An Uncommon Bond


KSU students find strong supporter at The Commons

KENNESAW, Ga. (Oct 2, 2018) — Beyond what seems an infinite buffet of soulful delicacies, Kennesaw State University’s renowned dining facility, The Commons, is home to a soul-filling, yet uncommon bond between the thousands of frequenting students and a sharp-dressed dining-room attendant known affectionately as Mr. James. At first glance, his penchant for going beyond could be measured in enthusiastically fetching an unsolicited refill or greeting you tableside with a smile and neatly folded paper napkin, but with Mr. James, beyond knows no bounds.

Having grown up poor, hungry and without, Mr. James learned a simple yet powerful mantra – “be kind to others and it will come back.” He not only engages with students but learns their names and knows their stories. He willfully shares his own testimony as well – the product of being raised in 14 different foster homes. He gives advice, helps newbies find their way – figuratively and literally and has been known to light up a table with an impromptu rap. He doesn’t just share who he is but what he has – quietly helping student who are hiding in the shadows of poverty with the resources to buy a shirt or a new pair of shoes. He does because he knows.

This kindness does have a boomerang effect – students love him, hug him and shower him with praise. They cheer him on social media, applaud his good works and even invited him to a homecoming event last year where he was celebrated with gifts and ovations. The love is real, tangible and can be described simply as a friendship.

Mr. James says he is building something at KSU that is beyond a legacy but more like a blueprint to extend long after he is gone. “It’s the blueprint of Mr. James,” he says with a smile.

–      Rob Witzel


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