George M. Sparks became director of the Georgia Tech Evening School of Commerce in 1928 at a time when Georgia and the nation moved into a severe depression.
Sparks, a war correspondent covering the Pancho Villa uprising and a city editor at the Macon Telegraph, taught journalism at Mercer and Georgia Tech, where he was put in charge of publicity and journalism. Sparks also had been teaching night classes at the Evening School of Commerce since 1924 and eventually requested to take over the institution.
Born in Quitman, Ga., Sparks attracted numerous students through his statewide contacts. Consequently, the Evening School had to relocate four times before 1932 to accommodate the expansion. Sparks also promoted the arts and sciences, although his major contributions grew out of his superb financial management; his acquisition, renovation, and occupation of three different buildings between 1931 and 1946; and his vision of the school's future as a major state university.
Sparks expanded the curriculum, increased enrollment and transformed the Evening School into a four-year college with graduate programs.
Sparks began the library with a donation of his own books. Mrs. Wayne S. Kell, widow of the first director of the school, contributed her husband’s large commerce library, and is said to have been one of the first volunteer librarians for the collection.
Sparks served as director and president at the ever-growing Georgia State College for 29 years, retiring in 1957. Sparks Hall, a major building on the campus housing administrative offices and classrooms today, recognizes his contribution to the institution.
Sparks graduated from Lanier High School in Macon, and went on to earn his Masters degree and Doctor of Letters from Mercer University.
Sparks died on October 29, 1958.