their financial scholarship awards, both Clendenin scholars will receive full tuition waivers to their respective graduate programs.

Jones and Hilliard were among 50 applicants vying for the 2015 Clendenin Scholars Program.

“It is always a challenging task to identify two recipients from a highly competitive pool of accomplished applicants.” said Ivan Pulinkala, chair of the Clendenin Scholars selection committee and coordinator for the new Clendenin Scholars Society. “This year’s recipients are exemplary scholars who have established a record of significant success within their disciplines. We are grateful to the Clendenin family for their generosity and vision to recognize outstanding student achievement at KSU."

Jones, a Public Service and Leadership Academy coach and English teacher in Gwinnett County Public Schools, holds a bachelor’s and specialist degree in English education from Kennesaw State and a master’s in learning, design, and technology from the University of Georgia. He honed skills in curriculum design, teacher leadership, and community networking while developing and implementing a multi-subject, project-based learning (PBL) program in 2009. His academic interests include student-centered instructional strategies, teacher-led professional development programs, educational journal clubs, school climate and culture, and teacher leadership. He also participates in multiple community mentorship programs and is a self-taught musician, published writer and amateur graphic designer.

Hilliard, who grew up in Cape Town, South Africa, started his academic career at Louisiana State University and moved to Atlanta from Baton Rouge in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, disrupting his studies. He spent 10 years working in information technology, but decided to return to college to complete his degree. As a non-traditional student, he took advantage of opportunities to display his scholarship, presenting at Kennesaw State’s Statistics and Analytical Sciences (SAS) Day, “R” Day and Biology Symposium in 2014. He also represented the University as a student finalist in a SAS analytics conference in Las Vegas, Nev. He has since become a certified SAS base programmer. In addition, he was the recipient of the Carmax Academic Scholarship for spring 2015. His research intersects the disciplines of biology and statistics, focusing on environmental sciences and, more specifically, water and soil ecological conservation efforts in Georgia. In his free time, Hilliard visits with the special needs children in a Cobb County classroom.

This year’s recipients are among 39 graduate students who have been awarded Clendenin scholarships. To date, 30 recipients have earned advanced degrees ininformation systems, nursing  science, biological sciences, conflict management, educational leadership and business administration. Almost half of the recipients earned their graduate degrees at Kennesaw State.

The Clendenin Scholars Program originally supported students pursuing masters or doctoral degrees at Kennesaw State or any accredited university. It currently awards scholarships exclusively to students enrolled at Kennesaw State, where nearly 2,000 graduate students are enrolled in one of 29 master’s degree or eight doctoral degree programs.

For more information about the Clendenin Scholars Program, visit


Kennesaw State University is the third-largest university in Georgia, offering more than 100 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees. A member of the University System of Georgia, Kennesaw State is a comprehensive university with more than 32,000 students from 130 countries. In January 2015, Kennesaw State and Southern Polytechnic State University consolidated to create one of the 50 largest public universities in the country. 


A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit