Kennesaw State president’s speech highlights university’s 50th anniversary celebration, future growth and consolidation

Daniel S. Papp, president of Kennesaw State University  (photo by Anthony Stalcup)

Declares the ‘State of the University’ as ‘excellent’

Click here for the full transcript of the address

KENNESAW, Ga.  (May 7, 2014) — During its 50-year history, Kennesaw State University has experienced many achievements and transformations, but according to President Daniel S. Papp, the past year has been one of the “most memorable” to date.

During his annual State of the University address today at the Dr. Bobbie Bailey and Family Performance Center, Papp recounted several institutional milestones, including the past year’s 50th anniversary celebration, the institution’s change in status to a comprehensive university, and the announced consolidation with Southern Polytechnic State University.

“What this university has done in its first 50 years is incredible, but where it could go and what it could do in the next 50 years — along with our soon-to-be new colleagues from Southern Polytechnic — almost defies imagination,” said Papp.  The president delivered his speech to a full audience of faculty, staff and students who packed the Bailey Center to hear this year’s address regarding the status of the university.

Kennesaw State celebrated its 50th anniversary in October, with a weeklong series of activities, lectures, discussions and celebrations. The University was chartered as Kennesaw Junior College in 1963, and when it opened its doors 48 years ago, there were 1,014 students and 37 faculty, Papp said.   

Papp cited the Board of Regents naming of Kennesaw State as a “comprehensive university” last August as an important step in the university’s future. KSU is one of only four University System of Georgia (USG) institutions to receive this new designation.

“We are committed to becoming a world-class academic institution by promoting excellence and innovation in education through teaching, supervising, and mentoring students; through research, creative activity, and scholarship; and through professional service,” Papp said.

Papp noted that Kennesaw State’s academic successes are evident in its many global ties, citing the first-ever visit by a sitting head-of-state, President John Dramani Mahama of Ghana. In September, Mahama visited KSU to help commemorate the culmination of the university’s “Year of Ghana” programming.

Papp used a significant portion of his address to highlight the progress Kennesaw State and Southern Polytechnic State have made since USG Chancellor Hank Huckaby announced the plan to consolidate the two universities.

“The Board of Regents, together with our accrediting agency — the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools’ Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) — has identified over 800 tasks that must be undertaken to make consolidation work,” said Papp. A 28-person Consolidation Implementation Committee, a 47-person Expanded Consolidation Implementation Committee, and 81 Operational Work Groups were created to help address the myriad of issues related to the consolidation, all of which are crucial in moving the consolidation forward.

“When consolidated, the new KSU will have about 31,000 students and will graduate over 5,000 students per year. It will have a yearly economic impact of approximately $1.2 billion, and generate nearly $30 million a year of externally funded research. Its alumni base will be about 91,000, most of whom live in Northwest Georgia,” said Papp.

The new university will retain the Kennesaw State University name, and Papp will serve as the institution’s president.  Last month, the Board of Regents approved mission and vision statements for the new university, and the majority of the senior administrative team has been named, said Papp.

“Both SPSU and KSU continue to attract and graduate excellent students,” Papp stated.  “All indications are that student enrollment at both institutions will increase again next fall.”

Papp also outlined several examples of work that remains to be done, including issues related to the number of degree programs, salary equity, faculty and staff position descriptions, promotion, tenure and evaluation.  The 81 operational working groups will submit their recommendations over the next two weeks, and he cited four national searches that will launch in the coming months to fill remaining senior-level positions.

“We are progressing well, and we are on schedule,” said Papp. The consolidation is slated for final approval in January 2015.

During his address, Papp also noted that six significant facilities projects are currently under way on the Kennesaw State campus. The Bernard A. Zuckerman Art Museum opened its doors in early March, and several other projects will be completed within the next year. The Sturgis Library renovation will provide additional space and add a new front entrance to the building when it is completed next year; and the $22 million expansion of the Bagwell College of Education will open later this year, providing much-needed classroom and office space. The Dr. Betty L. Siegel Student Activity & Recreation Center — a new $39 million student recreational facility — will open in February 2015. The $18 million Skip Spann Connector project will create a bridge over I-75 that will connect Frey Road with Busbee Parkway, and will link KSU with the Towne Park Business Center when it opens in May 2015.

Papp also noted that the KSU Foundation completed the purchase of BrandsMart last week, with $9.9 million in bond funding provided by the Georgia legislature, with the support of the Board of Regents and the Governor. The former retail facility will house the KSU Clinic, academic space and a new marching band, and will add 722 much-needed additional parking spaces to the campus.

Papp’s address presented a bright future for Kennesaw State.  “New programs and new activities have been and will be initiated that will help the university improve its quality, strengthen its reputation, and heighten its visibility,” he stated. “These are all grounds on which to conclude that the state of Kennesaw State is excellent.”

# # #