Kennesaw State president's speech highlights strategic plan, university achievements

2013 State of the University dc 14.jpg

Daniel S. Papp delivers annual address to university community

Click here to read the full transcript

KENNESAW, Ga. (April 11, 2013) —  Kennesaw State University is tackling more than just football these days, as it launches a new strategic plan, faces reaccreditation, and receives national and international accolades for its students, faculty and program achievements.

“We are at a key juncture for this university,” said Daniel S. Papp, who delivered his annual State of the University address to faculty, staff and students at the Bobbie Bailey and Family Performance Center April 10 and 11.

Kennesaw State recently submitted its five-year interim report for reaccreditation to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). In an era of more accountability, this five-year report is just as important as the SACS’ 10-year reaccreditation, Papp said. “I am highly confident that SACS will favorably approve the report.”

Kennesaw State’s academic successes are evident in its many global ties, Papp noted, citing many national honors Kennesaw State programs and centers have earned. 

Papp also pointed out that Kennesaw State’s colleges have earned numerous accolades, with the Graduate College breaking the $10-million mark in external research grants this year.

Student accomplishments are also giving the university reasons to be proud, said Papp. Jiexi Liao, a junior majoring in biochemistry, was awarded the prestigious Barry M. Goldwater scholarship, a highly competitive award given annually to highly qualified students pursuing careers as scientists, mathematicians or engineers; Megan Emory, editor-in-chief of the Sentinel, Kennesaw State’s student newspaper, was named Student Media Leader of the Year by the National College Media Association; and the KSU Mock Trial team – despite the university not having a law school – is the only Georgia team to travel to the national Mock Trial Association championships in Washington, DC.

“If we combined our 25,000 for-credit students with the 20,000 continuing education students, this university helped educate approximately 45,000 students last year,” said Papp.

Papp announced that the administration has a new strategic plan for 2012-17, which took two years of planning and was strengthened by thousands of survey responses. The comprehensive plan, with its five goals and 60 action steps, has guided efforts to improve the university since last fall. “Actions are already under way to achieve each goal,” he added.

Graduation rates have increased by 6 percent to 41 percent at Kennesaw State over the past three years, Papp said, as KSU engages in the Complete College Georgia initiative, which aims to raise the percentage of Georgians with college degrees. Kennesaw State is working to improve graduation rates by expanding interventions and creating an Honors College.

“Our faculty, students, staff and alumni are already extensively engaged in activities that connect the work of the university to its wider external communities,” Papp said. The university’s ENGAGE Kennesaw State team has been working to gain greater understanding by the community about what the university contributes to society.  

New degree programs and student activities, as well as new facilities and infrastructure continue to expand at Kennesaw State. The university offers two new master’s degree programs in chemical sciences and integrative biology, and is planning a bachelor’s degree in culinary sustainability and hospitality that awaits Board of Regents approval.  

Besides degree programs, Papp pointed to the growth in the university facilities, including $6 million in improvements to the Sturgis Library. The Science and Math laboratory opened last fall, with six teaching labs and 17 research labs within the 73,000-square foot facility. The Bernard A. Zuckerman Art Museum will open its doors in fall 2013, thanks to Zuckerman’s $2 million donation for the project. The 9,200-square foot facility will house the university’s art collection and serve as a cultural resource, Papp said.

Two new facilities will break ground later this year at Kennesaw State. The Bagwell College of Education will expand its classroom and office space, and the Dr. Betty L. Siegel Student Activity &  Recreation Center will provide a new student recreational facility. Kennesaw State’s athletics department is also preparing for the arrival of football in 2015, having secured Regents approval, and hired a new head football coach.

With the growth of the university have come challenges, Papp said. The egress from campus during peak times is still difficult but will be eased with the Skip Spann Connector. This two-year, $20 million project of the Cobb County Board of Commissioners and the Georgia Department of Transportation, will create another campus entrance near the East parking deck, connecting Frey Road with Busbee Parkway, to ease traffic tie-ups on Chastain Road. 

“We have come a long way in 50 years,” Papp said. “Today, Kennesaw State University has some 30,000 students, faculty and staff and as many as 50,000 of our alumni live within a 40-mile drive of campus.” 

“It’s hard to believe that 10 years ago, we were not a residential campus,” Papp said. “Having students living on campus has transformed this university.”

The university will embark on its 50th anniversary celebration during Founders Week, Oct. 7-12, and continue with a multi-year celebration. Kennesaw State University was chartered as Kennesaw Junior College in 1963. 

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